Religion in the Indian context is an inseparable element that dominates Indian lives, culture and psyche wherein significant number of people undertake pilgrimages every year. Pilgrims travel to different religious sites spread throughout the country and an intimate bonding exists between people and religious sites that invariably constitute their heritage. The worship of deities is a significant and popular ancient custom in the history of Indian culture. Pilgrims to any religious heritage site participate in different activities and their involvement in these activities builds their spiritual experience. So, the purpose of this research was to investigate the pilgrims experience at a religious heritage site. For this, a suitable framework called ASEB framework (activity, setting, experience and benefit) was used, and qualitative research was conducted in a natural setting at one of the venerated Hindu pilgrimage sites in North India. Certain themes and codes were identified which acted as salient parameters to evaluate the pilgrim experience at a Goddess worshipping site, called Shaktipithas. The parameters used in the study which are described as themes and codes in the research process, include specific words, phrases or issues, which commonly occurred within and across the discussion groups. The entire study is based on the authors’ direct and participant observation on site for a period of three years from 2015-2018 and the interviews conducted with different stakeholder groups. The conducted research contributes to the current body of knowledge on religious studies, as it provides a deeper insight into how the various parameters affect the spiritual experiences of a pilgrim at a religious site and moderate the visitor experience affecting the notion of pilgrimage. The research also opens up opportunities to do more qualitative / quantitative studies on the themes identified in this exploratory study or may lead to the identification of similar themes which affect the pilgrims during their most important journey, called pilgrimage, to attain salvation.
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Bhandari, Harveen and Mittal, Amit
"A Naturalistic Inquiry of Pilgrims’ Experience at a Religious Heritage Site: The Case of a Shaktipitha in India,"
International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage:
3, Article 8.
Available at: https://arrow.tudublin.ie/ijrtp/vol8/iss3/8