[This article was written for the Manukau Courier and published 20 April 2017 – link]
Welcome to our new series called Pilgrimages and Bucket Lists: The Journeys of South Aucklanders by our columnist Peter Mihaere. He will be sharing some of his pilgrimages but he’s also keen to share yours too – so don’t hesitate to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org
With the huge diversity of my neighbourhood, of race, culture and religious expression, the idea of pilgrimage is something some of us have either experienced or hope to do one day. However, for many of us it may be something completely new or irrelevant. Over the summer holidays I went on four personal pilgrimages, and it got me thinking if this might be something worth talking about through this column during the year, and get some dialogue started in South Auckland.
My Collins dictionary defines pilgrimage as 1. A journey to a shrine or other sacred place. 2. A journey or long search made for exalted or sentimental reasons.
I know that for many of us, religious faith pilgrimages are very important. For a Muslim the Hajj to Mecca is a once in a lifetime pilgrimage. For a Christian, pilgrimages to biblical sites like Bethlehem, or Jerusalem, or the Vatican are important. For Hindu’s there are many holy pilgrimages to consider. A pilgrimage to the Golden temple in Amritsar, Punjab, is important to many Sikh Indians, as is the journey to many Buddhist Wat’s (temples) in South East Asia.
Of course, pilgrimages don’t have to be isolated to just religious journeys. A pilgrimage to your ancestral lands or places can invoke this same idea of important hikoi or journey. For me, going back to my ancestral Marae, Te Rauhina, in Wairoa is an important pilgrimage because many of my Tipuna (ancestors) are buried there and my whakapapa (family tree) points to that as a starting place for my whanau.
A modern version of the concept of pilgrimage might be the popularised idea of the Bucket List. Perhaps pilgrimage invokes a more serious idea, where as a bucket list might include fun and adventure. Both however engender the idea of purposeful journey, of experience, to some place, or person, memory, or idea, perhaps traditional and old, or new and adventurous. For example, one item on my bucket list is to go to a Formula 1 race in Melbourne, and a pilgrimage I hope to do one day is walk the Camino de Santiago across the top of Spain. Both of these add to the experience that hopefully makes my life rich and memorable.
So during this year I will be sharing some of the pilgrimages I’ve been on, and I hope to hear from some of my fellow South Aucklander’s and your journeys. If you have an interesting story you’d like to share please email me on email@example.com. I can’t promise every story will make it to print, but as I select some I will try and be as diverse as our community.
Nga mihi, Peter.