Temple vs Shrine
Temple and Shrine are both sacred places, but there is some difference between them in connotation. They both hold religious or cultural value, but they do not refer to the same place and, therefore, cannot be interchanged. Shrines, more than religious, have cultural values as they are more related to an individual who is considered important or holy by people. On the other hand, temples are purely religious places that are there for people to perform rituals that belong to their different religions.
What is a Shrine?
In Christianity, a shrine often refers to a church or an altar sacred to a saint or a holy person. In other religions or cultures too, a shrine is a holy place connected with the life and beliefs of a holy man or a saint. For example, Shirdi in India is considered to be the shrine of Shirdi Sai Baba because it was deeply associated with his life and beliefs. After his passing away the place became famous as a shrine of a holy man.
The word shrine often is called as a ‘tomb’ too. The tomb of Humayun and the tomb of Akbar are two examples of shrines in India. Thus, a shrine may also refer to the place where a holy person or a monarch was buried. The word has attained importance and significance in the historical point of view.
It is interesting to note that a casket containing relics is also sometimes referred to by the word ‘shrine’. Thus, the word shrine has several meanings attached to it.
What is a Temple?
On the other hand, the word temple refers to a sacred place for the believers of any given form of religion. It is a place which the believers of a particular religion accept as the abode of God. They often visit temples with a view to have the sight of God. Each religion has got its own temple. Even for Buddhists, there are temples. They go to buddhist temple, not to worship Gods, but rather to do aamisa pooja that helps them in their path to nibbana. These temples differ from each other in terms of the method of construction, materials used in construction, appearance, and the legend behind their construction and the like.
What is the difference between Temple and Shrine?
• A shrine is a dedicated place for an important or a holy person of a society. Most of the time, to a saint. On the other hand, a temple is the place dedicated to a religion. Temple is where people go to do the rituals of their religion.
• Shrine is a sacred place. It is a place that has gained the status of being sacred by being associated with a holy or important person. Temple is also a sacred place as it is associated with a religion.
• Sometimes tombs of important people are considered shrines. Tombs are not considered as temples.
• Caskets that contain relics are also sometimes known as shrines. However, caskets that contain relics are not known as temples.
• Both shrines and temples do not have one particular type of construction plan. However, when it comes to temples, you will see that each religion builds their temples in their own fashion. That is the same model followed everywhere in the world for that particular religion. For example, churches are built in the same manner everywhere in the world. The same with other religions too. For example, Islamic mosques and Hindu temples also have their unique style.
These are the important differences between the words temple and shrine.
- Shrine to Tin Hau at Repulse Bay, Southern District, Hong Kong by FlyingToaster (CC BY 3.0)
- Beautiful Golden Temple in Amritsar India by Abhidny (CC BY-SA 3.0)