Why do they make a pilgrimage

Pilgrimage in other world religions

Pilgrims or pilgrims?

The terms pilgrimage and pilgrimage were coined in all world religions. While the goal of a pilgrimage is the focus of the spiritual experience, a pilgrimage is also about the experiences on the way there. However, the terms cannot be neatly separated. Because whoever starts as a pilgrim can just as easily become a pilgrim and vice versa.


In the Jewish faith, pilgrimage is firmly anchored from the beginning. The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were always on the move. Almost all of the leading figures in the Old Testament are in motion. Whether prophets, kings or simple people: they seldom know exactly where their path is going and they experience God's presence along the way.

The temple in Jerusalem, the symbolic abode of God, is the great pilgrimage destination of the Jews in antiquity. Every inhabitant of Israel should make a pilgrimage there at least once a year, the Jews living in the Diaspora once in their lifetime.

The destruction of the temple by the Romans in the year 70 not only plunged all of Judaism into a crisis, it also meant the end of the traditional Jewish pilgrimage to Jerusalem as well as the end of cult activities.

From then on, the graves of prophets, patriarchs or martyrs are headed for. These actions are preserved through the Middle Ages up to modern times, even if they are no longer as common in the present as in other religions.

The former western and current Western Wall is again accessible to Jewish visitors after the Israeli conquest of Jerusalem in 1967 and is now one of the most visited places in all of Israel.

For the Jews, this 18-meter-high and 48-meter-long building continues to represent a symbol of God's covenant with the people of Israel. Not only people of Jewish faith make pilgrimages there, pray aloud or put their written prayers in the cracks with the desire for an answer Wall.


Even if it is not mentioned by name in the Koran, the city of Jerusalem is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for Islam alongside Mecca and Medina.

Before the time of the Prophet Mohammed, the prayers of Muslims went towards Jerusalem; the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in the old city of Jerusalem is the third most important mosque in Islam. Jerusalem is also seen as the "distant place of worship" from which Muhammad's ascension took place.

The pilgrimage routes in Islam are largely based on Mohammed, the founder of the religion, and can be divided into three categories:

  1. The great pilgrimage ("Hajj") to the birthplace of Muhammad, to Mecca. This pilgrimage is a duty for every Muslim, as long as it is health and financially possible. Every year around 2.5 million believers make a pilgrimage to the city of Saudi Arabia for the Hajj on the designated days. This pilgrimage is characterized by various rites that are so complex that groups of pilgrims usually need a guide.
  2. The little pilgrimage. It also leads to Mecca, but includes fewer rites and is not tied to a specific date.
  3. The third form of pilgrimage in Islam is visiting holy shrines in various places in the Islamic world. These visits to tombs or places where saints are said to have stayed are rejected by some groups in Islam because they doubt the omnipotence of Allah.

The "Mosque of the Prophet" in Medina, on the other hand, is undisputedly the second holiest place for Muslims. It is also a pilgrimage destination during the "Hajj" and houses the tomb of Mohammed. Just like in Mecca, there are sacred precincts in Medina that only Muslims are allowed to enter.


The four most important pilgrimage sites of Buddhism are closely linked to the life and work of Siddharta Gautama, the first Buddha and founder of the religion: His birthplace Lumbini in Nepal is the only place of worship outside of India. Bodh Gaya is revered as the place of his enlightenment, in Sarath Gautama taught for the first time and in Kushinagar he died.

According to a legend, the Indian ruler Osaka not only visited all these places on a pilgrimage in the third century BC, but also distributed the remains of Siddharta Gautama in 84,000 places around the world. That is an explanation for the many traditional pilgrimage sites and places of worship of Buddhism.


In Hinduism, "tirtha" means a sacred place. It translates as "ford" and is always associated with water. Such places of pilgrimage are plentiful, so that old texts almost humorous hand down that India is so full of places of pilgrimage that there is not even a sesame-sized piece of earth without a tirtha.

Typical of the third largest religion after Christianity and Islam is the caste system into which one can only be born. The caste determines the profession and the reputation of the person.

Different boxes usually have no contact. But with the "tirthas" this caste system was and is usually abolished. At holy temples and bathing lakes, everyone has equal rights.

Ascetics are a specialty in Indian religions. The strict believers live without a permanent residence in the forest and wilderness, often become saints themselves, thus forming their own "tirtha", and are visited by pilgrims.

Ascetics and pilgrims also go out together. The pilgrims take on the physical exertions of the ascetics. They walk barefoot, at least at times, and fast during the pilgrimage. Through this they want to get closer to their respective God, hope for a cure from an illness or just for a good evaluation in an exam.