Preparations for the Sabarimala pilgrimage involves devotees observing a 41 day period of austerity (vrata) during which they practice an ascetic life. Women between the age of 10 and 50 do not visit the shrine at Sabarimala due to long-established customs. However, women do play an important role during the 41-day austerity observed by family members preparing for the pilgrimage, which could be described as a non-participant involvement in the pilgrimage. While there have been many studies on the spiritual and secular experiences of pilgrims, research on this unique form of non-participant involvement in pilgrimages is not found especially in the Indian context. This study explores the religious experience of female family members, who do not join the pilgrimage but participate by assisting family members going on the Sabarimala pilgrimage. The study aims to identify their unique experience from multiple perspectives such as personal, interpersonal, and societal through a constructivist approach. Adopting qualitative research methods, interviews were carried out among female members of Sabarimala pilgrims’ families in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to get insight into their experiences and their involvement in the pilgrimage process. The findings of the study propose Sabarimala pilgrimage as a very important social process which cements and strengthens family relationships and togetherness.
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P.J., Shyju; Vinodan, A.; Meera, S.; and Kokkranikal, Jithendran
"Women’s Experiences in Religious Tourism: An Investigation into Women’s Involvement in Sabarimala Pilgrimage, Kerala,"
International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage:
5, Article 3.
Available at: https://arrow.tudublin.ie/ijrtp/vol9/iss5/3