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6 Tips for Respecting Local Culture on Your Spiritual Pilgrimage

Planning a spiritual pilgrimage? Use these tips on local culture and customs to avoid disturbing others' peace.

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Planning a spiritual pilgrimage? Use these tips on local culture and customs to avoid disturbing others’ peace.

When you make a spiritual journey, remember that the places you visit are usually sacred to local people; be unobtrusive and respectful. Locals sometimes complain that visitors interfere with their worship, exploit their spiritual practices, or act inappropriately. Here are tips for having a spiritual experience without disturbing others’ peace:

1. Be open-minded.

Go with an open-minded, noncondescending spirit, reminds Nicholas Shrady, author of Sacred Roads. An attitude of respect is the best guide for right action.

2. Do your research.

Research a place before you go so you’ll know how to act in accordance with the local beliefs, says Kimla McDonald of the Cultural Conservancy.

See alsoWhy Make a Yoga Pilgrimage to India?

3. Read the literature.

Delve into the sacred literature so you understand what the rituals signify.

4. Respect where you are.

Treat every place like a sanctuary—, including outdoor and archaeological locations. Sit quietly, speak softly, act responsibly, don’t draw attention to yourself.

See alsoYoga Journal’s Pilgrimage to India

5. Bring an offering.

Ask a local: How do I show my gratitude for being here? What’s the appropriate way to present an offering?

6. Don’t intrude.

Be aware of the times when you shouldn’t visit a place out of deference to others, says McDonald. At special times of the year, local people make their own pilgrimages.

See alsoCross-Cultural Travel As Pilgrimage