Path to Siva: A Catechism for Youth

65 How Do We Observe Pilgrimage?§


Pilgrims climb the steps to visit the world’s second largest Siva sculpture, located in murudeshwara near the seashore in Karnataka, India. Each step brings them closer to their loving God.§


We prepare ourselves for our yearly pilgrimage inwardly and outwardly. First we have to decide where to go, how to get there and how long to be away from home. We want to choose a temple that inspires us. It could be the famed Mahakaleshwar Siva temple of Ujjain, or the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, both in the middle of large cities. Or it could be a remote place, such as Rameshwaram, near the tip of South India, with its purifying wells. Or it could be a holy site that is even harder to reach, such as Mount Kailas in Nepal or the Amarnath Cave in Kashmir. We may also choose a holy place in Europe, the Americas, Malaysia or Australia. Then we make sure that our affairs will be taken care of in our absence, allowing us to concentrate on the pilgrimage. We prepare inwardly as well. Before a pilgrimage, some devotees will fast, eating just one meal a day for a week or as long as a month. Others do extra sadhanas and attend their local temple daily. All get the satguru’s blessings for the journey. Once we reach the destination, we throw ourself into the worship and attend every possible puja. We meditate deeply afterwards. We put all our concerns, worries, hopes and dreams at the feet of the Deity. We go home inspired and fulfilled. This is true pilgrimage. As Hindus, we don’t necessarily feel the need to take a vacation to get away from it all. We live a moderate, unhurried life and look at our pilgrimage as a special, cherished time to take problems and prayers to God. We know that the blessings received will recharge our batteries and inspire us to do even better in our daily life. On pilgrimage we hope for special moments with the Deity, even an encounter with God at the holy destination. These spiritual moments will grow within us for years to come.§


GURUDEVA: Different temples become famous for answering certain types of prayers, such as requests for financial help, or prayers for the right mate in marriage, prayers for healing, prayers to be entrusted with the raising of high-souled children, or help in matters of yoga, or help in inspiring bhakti and love.§