How to Be a Successful Pilgrim
Travelling for a religious purpose to a pilgrim town is very different from a summer holiday with family or backpacking with friends. These steps will help you become a successful pilgrim. Please note that "temple" is used as a generic term, but you could well substitute it with churche/mosque/synagogue or any other place of worship.
Feel as if God wants you to undertake this journey and remain eager to see the temple.Slowly, bring the shrine and the particular deity into your consciousness, right from the time you get the idea to go on the trip. Search the net for articles and experiences of people who visited the same place and your urge to make it happen will become stronger.As that happens, the Universe will pave the way for you to reach your destination, and all the details will fall into place.
Book a flight after checking the timings of the place of worship.If a temple is closed between 1.p.m. and 4p.m.,you would not want a flight which arrives during those hours. Most pilgrim spots are small towns which have little to offer in terms of entertainment, so long hours of waiting could bring on serious boredom.For the same reason, keep your trip short and try to take the return flight as soon as you finish your visit to the shrine(s).
Book a hotel room if you find you need to stay more than a day.Choose wisely- remember you are visiting a holy town for a day or two, you don't really need a swimming pool and a spa during that period.Don't make luxury a priority and pay for facilities you might never use. Instead choose a hotel that offers acceptable levels of comfort and is located close to the temple.
- If your hotel offers transfers from and to the airport, you're lucky. Otherwise, hop onto a local taxi or bus which will take you to your hotel. Choose a mode of transport that has been approved by a local government body. That way, you have less chances of getting ripped off by touts who abound in pilgrim spots.
Be prepared to withstand physical strain.Some places require climbing several flights of stairs or long hours of walking or standing in queues.
Safeguard your money.The road to temples is often lined with shops selling flowers, candles,lamps, holy threads, cloth pieces of holy colours, food items special to the place, etc. The shopkeepers often hound pilgrims into buying them and make it appear as though your trip will be meaningless without these offerings. Do not feel obliged or get talked into buying anything. Only buy if you feel convinced that you must follow the custom. Sometimes, managing all the paraphernalia in your hands can be distracting while you worship-so think before you buy.
Be aware about technology.Many temples prohibit the use of mobile phones and cameras. You will be asked to deposit your gadgets at a special counter at the entrance,(sometimes for a fee) that many temples have, and collect them later.
Get in the right mood.At least 10 minutes before you reach the main spot,avoid chatting or laughing with those around and make an effort to quiet yourself inside. Focus your energies on God and the reason you are there. If you know any prayers or chants,repeat them to yourself.
Why the Bible called the travelers map of the pilgrims staff?
- Be culturally sensitive. Some temples prohibit leather, some don't allow entry to foreigners inside the main sanctuary.Rather than argue with the local authorities after reaching there, be informed of these restrictions before and act accordingly. While temples and mosques can be noisy, churches have a hushed silence inside and it would be disturbing to others if you are strolling around with a bawling infant or talking on your mobile.
- Dress sensibly according to the religious customs of the place. Avoid exposed limbs,which might be considered objectionable in some places. In general it is better to err on the conservative side.If you are a woman, now is not the time for deeply cut blouses or extra tight T- shirts or jeans. The reason there is a dress code for holy places is so that pilgrims are not distracted and are able to concentrate on their worship. Some holy places require one's head to be covered with a scarf.
- Also dress according to the temperature and whether the trip requires any climbing of hills or walking for a long time.
- Conduct yourself in a way in which you don't offend the sensibilities of other devotees and violate local norms.
- Be patient in long queues.Don't jostle and push your way around. Everyone is equal in the eyes of God and there's no reason you should be allowed first.
- Beware of touts and anyone who promises to get you any kind of deal. They are likely to be frauds.This is especially so if you are a foreigner to that country and visually seem like one.
- In many Hindu temples in India, people of other religions are not allowed into the main shrine.However, you mustn't be disappointed as there is enough architectural splendour in the rest of the temple to keep you clicking away and ask the guide a zillion questions.
- If you are asthmatic or diabetic or have any medical condition that may need emergency aid, keep the relevant supplies handy.
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