There are countless holy sites all over the world. From historic temples to pilgrimage trails. Many of these crops up on traveller’s bucket lists and even the most casual of holidaymaker can be tempted to visit a site of religious significance during their holiday. It’s easy to see why.
Even if you aren’t remotely religious, visiting somewhere that holds such importance for so many can be enlightening. It can make you feel very small, put your own life into fresh perspective and take your breath away. These locations are often nothing short of wondrous, filled with religious art and symbolism; there’s much to see. These trips also often fall into the “once in a lifetime” category and shouldn’t be missed if you do get the chance.
But, it can be tricky. If you don’t follow a specific religion yourself, it can be hard to know what to expect or, what is expected of you. But, it’s crucial that you are always respectful of the customs and cultures of the location. Here’s how to do it.
Time it Right
Some sites will play home to pilgrimages or be much busier around religious holidays. So, it’s important to remember that while you are just a sightseer, other people are there to pay homage to their Gods and religious idols. Read guides like When is the Best Time for Umrah? To make sure you avoid visiting during these times of the year unless you want to be a part of it.
Do You Research
The best way to respect other cultures and beliefs is always by learning more about them. We’re very lucky that we can just turn on a laptop and Google the religion in question. Learn a bit about their beliefs and culture, as well as the site you are visiting. This way you are less likely to do anything that might offend. You’ll also appreciate your trip more having a little background knowledge.
Stick to the Dress Code
Many religious locations and even churches and other places of worship around the world have a dress code. Make sure you know what it is and that you are prepared. At some sites, you may need to remove your shoes, and women may have to cover their legs and head. Don’t turn up in shorts and be sent away.
Leave Your Politics at Home
You may firmly believe in gender equality and be firmly against asking women to cover up. But, when it comes to visiting the home of another religion and culture, it’s not your beliefs that matter.
Be Careful with Photography
Now we’re all armed with a smartphone; it’s habit to take photos of everything all the time. They’re often on social media before we even get home. This might not be allowed in holy buildings, as many feel that constant clicking and flashing detracts from the Holy atmosphere. Check the rules before you arrive and ask if you are unsure. Some places may allow photographs, but charge extra for it.
Have you ever been to a place of worship?