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cultural.india.peperonity.net

Indian Pilgrimage

India is a vast country, with diverse cultures and ancient civilization. There are a number of religious groups residing in India. In India we find the oldest pilgrimage tradition in the whole world. The practice of pilgrimage in India is so deeply embedded in the cultural psyche and the number of pilgrimage sites is so large that the entire subcontinent may actually be regarded as one grand and continuous sacred place. The earliest sources of information on the matter of sacred space come from the Rig Veda and the Atharva Veda.

Following the Vedic period the practice of pilgrimage seems to have become quite common, as is evident from sections of the great epic, the Mahabharata (350 BC), which mentions more than 300 sacred sites spanning the sub-continent. By the time of the Puranas, the number of sacred sites had grown considerably, reflecting both the ongoing assimilation of aboriginal sacred places and the increased importance of pilgrimage as a customary religious practice.

Hindus call the sacred places tirthas and the action of going on a pilgrimage is called tirtha-yatra. The word tirtha means river ford, steps to a river, or place of pilgrimage. In Vedic times the word may have concerned only those sacred places associated with water, but by the time of the Mahabharata, tirtha had come to denote any holy place, be it a lake, mountain, forest, or cave. Tirthas are more than physical locations, however. Pious Hindus believe them to be spiritual fords, the meeting place of heaven and earth, the locations where one crosses the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth to reach the shore of liberation.

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Ajmer Sharif | Bodh Gaya | Char Dham | Golden Temple | Haridwar | Mansarovar | Mathura | Nashik | Puri | Rameshwaram | Ujjain | Varanasi | Badrinath | Belur Math | Dwarka | Guruvayoor Temple | Patna Sahib | Pushkar | Puttaparthi | Shirdi | Siddhivinayak Temple | Somnath Temple | Tirupati Balaji | Vaishno Devi


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