Forms of Pilgrimage at the Shrine of Khāled Nabi, Northeastern Iran
KeywordsForms of pilgrimage
Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
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AbstractPilgrimage (religious tourism) is one of the fastest growing forms of tourism. Nevertheless, there is still a gap between abstract theory and empirical research about this form of tourism in the literature. This dearth of tourism studies is even more glaring in the field of Ziyārat or pilgrimage in Islam which in spite of its importance and wide extended practice have been mostly ignored in tourism and geographic literature. The present study features one such area that is (almost) unknown within the community of tourism and geography researchers. In Iran, religious pilgrimage has a long tradition. Numerous sacred places with varieties of rituals and traditions, which practice among the pilgrims all around the country, indicate on its antiquity (before Islamic periods). Among the most practiced forms of religious pilgrimage are the visits to several thousands of shrines, which are known in Iran as Ziyāratgah (lit. place of visit) or Imāmzādeh. One of these Ziyāratgah is the pre-Islamic shrine of Khāled Nabi (also known as Halat Nabi), which belong to a legendary Christian holy man of the 6th A.D. The shrine lies in the northeastern Iranian province of Golestan, in a region called Turkmen-Sahra. Despite its relative remote setting, every year more than 90,000 travellers do visit this shrine. This article seeks to consider varieties of pilgrimage forms at the shrine. The results of the study shows that the travelers of Khāled Nabi shrine are not homogenous and comprise of different types of visitors. In addition to secular motivations, based on the visitors’ inventives, three zones/forms of pilgrimage, namely, ‘‘religious pilgrims’’, ‘‘cultural pilgrims’’, ‘‘nostalgic pilgrims’’have been recognized.