faith

religious rites and rituals

Cairo, Egypt. Baptism.
Karbala, Iraq.  A Shi'a pilgrim, bloody after cutting himself with a knife during the Ashura observances in Karbala, prays outside the Shrine of Imam Hussein. The rituals involving self-inflicted pain are a prominent feature of Ashura as pilgrims wish to emulate the pain felt by the martyred Imam Hussein, who was killed in battle in Karbala in 680AD.
Karbala, Iraq.  Shi'a pilgrims, bloody after cutting themselves with knives during the Ashura observances in Karbala, grieve outside the Shrine of Imam Hussein. Ashura is the holiest day on the Shi'ite calendar and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from Iraq, Iran and other countries gathered in Karbala to participate in the Ashura rituals that were banned under the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Baghdad, Iraq.  Shia men sing praises to Imam Hussein and beat their chests in mourning for the martyred Imam at a memorial tent near the Kadhim Shrine in Kadhimiya during the second day of Ashura. 
Karbala, Iraq.  Shia men flagellate themselves during a procession to the Hussein Shrine in Karbala on the ninth day of Ashura. The ritual is an important symbol of the Ashura commemorations as pilgrims want to emulate the suffering of the martyred Imam Hussein.  
Baghdad, Iraq.  Shia women beat their faces and chests in mourning while a 'mullaya' sings praises to the martyred Imam Hussein on the seventh day of Ashura. Shia Muslims in Iraq are openly participating in Ashura festivities -- banned during the time of Saddam Hussein-- for the first time in years.  While many Shia mark the days with trips to the major shrines in Iraq, others commemorate the time with private ceremonies in the home. 
 
Baghdad, Iraq.  A Sabian religious leader baptises a member of a wedding ceremony at the sect's worship center in Baghdad. The Sobba religion is thought to be one of the oldest monotheistic faith's in the world.
Baghdad, Iraq. A bride is shrouded during her wedding ceremony at a Sabian temple.
Dharamsala, India. A Tibetan Buddhist nun reads from religious texts in her room. 
Damascus, Syria.  A woman at the Ummayed Mosque. Built in 705 on the site of a Christian cathedral, the mosque is a jewel of Islamic architecture and remains a popular pilgrimage destination.
Cairo, Egypt.  Egyptians mark the Prophet Mohammed's birthday with a processional of different Islamic sects near al-Azhar mosque and al-Hussein mosque.
Shashemane, Ethiopia.  Shashemene, about 155 miles south of the capital of Addis Ababa, is the Rastafarian capital of Ethiopia, where Jamaicans and other Africans began to repatriate after Emperor Haile Selassie I granted 500 acres of land in 1948. The land grant has since been reduced in size, but hundreds of Rastafarian families live in the community amidst Ethiopian Christian Orthodox neighbors.        
Shashemane, Ethiopia.  A Rastafarian chants and plays the Nyahbinghi drums at the house of the Nyahbinghi Tabernacle in Shashemene. The Nyahbinghi order is a strict fundamentalist branch of Rastafarianism, members refrain from use of alcohol and tobacco, do not eat meat, are required to wear their hair in dreadlocks, and live according to a strict code of ethics.
Cairo, Egypt. A woman prays during the dawn prayers on the morning of the first day of Eid al-Adha. 
Cairo, Egypt.  Tens of thousands gather outside Mustafa Mahmoud Mosque for the dawn prayers to mark the beginning of the Eid al-Adha, a major Muslim holiday commemorating the obedience of the Prophet Ibrahim when called on to sacrifice his son Ismail.
Cairo, Egypt. A sheeps head lies on the pavement on the morning of Eid al-Adha, after a ritual slaughter. 
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