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God's GatewayIdentity and Meaning in a Hindu Pilgrimage Place$
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James Lochtefeld

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195386141

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195386141.001.0001

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Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in a Changing World

Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in a Changing World

(p.203) 8 Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in a Changing World
God's Gateway

James G. Lochtefeld (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The concluding chapter examines how Hindu pilgrimage—and ideas about pilgrimage—have been affected by social change. One such change is the promotion of tourism, which has brought significant economic benefits and pernicious social effects, among them attracting a clientele seeking ease and entertainment. Another is greater literacy and scientific education, which have generated greater skepticism about the literal reality of religious merit (punya). A final factor has been the rise of Hindu nationalism (Hindutva), in which pilgrim crowds can send a political message. These changes have prompted a variety of Hindu responses. Some simply lament how such changes have disrupted traditional religious patterns, and others completely reject these patterns. The most sophisticated and productive responses have sought to reinterpret traditional ideas into a religious paradigm appropriate for contemporary times.

Keywords:   Hindu nationalism, Hindutva, pilgrim, pilgrimage, punya, religious change, social change, tourism, tourists

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