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Pilgrimages To Sacred Sites As Tourism

2133 words - 9 pages

In discussing the viewpoint that pilgrimage to sacred site is a form of tourism there are certain terms that require definition: pilgrimage, sacred and tourism. The Oxford English Dictionary, (OED, 2012) defines pilgrimage as ‘a journey undertaken to a place of particular significance or interest’. It is usually as an act of religious devotion, homage and respect and those on a pilgrimage are referred to as Pilgrims. Waterhouse (2009, p199) defines religion as ‘a system of practices, institutions and beliefs that provide meaning to life and death’. Waterhouse’s definition not only encompasses the five main religions but also the various sub divisions and alternative religions. Tourism is defined by OED (2012) as ‘the theory and practice of touring, travelling for pleasure’ and thus a person on tour is defined as a tourist. The OED (2012) defines sacred as ‘dedicated, set apart, exclusively appropriated to some person or some special purpose’.
This essay will discuss the view that pilgrimage to sacred sites is a form of tourism by outlining the debates surrounding sacred sites and between different factions. The essay will then apply these arguments and ideas to Stonehenge and Avebury. It will also look at the associations of Pilgrimage and Tourism within the ideologies surrounding leisure and their application to Glastonbury.
The definition of sacred as a place separate from the secular world has different connotations and meaning for different individuals and groups. The main academic argument is between the ideas that the site is inherently sacred or is the product of human effort. Eliade (1961) argues that the ‘manifestation of something of a wholly different order, a reality that does not belong to our world in objects that are an integral part of our natural ‘profane’ world’ (Harvey and Bowman, 2008, p39) naturally draws people to a particular space. Eliade’s ideas of sacredness has been highly criticised as ‘presenting a religious belief rather than an academic argument’ (Harvey and Bowman, 2008, p41). Knott (2005) argues that a sacred site is ‘attributed that quality by societies, groups or individuals’ (Harvey and Bowman, 2008, p40). Knott and Eliade both agree that the separateness of a particular site is manifested by the use of rituals and the different actions of individuals in that space. Many would doubt the sacredness but would ‘value the site as place to visit for a range of meaningful purposes, including leisure, the acquisition of knowledge, commerce and employment’ (Harvey and Bowman, 2008, p.41). Conflict arises when differing factions have definite ideas about the usage and functions for sacred spaces. One example of this conflict is between archaeologists and Pagans, who celebrates nature (Glossary, 2008, p225), over the removal of human remains from sacred sites like Stonehenge and Avebury. The Pagan religion would prefer them to left and the remains displayed in various collections to be reburied (Kenyon, speaking in...

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