Travel and sociocultural sustainability. A perspective from religious tourism and pilgrimage

By Neus Crous-Costa

Tourism these days is not only a fast-growing industry worldwide, which carries blessings as well as undesired effects, it is also a field that is receiving more and more attention from a myriad of academic perspectives. It is no secret that travel and tourism are of a cross-disciplinary nature, since they have impacts at all levels: ecological, cultural and social, economic and political. Of course, this works in both directions.

IMG_20181014 Ortodox Cathedral - Iasi Romania
Ortodox Cathedral – Iasi Romania

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‘Walkshops’ and ‘Talkshops’ on Sri Lanka’s Holy Mountain

Sri Pada
Sri Pada. Photo credit to the author.

By Ian McIntosh

Back in the 1980s, in the midst of Sri Lanka’s civil war, an initiative by the NGO Save the Children Norway, sought to promote ethnic and religious harmony through what they called ‘walkshops’ and ‘talkshops’ on the holy mountain, Adam’s Peak.

Up until the 1960s, Adam’s Peak – also known as Sri Pada (the sacred footprint) – was the greatest interfaith pilgrimage site on earth, attracting Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, Christians and others in vast numbers. Prior to the civil war, members of these faith groups would climb together and worship by the imprint in the rock that they recognize as the mark of Buddha, Shiva, Adam (after he was expelled from paradise), and the apostle to the world, St Thomas. The indigenous god of the mountain, Saman, was also venerated. Except for perhaps Jerusalem, there is no other site with such widespread religious significance.

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Pilgrimage and Peace-building

 by Ian McIntosh

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It was Aboriginal Australia and the spiritual traditions of the first peoples that introduced me to the world of religious pilgrimage. Over many years, beginning in the early 1980s, I would join the Aborigines of northern Australia on journeys to sacred sites to learn about their timeless mysteries through song, dance, folklore and art. It was this experience that was also my entry point to peace studies, and in particular, the study of truth and reconciliation – making amends for historical injustices.

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