Travel And Religion: #CultureTravChat

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” – Dalai Lama.

Travel and Religion: #CultureTravChatPolitics, religion and money are often seen as topics better left untouched. People veer away from them out of fear of offending someone, or simply not wanting to deal with the consequences of opening up the discussion at all. But, why do we shy away from these subjects? Is it because of some fear or uncertainty that dictates what and how something is said?

When I traveled to Egypt as a young girl, I experienced something I will never forget. On this particularly hot day, we were exploring Cairo and overheard sounds of prayer. As we followed the sounds, we approached a mosque with the intention to only to peer inside and not disturb anyone in deep prayer. What happened next was the kindest, most inviting gesture that pulled us into the mosque. Women approached us (mom and I entered in one area, and dad in another) with fresh mint leaves as we took off our shoes and walked deeper into the mosque. We didn’t stay very long out of respect for the ongoing prayers, but felt like these women had welcomed us into their world, without any judgment of complete strangers, and only with the warmest of gestures and best intentions.
It saddens me whenever people make any assumptions, or stereotype a people or a country. It’s worse when people make a judgment on the basis of an entire religion, without acknowledging that people who perpetrate awful acts in the “name of religion,” (the ones you hear about on the news) only comprise a portion of worshipers. They only represent a fraction of those who mean well and those who simply believe in a higher being.
This week on #CultureTravChat I thought we’d discuss Religion & Travel. When you’re traveling, you’re exposed to different cultures, values and norms – and religion can play a big role in that. The very subject that people often avoid is the one that drives millions of people to believe in an Almighty being – whether that’s God, or Allah, multiple gods, or no God at all. And, I’ve found that it’s only when you don’t ask questions or don’t express curiosity about someone else’s religion, that you miss out on interesting lessons from others.
Q1. Are you religious or spiritual?
Q2. What was the most interesting religious/spiritual travel experience you’ve had?
Extra: Share a picture of a beautiful house of worship/temple you encountered?
Q3. What advice would you share about embracing different religions (from your own) during travel?
Q4. Why do you think some people avoid religious conversations? Should or shouldn’t they?
Q5. Ever dealt with religious tension during travel? how did you handle it?
Q6. Share an interesting lesson learned from a religious person you met during travel?
BONUS: What do you wish people would understand better about religion? (i.e. Being open minded?)

1. Follow @nicolette_o on Twitter for chat announcements/questions.
2. Use the #CultureTravChat hashtag in every tweet – this way others can always see your tips!
3. Invite friends to join, and RT anything you personally find interesting.

Let us know what you think