The anthropologist Victor Turner has proposed a new theory of religious pilgrimage, holding that people on pilgrimage have entered into a social modality that contrasts sharply with the one they ordinarily experience at home; roles, ranks, and social hierarchy have all been left behind, and what Turner calls communitas has come into being en route. Studies in Japanese by Eiki Hoshino confirm the cross-cultural applicability of Turner's theory, and show that it most adequately explains an ancient and famous pilgrimage tradition in Japan, that to the eighty-eight sites on Shikoku. It especially helps us account for the unusual tensions between pilgrims and government during the Tokugawa era. These materials and analyses are used, then, to suggest that in his study of the Kataragama pilgrimage, Bryan Pfaffenberger has misinterpreted Turner's theory and has overlooked ways in which it does, in fact, explain the materials from Sri Lanka.

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