5. Pilgrimage – cont.

Figure 1 - The Pilgrimage 

Smith (1992) identifies tourism and pilgrimage as opposite end points on a continuum of travel (Figure 1). The polarities on the pilgrimage-tourism axis are labelled as sacred vs. secular and between the extremities lie almost infinite possible sacred-secular combinations, with the central area (c) now generally termed ‘religious tourism’. These positions reflect the multiple and changing motivations of the traveller whose interests and activities may switch from tourism to pilgrimage and vice versa, even without the individual being aware of the change. Jackowski and Smith (1992) use the term ‘knowledge-based tourism’ as synonymous with religious tourism. Most researchers identify ‘Religious Tourism’ with the individual’s quest for shrines and locales where, in lieu of piety, the visitors seek to experience the sense of identity with sites of historical and cultural meaning (Nolan and Nolan, 1989). Contemporary research deals with the complicated relationship between pilgrimage and tourism, including the economic, political, social, psychological, emotional, and other aspects. Representative of this research are Eade’s (1992) article which describes the interaction between pilgrims and tourists at Lourdes; Rinschede (1992) who develops a typology of tourist uses of pilgrimage sites; Vukoni’c’s book (1996) about the connection between tourism and religion; and the Nolans (1989, 1992) who introduced a three-tier typology of sites. Cohen (1979) proposed a continuum as a discriminating distinction between five types of tourist experience. It is based on the place and significance of tourist experience in the total world-view of tourists: their relationship to a perceived‘centre’ and the location of that centre in relation to the society in which the tourist lives. One can not describe ‘the tourist’ as a ‘general type’ (Cohen, 1979:180). Therefore there are several tourist experiences which will help in the understanding of the phenomena of pilgrimage. Five main modes are defined, presenting the spectrum between the experience of the tourist as a traveller in pursuit of ‘mere’ pleasure, and that of the modern pilgrim in quest of meaning at someone else’s centre. He classifies them as the ‘Recreational mode’, the ‘Diversionary mode’, the ‘Experiential mode’, the ‘Experimental mode’ and the ‘Existential mode’ (Cohen, 1979, p. 183). Cohen (1979) claims that tourists travelling in the ‘existential mode’ are analogous to pilgrims. Both are fully committed to an elective spiritual centre, external to the mainstream of their native society and culture because they feel that the only meaningful ‘real’ life is at the centre. Cohen’s (1992) research on tourist and pilgrim activities at sites in Thailand claims that pilgrimage and tourism differ in terms of the direction of the journey undertaken. The pilgrim and the ‘pilgrim-tourist’ peregrinate toward their sociocultural centre, while the traveller and the ‘traveller-tourist’ move in the opposite direction. Many attempts are underway, indicating that the difference between old-fashioned pilgrimage and tourism is narrowing. Numerous points of similarity are emerging, and the word ’pilgrimage’ itself is widely used in broad and secular contexts, such as for visits to war graves or the graves and residences of celebrities: for example, Elvis Presley’s mansion and tomb in Memphis (Reader and Walter, 1993).