Belief in God is probably innate in man. History shows that from the earliest times man has worshipped God in different forms. Some worshipped the forces of nature while others prayed to deities and idols with various forms. But the fact is that man had always sought the help of God for protection and salvation. When it was felt that things were not right, they travelled to distant places to worship their own gods. It is faith and belief in the Almighty that induces man to worship God in their own specific ways.
Fact 1 Who Are Pilgrims
People who travel to various places which are known to be sacred for religious reasons are known as pilgrims. The word pilgrim has been derived from the Latin word “peregrines” literally meaning a traveler who has come from a far off place and is on a journey to a holy place. This is a journey mostly on foot to those places that have significance to the followers of particular religious system.
Fact 2 What Pilgrims Believe
The devotees of all religions believe that making pilgrimages is the only way to attain salvation and purify oneself from sins. For this, they used to make long journeys on foot to distant places where there are huge temples, churches or mosques or gurudwaras. These journeys are often painful as pilgrims walk barefoot through rough roads and mountains, forests and deserts to reach their destinations and do not avail of any kind of transport with the thought that all sins will be washed away by bearing such hardships.
From many years History shows evidences of such pilgrims including the faiths of ancient Egypt, Persia, India, China and Japan. According to Roman and Greek customs consulting the gods at Dodona or Delphi in Greece is quite famous. In Greece, when pilgrims went on pilgrimages they were supported by the state also. The Hebrew pilgrims traveled to Shiloh, Dan, Bethel and Jerusalem.
Fact 3 Ideas Of Pilgrimages
Followers of certain faiths believed that it was not necessary to travel to a specific location. In early Celtic Christianity, there were the Peregrinari Pro Christ, in other words Pilgrims for Christ also known as “white martyrs” left their homes to wander in the world. This kind of pilgrimage was an ascetic religious practice. They left the luxury and security of their homes and traveled to unknown places with complete trust in the Divine Destiny. It has been seen that such pilgrimages gave way to the founding of new abbeys and Christianity spread in Britain and Europe.
There is also evidence of a band of French colonists who went to the New World in search of peace and wanted religious freedom. Like the later pilgrims of England, they were Protestants and were the victims of religious wars that were raging across France as well as Europe.
In American history also we come across a group of pilgrims, the separatists who founded the Plymouth Colony. The pilgrims who made the first crossing on the Mayflower were known as Pilgrim Fathers.
Fact 4 Modern Outlook
Today also many religions support pilgrimage as a spiritual activity. The great Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca is considered to be an obligatory duty for every Muslim who is able to make the journey at least once in a lifetime. Modern Christian pilgrims visit Rome, the Holy Land connected with the life of Jesus like Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Sea of Galilee and other places like Santiago, Canterbury etc.
Pilgrims now travel to distant lands to visit the holy places no matter what the religious belief may be. Irrespective of religion and belief, all those who seek freedom from worldly miseries and pain, visit these places to find peace of mind.