Christians go ahead with pilgrimage despite West Asian crisis

August 05, 2014 11:21 pm | Updated May 15, 2017 09:15 pm IST - HYDERABAD:

A Christian worshipper lights candles at the Golgotha, the spot where according to Christian belief Jesus was crucified, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City.

A Christian worshipper lights candles at the Golgotha, the spot where according to Christian belief Jesus was crucified, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City.

The ongoing tension in Palestine and Israel notwithstanding, Christian pilgrims from the city are continuing with their pilgrimage plans to the conflict scarred regions.

Jerusalem in Israel and Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus Christ, in Palestine have historically been holy cities for Christians.

Every year, several rounds of tours are conducted from the city.

Despite the current raging violence in West Asia, local tour operators say they are going about their plans as usual.

“Our last tour ended two weeks ago and we are planning the next tour in the first week of September,” said Glory, Organiser at Aradana Holy Land Tours.

“In the next trip, we will be taking 48 pilgrims and many have already confirmed their seats. We are also getting many enquiries from those who want to take up the pilgrimage. The region has witnessed violence in the past too, but there was never any problem to the pilgrims. We are also taking regular updates from the local operators on the present situation,” is the explanation.

Most of these tours span over a period of about 10 days. The pilgrims are usually flown to Jordan and from there they travel by road to visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem before boarding the flight from Egypt. Enquiries have also revealed that as of now, none of the tour operators received any advisory or directives from the Indian or the Israeli governments. “High level security is in place for the tourists in these regions,” claimed Albert, Director, Tours and Travels, Subhavartha TV, who has lined up tours to the holy places in West Asia for the next three months. “Tourists are very important for the local government and they will never let anything happen to them. I have gone there many times and I can promise that tourists are always safe there,” he averred.

A pilgrim who recently visited the conflict region as part of a religious trip said that even though they had been reading about the deaths due to violence, tension was not palpable there.

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