Friday, March 7, 2014

Spiritual Pilgrimage & Spiritual Tourism


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“Spiritual pilgrimage is a physical journey toward a place of sacred or religious significance. Pilgrimages are more commonly thought of as solo ventures, but they can involve a shared group experience.”

“Desecration (also called desacralization or desanctification) is the act of depriving something of its sacred character, or the disrespectful or contemptuous treatment of that which is held to be sacred or holy by a group or individual, particularly if those systems are part of naturalistic spiritual religion.

“A Buddhist monk from Taiwan said on Wednesday he was launching a movement to preserve sacred sites around the globe and urged leaders of all faiths to join with world leaders to prevent their destruction….’War, environmental degradation, religious intolerance and cultural indifference threaten sacred sites around the world on a daily basis. No religion is spared. It is time to act,''

“Very few people outside of China have heard of Henan province but almost every one has heard of Shaolin Kungfu from Henan’s Shaolin Temple. The Shaolin Temple is easily Henan’s most famous and most commercialized travel destination. This fame and popularity is in danger of destroying the Shaolin Temple and at the very least, damaging it’s core values…..Like so many popular travel destinations, the Shaolin Temple and its famous Kungfu are now extremely commercialized and exploited for the income that tourism can bring. The temple now teams with tourists that arrive by the busload and is covered by kiosk, vendors and a multitude of hawkers. Ironically most tourists do not even know that the Shaolin Temple is a Buddhist temple, much less a Zen Buddhist temple.”….Is Tourism Destroying China’s Shaolin Temple?…..CHINA TRAVEL NEWS — BY BRENDON ON

Shangrila (香格里拉; Xiānggélǐlā; formerly Zhongdian 中甸 in Chinese, known as Gyalthang in Tibetan) is in Yunnan Province. ….most parts of the town was burnt down on 11 January 2014,…..The town is split between Tibetan and ethnic Han residents, as well as a fair smattering of Naxi, Bai, Yi and Lisu, with the surrounding countryside entirely Tibetan. While the crass name change in 2001 was a sign of the desire for increasing mass tourism a la Lijiang, the town has got nowhere near Lijiang's crowds, and it's still possible to experience the area's Tibetan heritage and see gorgeous countryside in near isolation…..Zhongdian was renamed Shangrila for marketing reasons. Signs in bus stations still use Zhongdian. There is also a third name in Tibetan, Gyelthang. The original Shangrila, from James Hilton's novel The Lost Horizon, was a (fictional) hidden paradise whose inhabitants lived for centuries. Hilton (who never went to China) located his Shangri-La in the Kunlun mountains. However, elements of his story were apparently inspired by National Geographic articles about various places in eastern Tibet (including Zhongdian); hence China's rationale for claiming the name….Local Khampa Tibetans claim that the name Shangri-la was most likely derived from their word for paradise "Shambala," by Hilton through exposure to Rock's writings on the region.

“The Old Town of Lijiang (simplified Chinese: 丽江古城; traditional Chinese: 麗江古城; pinyin: Lìjiāng Gǔchéng) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Lijiang City, Yunnan, China….The town has a history going back more than 800 years and was once a confluence for trade along the old tea horse road. It is famous for its orderly system of waterways and bridges. The old town of Lijiang differs from other ancient Chinese cities in architecture, history and the culture of its traditional residents the Nakhi people….Lijiang's tourism also boomed, and travellers from around the world flooded in; although many locals fear that due to much of the development, the old town of Lijiang will lose its appeal…..Recently, the government has started to develop additional "old city" sections adjacent to the site of the original old city. This is to accommodate the large number of tourists who walk the cobblestone streets (cars are not allowed in the old city), typically as part of package tours. Evenings in the old city can be particularly rowdy, not least due to the many outdoor bars, where boisterous groups of tourists try ousting other groups”…..

“Pakistan's polytheistic Kalash tribe threatened with death by Taliban…..Video released by Taliban calls on Sunnis to join fight against Kalash people and moderate Ismaili Muslims in Chitral valley ( 13 Feb 2014)…….The Kalasha are the last followers of a pre-Islamic religion which was practiced across much of the Hindu Kush mountain range. Their faith has no canonical texts, it is defined instead by the landscape which the Kalasha live in and the ceremonies, rites, taboos and festivals that they observe…..Accurate population statistics regarding the Kalasha are difficult to ascertain, but it is probable that they number between 3,000 and 4,000…. A major constituent of Zoshi are group rituals where often over one hundred men and women link arms in prolonged dances. The spectacle of these dances is the single greatest draw for tourists visiting the Kalasha…..Zoshi in 2013 was a bumper event for regional tourism, the security situation was better than in previous years and domestic tourists – as well as the odd foreign one – were present in considerable numbers. The army and the police were also out in force. A necessary precaution with Taliban units the across Afghan border only a few hours march away…..This double load of outsiders made many of the Kalasha I spoke to feel uncomfortable…..Kalasha was the unwelcome gawping of visitors. Although all the tourists I spoke to expressed un-feigned admiration for Kalasha costume, their presence in such large numbers felt like a trespass on the festival.”….

“The Hopi Reservation, 1.6 million acres of mostly raw wilderness, is home to 12 small, autonomous villages that pepper three high-desert mesas in northeastern Arizona. As a tribe, the Hopi have been protective of their traditions and ways of life — and their privacy…..But the opening of a native-owned hotel in 2010, and the creation this summer of an arts trail that leads to galleries and crafters' workshops, signals a new openness among many of the villages. The driving motivation: economic development that, in turn, will keep tribal members here and, ultimately, help keep the culture alive…..Unemployment among the 9,500 reservation residents is at least 50%. There are few commercial enterprises save for small family-owned shops in which artisans sell their pottery, silver jewelry, baskets or carvings. There are no fast-food joints, no convenience stores, and the nearest Walmart is 130 miles away….The villages have a love-hate relationship with tourism. We've engaged visitors since the railroad came in. Hopis try to be the best hosts we can be. But we also expect (visitors) to respect our traditions and ways….the village of Walpi, which for decades has admitted paying visitors accompanied by a local guide, is empty. The 900-year-old settlement is dramatically perched atop the narrow end of a 300-foot-high mesa. Though the last full-time residents moved out last year (there's no electricity or water), families maintain ancestral homes to use during Hopi dances and ceremonies that occur almost monthly….Some ceremonies, which feature masked dancers representing kachinas, are open to the public here as in other villages. But photography, taping and sketching are prohibited. Visitors checking in for Walpi tours see a posted 1992 declaration noting that outsiders are banned from most dances because of a Marvel Comics depiction of ceremonial kachinas.”…

“As Tourists Stream In, Mayan Leaders Barred From Sacred Sites…..Mayan spiritual leaders (and the academics who study Mayan culture) have long disputed the pop-cultural consensus, and the appropriation of their cultural heritage for profit…. ”We are speaking out against deceit, lies and twisting of the truth, and turning us into folklore-for-profit. They are not telling the truth about time cycles,” charged Felipe Gomez, leader of the Maya alliance Oxlaljuj Ajpop…..Now, as a flood of tourists stream in to see various Maya sacred sites before and on December 21st, Mexico has barred present-day Mayan spiritual leaders from performing rites at Mayan ruins and temples…..the government won’t allow Mayan priests and healers to perform their ceremonies inside archaeological sites like Chichen Itza, Coban and Tulum that their ancestors built. “We would like to do these ceremonies in the archaeological sites, but unfortunately they won’t let us enter,” Manrique Esquivel said. “It makes us angry, but that’s the way it is … we perform our rituals in patios, in fields, in vacant lots, wherever we can.” ….

“Hula and Tourism….Contemporary hula is a medium of entertainment, with lovely hula hands and swaying hips telling a romantic story. In ancient times, hula was a sacred art, danced for the gods who aided mankind…. When Westerners arrived in Hawai'i, the hula was Hawai'i's living theater, danced as an accompaniment to an oral tradition of poetry. In 1819, the Hawaiians struck the first blow against hula when they destroyed their own temples, generally considered a consequence of contact with Westerners. Then the missionaries came and decreed the hula lewd and offensive to their puritan ethics. Once their authority was established, the missionaries made strenuous efforts to abolish this aspect of ancient Hawaiian culture. Though it never became extinct, the hula faded from public sight during the middle decades of the 19th century, performed only surreptitiously among the rural people….Since tourists started coming to the Islands in greater numbers around the turn of the 20th century, the modern hula girl has been a ubiquitous presence, both as an entertainment figure and as an advertising icon. Traditional hula gradually became more frivolous and just another part of the exoticism that Hawai`i represented to visitors. Hula accompaniment expanded during the reign of Kalakaua to include instruments like the `ukulele and guitar. In the following decades, dancing to hapa-haole songs became more common than performing the old-style chants and mele.”

“Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, received nearly eight million tourists in 2013, regional tourism authorities revealed on Sunday. Renowned as the "sun city," Lhasa saw a 22.76 percent year-on-year increase in tourist arrivals from China and overseas last year, said Dong Tianlin, an official with the local tourism bureau. In 2013, tourism revenues in the city exceeded 8.2 billion yuan (about 1.34 billion U.S. dollars), up 25.47 percent on the previous year. Dong said tourism has become one of the leading economic growth engines for the region. Local tourism authorities and companies have figured out various ways to attract travellers in off-peak season, such as offering lower prices during the winter….For example, the ticket price for Potala Palace in the heart of Lhasa was cut by half to 100 yuan per person in winter," Dong said…As Tibetan New Year or "Losar" approaches, falling on March 2 this year, tourists carrying cameras have begun to flock to the streets of Lhasa…..lhasa, tibet: red light district…..we asked some old, alcoholic ex-pats where the prostitutes hung out. we knew they'd be able to tell us. …when we told the cabbie to take us to the red light, he laughed. ….we expected the hookers to be destitute tibetans, but everyone we encountered was chinese.”

“Shangrila (香格里拉; Xiānggélǐlā; formerly Zhongdian 中甸 in Chinese, known as Gyalthang in Tibetan) is in Yunnan Province.….SelectClassic Shangri-La Tour….8 days/ 7 nights….This tour brings you a great opportunity to explore the amazing Southwestern China. In 8 days, you will see the real native life in Dali and Lijiang. Then continue to Shangri-La and enjoy yourself in the fantastic wonderland….. The old town is rapidly being turned into a mini-Lijiang, complete with endless shophouses selling tourist trinkets (including fake tiger skins and counterfeit North Face jackets), minority costumed dancers and too-clean streets. The temple at the top of the hill gives a free taste of what can be seen in Songzanlin Monastery. The nightly dancing in the square beginning at 8PM is popular for locals of all ages, and anyone is welcome to join in. The whole thing lasts for an hour and each song has its own set of moves choreographed by Raihan Zhang. Most of the old town was burned by a fire in january 2014. Actually most of it is totally destroyed.”

Kumbh Mela (/ˌkʊm ˈmeɪlə/ or /ˌkʊm məˈlɑː/; Devanagari: कुम्भ मेला "kumbha mēlā", Marathi कुंभमेळा) "kumbh mela" is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river….The rivers at these four places are: the Ganges (Ganga) at Haridwar, the confluence (Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Allahabad, the Godawari at Nashik, and the Shipra at Ujjain….The first written evidence of the Kumbh Mela can be found in the accounts of Chinese monk Xuanzang (玄奘, alternately Hsuan Tsang) who visited India in 629–645 CE, during the reign of King Harshavardhana….. The Samudra manthan episode (Churning of the ocean of milk), is mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Purana, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana……"I had an awesome experience with the Divine Travels tour to the Kumbh Mela. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime."--Deborah, hairdesigner, Ohio…Guiding a diverse group of Westerners through a festival attended by close to 100 million people was a difficult challenge but the Divine Travels staff managed it with great efficiency, patience and kindness….

“The Hajj (Arabic: حج‎ Ḥaǧǧ "pilgrimage") is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and the largest gathering of Muslim people in the world every year…The word Hajj means "to intend a journey" which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions….The Hajj is associated with the life of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham (Ibrahim). Pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: Each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Ka'aba, the cube-shaped building which acts as the Muslim direction of prayer, runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, and throws stones in a ritual Stoning of the Devil. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three day global festival of Eid al-Adha…….Premier Hajj and Umrah is a dedicated UK based tour operator that provides high-end Hajj and Umrah packages catering for every aspect of your journey…..£4295.00/All Inc….Five Star Hotels in Mecca and Medina…. In Mena, pilgrims will enjoy accommodations at our coveted Dar El Salam Mena Camp located directly in front of the Jamarat with access to our private and exclusive V.I.P Lounge. Pilgrims will enjoy sleeping accommodations in upgraded air-conditioned luxury tents where single beds will be furnished for each pilgrim. Dar El Salam’s renowned daily open buffet will be offered…….Starting from $14,100”

“Lourdes, France is a major point of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics, famous for the purported apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858….Despite a permanent population of barely 15,000, Lourdes accommodates up to 5 million pilgrims annually……Lourdes tours are available through operators like 206 Tours, which offers departures from New York and other US gateways. This six-night tour includes hotel stays and transfers, daily breakfast and dinner and assistance from a local Roman Catholic guide. In addition to stopping at the sites associated with Bernadette, guests can attend Mass at the Grotto, see a video presentation about Lourdes, walk the life-sized Stations of the Cross and (from spring to autumn) participate in the candlelight procession and group rosary. Catholic Priest available for Spiritual Direction….$4,099.00”

“Tibet Mt. Kailash pilgrimage tour ….In ancient period, it took years for sages and saints to reach Mt. Kailash for salvation (Mukti), and above that it was inaccessible for common people. But now because of modern transport system, the path to salvation is no longer an isolated dream. Now it doesn't take more than two weeks to materialize your much awaited life time dream. As sacred scripture says the path to divinity is always difficult, your trip to Mt. Kailash will be adventurous making you longing for Mt. Kailash. The trip begins from Kathmandu with a scenic drive to Zhangmu in Tibet crossing Nepalese border Kodari. After Zhangmu comfortable Japanese Landcruiser made for rough and tough road will take you to the holy Lake Mansarovar and Mt. Kailash for the pilgrimage circumbulation which is also called kora. You will be blessed with holy bath and parikrama to achieve your ultimate spiritual goal before returning to Kathmandu….Note: Full Moon supplement Charge Will be US $ 150 Per person Extra….Yaks & Yak men for luggage during Kailash Parikrama.”

“Amarnath cave is a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is dedicated to Shiva. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft), about 141 km (88 mi) from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir and reached through Pahalgam town. The shrine forms an important part of Hinduism, and is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. The cave is surrounded by snowy mountains……..Tour Details… After early morning wake up call, proceed to the helipad (5 to 10 minutes walk from the huts), to take a Helicopter ride to the Holy Cave for Pooja and Darshan (time 1 to 1.5 hours). Return to the helipad after your Darshan and fly back to Baltal. Pickup from Baltal and drive to Srinagar, enroute visit Khirbhawani Temple (time permitting). Reach Srinagar and check in to a Deluxe Houseboat/ Hotel for an overnight stay. …”


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