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date: 19 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

The expansion of Buddhist traditions throughout Asia and beyond has not only involved the transmission of doctrine but also the establishment and expansion of a material presence of Buddhist institutions and sacred sites. Through the history of Buddhism, the closely related practices of relic veneration and pilgrimage have been central to the formation and expansion of a sacred geography, the exchange of Buddhist ideas and cultural forms, and to claims of political legitimacy. This chapter provides an overview of these practices—their origins, historical development, and their ongoing significance in contemporary times. Focusing in particular on two domains in which both practices are implicated—power and politics, and tourism and consumption—it shows that far from disappearing with modernity, both relic veneration and pilgrimage continue to be creatively adapted to contemporary social, political and economic circumstances.

Keywords: Buddhism, relic veneration, pilgrimage, politics, relics, sacred site

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