Category / Religion
The Hindu festival of Holi celebrates the beginning of spring. As a festival of colors that marks events in Hindu mythology, it provides photographers with a visual feast. Holi falls on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna, which was on March 27 this year. It is a joyous ritual when intense colors, light, emotion, and energy combine in a surreal vision of spirituality. Enjoy!
This week Hindus around the world celebrated Holi, the Festival of Colors. Holi is a popular springtime celebration observed on the last full moon of the lunar month. Participants traditionally throw bright, vibrant powders at friends and strangers alike as they celebrate the arrival of spring, commemorate Krishna's pranks, and allow each other a momentary freedom -- a chance to drop their inhibitions and simply play and dance. Gathered here are images of this year's Holi festival from across India.
Pope Francis officially became the 266th leader of the Roman Catholic Church's 1.2 billion worldwide followers yesterday during his formal installation Mass in St. Peter's Square. Formally known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 76-year-old Argentinean is the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years and the first from South America. During the Mass, which was attended by an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people, Francis pledged to serve the poorest, the weakest, the least important, striking the same tones of humility that have marked the days since his election.
Pope Benedict XVI appeared at his final weekly general audience today at St. Peter's Square in front of an estimated 150,000 people recalling moments of "joy and light as well as difficulty during his eight years as pontiff. Benedict, 85, said he decided to retire after realizing he didn't have the "strength of mind or body" to carry on. Benedict meets tomorrow with cardinals for a final time before traveling to his retirement residence at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.
Held only once every twelve years, the cleansing ritual of the Maha Kumbh Mela sees up to a hundred million Hindu devotees symbolically bathe away their sins in the holy Ganges River. It is thought to be the largest gathering of humanity on earth. For 55 days devotees wade into the river to bathe, and join other religious observations on the banks of the Triveni Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers. Various sadhu and sadhvi (holy men and women) abound. The Maha Kumbh Mela began this year on January 14, with preparations starting weeks earlier.
MERIDA, Mexico (AP) -- Dec. 21 started out as the prophetic day some had believed would usher in the fiery end of the world. By Friday afternoon, it had become the punch line of countless Facebook posts and at least several dozen T-shirts.
At the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, thousands chanted, danced and otherwise frolicked around ceremonial fires and pyramids to mark the conclusion of a vast, 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar.
The doomsayers who had predicted apocalypse were nowhere to be seen. Instead, people showed up in T-shirts reading "The End of the World: I Was There."
For the masses in the ruins, Dec. 21 sparked celebration of what they saw as the birth of a new and better age. It was also inspiration for massive clouds of patchouli and marijuana smoke and a chorus of conch calls at the break of dawn.
Eid al-Adha also called Feast of the Sacrifice, is an important 3-day religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to honor the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his young first-born son Ismail (Ishmael) a as an act of submission to God and his son's acceptance of the sacrifice, before God intervened to provide Abraham with a ram to sacrifice instead. The 3 days and 2 nights of Eid al-Adha are celebrated annually on the 10th, 11th and 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the twelfth and last month of the lunar Islamic calendar. Eid begins today. -- Paula Nelson ( 32 photos total)
The Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam and one of the largest religious pilgrimages in the world, is currently taking place in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Starting earlier this week, and continuing through Monday, approximately 3.4 million Muslims from around the world are participating in several rituals, including the Tawaf -- the circumambulation of the Kaaba, the enormous cube-shaped building in the center of the Masjid al-Haram mosque. The pilgrims are are also taking part in the Sa'i, traveling back and forth between the mountains of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, and Ramy al-Jamarat, in which they throw pebbles at three walls in the city of Mina to show their defiance of the Devil. The rituals and locations date back to the 7th Century, but much of the surrounding area has grown and changed radically over the years. For comparison, I've included several historical images of Mecca as well, dating back as far as 1889. The rest of the photos depict this year's Hajj and the pilgrims on their sacred journey.
Outrage in the Muslim community, stoked by a crude anti-Islam video mocking the prophet Muhammad, has spread across much of the globe today. Starting earlier this week in Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt, protesters stormed embassies, resulting in multiple deaths, four of them American. Since then, demonstrations have erupted in more than two dozen countries -- ranging from small peaceful gatherings to violent attacks on western targets. Host nations have been struggling to defend western consulates after thousands took to the streets following Friday prayers. Gathered here are scenes of this growing unrest over the past few days.
Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, will come to a close this weekend with the observation of a festival called Eid al-Fitr. Throughout this ninth month on the Islamic calendar, devout Muslims must abstain from food, drink, and sex from dawn until sunset. The fast, one of the five pillars of Islam, is seen as a time for spiritual reflection, prayers, and charity. After sunset, Muslims traditionally break the fast by eating three dates, performing the Maghrib prayer, and sitting down to Iftar, the main evening meal, where communities and families gather together. Gathered here are images of Muslims around the world observing Ramadan this year.