This paper provides an examination of the popular practices of contemporary Buddhism and the major Buddhist pilgrimage sites, in particular. These pilgrimage sites are old, sacred places of worship where Buddha's relics were enshrined or are famed for miraculous stories of Bodhisattvas or Arhats. Contemporary sacred places are differentiated from traditional ones by the number of people who flock to them. Traditional places were important mostly to local people and to Buddhist monks. Economic growth since the mid-1980s, however, has caused hundreds of thousands of people to visit these places year-round, and, to accommodate these visitors, temples have built modern facilities, including paved roads, lodging, and parking spaces. With the influx of visitors, these sites have accumulated wealth but are also faced with the many challenges that come with dealing with huge numbers of visitors. Some sites simply offer a convenient place for worship and to receive the blessings of Buddhist deities; others have developed diverse programs of lectures and meditation for their visitors. Since 1994, the Chogye-jong central administration has taken control of some of these sites and has used the wealth for the education of the sangha. Some local factions, however, have fought against such administrative control.
Journal of Korean Religions – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Nov 23, 2012