PILGRIMAGE - To Study the Concept of Pilgrimage in Tourism. What is Graburn’s take on Pilgrimage and Tourism?


Anthropologists have shown interest in studies of pilgrimage, which started with Van Gennep’s (1908 (1960)) Rites de Passage and was taken forward by Victor Turner (1969) who dealt with rituals and pilgrimage as a path of transition. As postulated by Turner, an individual in society undergoes three stages of social transition.

First is the stage of Separation where the individual is removed from their everyday activities with her/his community, second is Liminality where the individual is placed in a ritualistic and sacred environment and third, Reintegration where the individual is placed back to their routine life. The second stage of Liminality also holds a position of Communitas which is shared with others going through the same process at that point in time.

Turner used this same outline to discuss pilgrimage. In pilgrimage too, he deduced that people move from a systematized, normal regime and enter into a liminal and sanctified environment of a pilgrimage center. Anthropologists studying tourism, have been able to find likeness in the description of Turner’s pilgrimage with many tourism experiences. Anthropologists have linked it to Turner’s idea of Communitas where people in such situations experience, “spontaneity, personal wholeness, and social togetherness” (Nash and Smith 1991).

An example of this is the involvement people feel during the popular festival, Fiesta de San Fermín, which is held in Pamplona, Spain, or while visiting Walt Disney World. Graburn (1983) explains that such stages in people’s lives, through the use of tourism, give them much-needed change and refreshment from their daily structured lives. He opines that tourism is “one of those necessary breaks from ordinary life that characterizes all human societies, which are, moreover, necessary for the maintenance of physical and bodily health.” (1983: 11).

He states that modern-day tourism bears similarities with the pilgrimage of earlier times and hence Turner’s views on pilgrimage can be used to draw a parallel with tourism. It is the travel of both to a ‘much looked forward’ destination. However other anthropologists, see many differences between the two and point out that pilgrimage is a journey with a religious purpose leading one to a holy point whereas tourism is seen as ‘absurd’ in the sense that it has no structured purpose and leads one to the fringes (Leite and Graburn 2009).

Newer ethnographic work has led anthropologists to advise that pilgrimage and tourism should not be theoretically distinguished from the context of anthropology but can only be evaluated from the perspective of their background or their heuristic conditions (Badone and Rosemon 2004). Sometimes (as noted by Basu 2004, Ebron 2000, and Graburn 2004), tourism in the context of pilgrimage is also seen from the standpoint of the structure of pilgrimage which is evoked as corresponding to tourism and how it affects it.

Anthropologists point out that pilgrimage is also used in the context of identity tourism, for example, “roots pilgrimage” refers to a journey to the home of one’s ancestors (Basu 2007,) or, “queer pilgrimage”, refers to a journey to San Francisco which is known as a homeland of gays (Howe 2001). Such sites have an immense emotional value equivalent to a pilgrimage site. For the tourist, the sacredness lies in the gravity of the intent of the journey and the lasting impression that the visit would bring at its end.

A pilgrimage is a sacred journey, undertaken for a spiritual purpose. Pilgrims are different from tourists: they travel for spiritual reasons, not just to relax or for fun. Pilgrimage is a search for meaning, purpose, values, or truth (and in this sense, like life). 

A pilgrimage is a devotional practice consisting of a prolonged journey, often undertaken on foot or on horseback, toward a specific destination of significance. It is an inherently transient experience, removing the participant from his or her home environment and identity.

All major religions of the world have laid great emphasis on the sacredness of certain localities and have either enjoined or recommended with great insistence, pilgrimages to them. These places are famous for miracles and the 'inspiration for the religious life of the faithful or the revivification of faith,A religious believer in any culture may feel the call of such a place which may lie at a distance and resolve to journey there, i.e., to undertake a pilgrimage to the sacred site.

Most people understand pilgrimage as a journey to a holy place or shrine, either in the pilgrim's native land or abroad. The object of pilgrimage is to obtain some benefit - material, symbolic, moral or spiritual - which the sanctity of the chosen spot is believed to confer. A pilgrimage may'be undertaken because such a journey is considered meritorious. The idea of the acquisition of divine favop, either directly or through a saint, is generally associated with such a journey. The benefits expect& out of the labor or travail involved in the journey or expedition to the destination of pilgrimage, i.e., holy place, may range from the satisfaction of Sudan's interests to the highest spiritual attainment. But the journey has a root in the reli1ious beliefs of the person(s) undertaking it. Jle journey to the sacred spot is always associated with some religious motive or motives which are, in one way or another, religious ideas and beliefs.

Which anthropologist’s seminal work on rites of passage has influenced scholars to study the concept of pilgrimage in tourism?

What is Graburn’s take on pilgrimage and tourism? 

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