Holy places

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Holy places are sites that religions considers to be of special religious significance. Holy places are often visited by pilgrims.

Baha'i[edit]

Located in Bahji near Acre, Israel, the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh is the most holy place for Bahá'ís and their Qiblih, or direction of prayer. It contains the remains of Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith and is near the spot where he died in the Mansion of Bahjí. The second holiest site is the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa.[1]

In Iran, the Baha'is possessed several important holy sites, including the House of the Bab in Shiraz; the House of Baha' Allah's father in Tehran; the shrine and grave of Quddus. Since the Revolution, all these places have been demolished, and a mosque has been built on the site of the Bab's house.

Buddhism[edit]

The Mahabodhi Temple towering above its surroundings like a skyscraper carved of stone
The Mahabodhi Temple is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site.

The Buddha is said to have identified four sites most worthy of pilgrimage for Buddhists, saying that they would produce a feeling of spiritual urgency. These are:[2]

  • Bodh Gaya, India, is the most important religious site and place of pilgrimage, the Mahabodhi Temple houses what is believed to be the Bodhi Tree where the Buddha realized enlightenment and Buddhahood.
  • Kushinagar, India, is where the Buddha attained Parinirvana after his death.
  • Lumbini, Nepal, is where Queen Maya gave birth to Prince Siddhartha Gautama.
  • Sarnath, India, is the deer park where the Buddha first taught the Dhamma after realizing enlightenment.

In the later commentarial tradition, four more sites were added to make Eight Great Places, places where a miraculous event is reported to have occurred:

  • Sravasti: Place of the Twin Miracle, showing his supernatural abilities in performance of miracles. Sravasti is also the place where Buddha spent the largest amount of time, being a major city in ancient India.
  • Rajgir: Place of the subduing of Nalagiri, the angry elephant, through friendliness. Rajgir was another major city of ancient India.
  • Sankassa: Place of the descending to earth from Tusita heaven (after a stay of 3 months teaching his mother the Abhidhamma).
  • Vaishali: Place of receiving an offering of honey from a monkey. Vaishali was the capital of the Vajjian Republic of ancient India.

There are various other locations in India and Nepal associated with the Buddha, and there are holy sites located throughout Asia for each Buddhist tradition, for instance in Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Thailand. Lhasa in Tibet contains many culturally significant Tibetan Buddhist sites such as the Potala Palace, Jokhang temple and Norbulingka palaces.

Christianity[edit]

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Christianity.
Al-Maghtas ruins on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River are the location for the baptism of Jesus and the ministry of John the Baptist.

In Christianity, the holy places are significant because they are the place of birth, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the Saviour or Messiah to Christianity. Holy cities for Christians of all denominations[citation needed]

During the Crusades, Christian pilgrims often sought out the holy places in the Outremer, especially early in the 12th century immediately after Jerusalem was captured.[3] The holy places included sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem as well as:[citation needed]

Latter-Day Saints (Mormons)[edit]

Confucianism[edit]

Holy places of Confucianism include Temple of Confucius, Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu, Shandong Province of China.

Druidism[edit]

Stonehenge is a site of religious significance in Neo-Druidism. Druids perform pilgrimage there, The first modern Druids to make ceremonies at this site is the Ancient Order of Druids.

Hinduism[edit]

The Seven sacred ancient Holy towns are Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Varanasi, Kanchipuram, Dvārakā, and Ujjain.

The Holy Dhamas (Char Dham to Smartas)

The Four Maha Kumbha Mela sites

Buildings on the bank of the River Ganges in Varanasi
Situated on the banks of river Ganges, Varanasi attracts millions of Hindu pilgrims every year.

Vaishnavas

Kailash Parvata in Tibet is revered as the Holy abode of Lord Shiva.

Shaivites

Kaumaram (Arupadaiveedu (Six sacred abodes of Murugan; Tamil

Shaktas (Shakti piths)

Tirth Kshetra

Islam[edit]

Kaaba in Mecca at night

The three holiest sites in Islam are the Masjid al-Haram, or Grand Mosque, (in Mecca) ; the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, or Prophet's Mosque, (in Medina) and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Every year millions of Muslims from all over the world visit Masjid al-Haram and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi to perform Hajj.

Muslims are also required, if able, to undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) (/hæ/;[4] Arabic: حَجّḤaǧǧ "pilgrimage") at least once in one's life:[5] it is strongly recommended to do it as often as possible, preferably once a year. Only individuals whose financial position and health are severely insufficient are exempt from making Hajj (e.g. if making Hajj would put stress on one's financial situation, but would not end up in homelessness or starvation, it is still required). During this pilgrimage, the Muslims spend three to seven days in worship, performing several strictly-defined rituals, most notably circumnavigating the Qaaba among millions of other Muslims and the "stoning of the devil" at Mina. At the end of the Hajj, the heads of men are shaved, sheep and other halal animals, notably camels, are slaughtered as a ritual sacrifice by bleeding out at the neck according to a strictly-prescribed ritual slaughter method similar to the Jewish kashrut, to commemorate the moment when, according to Islamic tradition, Allah replaced Abraham's son Ishmael (contrasted with the Judaeo-Christian tradition that Isaac was the intended sacrifice) with a sheep, thereby preventing human sacrifice. The meat from these animals is then distributed locally to needy Muslims, neighbors and relatives.[citation needed]

The next two holiest sites especially for Shia Islam are the Imam Ali Mosque and the Imam Husayn shrine (which is visited by more pilgrims than any other holy site in any religion. More than 18 millions people visited on the day of Ashura in 2018)

Judaism[edit]

Jews praying at the Western Wall in the evening
The Western Wall by night.

In Jewish tradition, the Temple Mount is regarded as the place where God chose the Divine Presence to rest. Jewish tradition regards the Mount, or the Foundation Stone, as the location of a number of important events mentioned in the Bible, including the location from which the world expanded into its present form, Abraham's binding of Isaac, Jacob's dream,[6] the threshing floor which King David purchased from Araunah the Jebusite,[7] and the location of the two Jewish Temples. Jewish texts record that the Mount will be the site of the Third Temple, which will be rebuilt with the coming of the messiah.

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place to which Jews turn during prayer. Due to its extreme sanctity, many Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally entering the area where the Holy of Holies stood. The Temple is mentioned extensively in Orthodox services. Conservative Judaism mentions the Temple and its restoration, but not its sacrifices. The destruction of the Temple is mourned on the Jewish fast day of Tisha B'Av, and is remembered on a number of occasions such as in the breaking of a glass at the end of a wedding ceremony. Due to religious restrictions on entering the most sacred areas of the Temple Mount (see following section), the Western Wall, a retaining wall of the Temple Mount and remnant of the Second Temple structure, is considered by some rabbinical authorities the holiest accessible site for Jews to pray.

Jerusalem itself is also the holiest city in Judaism, and the spiritual center of the Jewish people since the 10th century BCE.[8][not in citation given] The Four Holy Cities in Jewish tradition are the cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed: The Jewish Encyclopedia in 1906 noted: "Since the sixteenth century the Holiness of Palestine, especially for burial, has been almost wholly transferred to four cities—Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed."[9]

Sikhism[edit]

The Panj Takht are the five gurudwaras which are revered as the seats of power in Sikhism. They are all located in India - the Akal Takht Sahib in Amritsar, Punjab; the Keshgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib, Punjab; the Damdama Sahib in Bhatinda, Punjab; the Takht Sri Patna Sahib in Patna, Bihar and the Hazur Sahib Nanded in Nanded, Maharashtra.

Sri Harmandir Sahib, also known as Sri Darbar Sahib or Golden Temple, (on account of its scenic beauty and golden coating for English speaking world), is named after Hari (God) the temple of God. The Sikhs all over the world, daily wish to pay visit to Sri Amritsar and to pay obeisance at Sri Harmandir Sahib in their Ardas.

Guru Arjan's father Guru Ram Das founded the town named after him "Ramdaspur", around a large man-made water pool called "Ramdas Sarovar". Guru Arjan continued the infrastructure building effort of his father. The town expanded during the time of Guru Arjan, financed by donations and constructed by voluntary work. The pool area grew into a temple complex with the gurdwara Harmandir Sahib near the pool. Guru Arjan installed the scripture of Sikhism inside the new temple in 1604.[10] The city that emerged is now known as Amritsar, and is the holiest pilgrimage site in Sikhism.[10][11]

Taoism[edit]

Four sacred mountains of Taoism:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Holy Places of the World". adherents.com. 
  2. ^ The Buddha mentions these four pilgrimage sites in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. See, for instance, Thanissaro (1998)[1] and Vajira & Story (1998)[2].
  3. ^ Sean Martin, The Knights Templar: The History & Myths of the Legendary Military Order, 2005. ISBN 1-56025-645-1
  4. ^ "Hajj". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  5. ^ Juan Eduardo Campo (2009). Encyclopedia of Islam. Infobase Publishing. p. 281. ISBN 978-1-4381-2696-8. 
  6. ^ Toledot 25:21
  7. ^ 2 Samuel 24:18–25
  8. ^ Why Do Jews Love Jerusalem? by Yeruchem Eilfort. Chabad.org/ Ideas & Beliefs/Questions & Answers/Mitzvot & Jewish Customs
  9. ^ Palestine, Holiness Of by Joseph Jacobs, Judah David Eisenstein. Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906 ed.
  10. ^ a b Christopher Shackle; Arvind Mandair (2013). Teachings of the Sikh Gurus: Selections from the Sikh Scriptures. Routledge. pp. xv–xvi. ISBN 978-1-136-45101-0. 
  11. ^ W.H. McLeod (1990). Textual Sources for the Study of Sikhism. University of Chicago Press. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-0-226-56085-4. 

External links[edit]