Religious Journeys in India

Pilgrims, Tourists, and Travelers

Edited by Andrea Marion Pinkney & John Whalen-Bridge

Subjects: India And South Asian Studies, Asian Studies, Ethnography, Anthropology Of Religion, Asian Religion And Philosophy
Hardcover : 9781438466033, 338 pages, September 2018
Paperback : 9781438466026, 338 pages, January 2019

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: New Motivations for Religious Travel in India
Andrea Marion Pinkney and John Whalen-Bridge
Part I. Constructing Community Spaces
1. Making Sacred Islamic Space in Contemporary India
Carla Bellamy
2. Remaking Thai Buddhism through International Pilgrimage to South Asia
Joanna Cook
3. Augmenting Pilgrimages: A Religious Theme Park in Shegaon, India
Kiran A. Shinde
Part II. Pilgrimage as Paradox
4. Appropriating Ayodhya on “Valor Day”: Hindu Nationalism and Pilgrimage as Politics
Dibyesh Anand
5. Bihar as Christian Anti-Pilgrimage Site: Missions, Evangelism, and Religious Geography
Robbie Goh
6. Seeking the Self in a Land of Strangers: New Religiosity and the Spiritual Marketplace of Rishikesh
Alex Norman
7. Proxy Pilgrimage: Seeing Tibet in Dharamsala, India
John Whalen-Bridge
Part III. Reversals and Revisions
8. The Power of the “Little Hajj”: Memory, Ritual, and Pilgrimage in South Indian Islam
Afsar Mohammad
9. What Are Sikhs Doing at “Historical Gurdwaras” If They’re Not on Pilgrimage? Saints, Dust, and Memorial Presence at Sikh Religious Places
Andrea Marion Pinkney

10. “Reverse Pilgrimage”: Performance, Manipuri Identity, and the RanganiketanCultural Arts Troupe
Rodney Sebastian
11. Imagined Place: Missionary Women’s Journeys in Southern India
Roberta Wollons

Explores how religious travel in India is transforming religious identities and self-constructions.


In an increasingly global world where convenient modes of travel have opened the door to international and intraregional tourism and brought together people from different religious and ethnic communities, religious journeying in India has become the site of evolving and often paradoxical forms of self-construction. Through ethnographic reflections, the contributors to this volume explore religious and nonreligious motivations for religious travel in India and show how pilgrimages, missionary travel, the exportation of cultural art forms, and leisure travel among coreligionists are transforming not only religious but also regional, national, transnational, and personal identities. The volume engages with central themes in South Asian studies such as gender, exile, and spirituality; a variety of religions, including Sikhism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity; and understudied regions and emerging places of pilgrimage such as Manipur and Maharashtra.

Andrea Marion Pinkney is Associate Professor of South Asian Religions at McGill University. John Whalen-Bridge is Associate Professor of English at the National University of Singapore. He is the coeditor (with Gary Storhoff) of many books, including The Emergence of Buddhist American Literature; American Buddhism as a Way of Life; Writing as Enlightenment: Buddhist American Literature into the Twenty-first Century; and Buddhism and American Cinema, all published by SUNY Press. He is also the author of Tibet on Fire: Buddhism, Protest, and the Rhetoric of Self-Immolation.


"The strengths of this book are its broad cross-cultural and interdisciplinary purview, its theoretical sophistication, its questioning of conventional understandings of pilgrimage, and a credible index … Religious Journeys in India is recommended for both undergraduate and graduate courses in religious pilgrimage, religious tourism, theories of religion, and transnational flows of spiritual traditions. " — Nova Religio

"Given the breadth of theme, chapters from this book will be of interest to a wide variety of scholars of South Asia. " — Reading Religion

"It's rare to find such diverse accounts of religious travel collected in a single volume, where scholars' engagements with individual places of pilgrimage in India and with the journeys surrounding them are truly in conversation with one another. For readers, it makes for a deeply enlightening journey. It also raises an interesting question: Is the reality of India powerful enough that it absorbs divergent expressions of religious tourism, making of them a common fabric? Here, so unusually, readers have the materials to decide. " — John Stratton Hawley, author of A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement