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Religious tourism and religious tolerance: insights from pilgrimage sites in India

Kiran A Shinde (Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University, Pune, India)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 17 August 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the ways in which religious tourism in India fosters religious tolerance.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses a conceptual apparatus derived from the basic structure of religious tourism comprising motivation, journey and destination, to understand various aspects of tolerance. Tolerance, with the implicit meaning of diversity and pluralism, is examined at two levels – intra-religion and inter-religion – using field investigations from three Hindu pilgrimage sites, namely, Vrindavan, Tuljapur, Shegaon and review of one Muslim site called Ajmer Sharif. These sites exhibit a range of combinations, sectarian traditions within Hindu and their interactions with others, including Muslims and foreigners.

Findings

Each of the sites provides different sets of opportunities for the “others” to get exposed to religious and cultural aspects. It is found that tolerance within the Hindu sects and with non-Hindus from other religious faiths is a function of their engagement with cultural performances and participation in the religious tourism economy in a pilgrimage site.

Originality/value

On a broader level, this paper argues that conceptualising tolerance within a social and cultural sphere helps in a better understanding of tolerance and identifying areas within religious tourism where it can be promoted. A conscious effort to promote tolerance through religious tourism will add value to religious tourism and help it thrive.

Keywords

Citation

Shinde, K.A. (2015), "Religious tourism and religious tolerance: insights from pilgrimage sites in India", Tourism Review, Vol. 70 No. 3, pp. 179-196. https://doi.org/10.1108/TR-10-2013-0056

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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