Balinese Hindus and tourists perform Melukat, a holy water ritual, in the holy springs of Tirta Empul, a temple and national cultural heritage site in the village of Manukaya on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Performing Melukat symbolizes eliminating negative energies and influences that may affect a person’s mental and physical state.
Men from South India perform a form of worship called puja at Muktinath, a holy pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists in Mustang, Nepal. Devotees come to Muktinath to do different types of pujas, and these three are performing sharada, in which they chant prayers and offer water and food to their deceased family members.
A sadhu, a Hindu who has renounced the worldly life, sits outside the Muktinath Temple, waiting to receive alms from the pilgrims who came to visit the holy site in Mustang, Nepal. Sadhus spend their time traveling to different Hindu temples and holy sites, and Muktinath is one of the oldest Hindu temples.
On the outskirts of Lo Manthang, a village in Upper Mustang, Yanzen Gurung hangs a khada, a ceremonial scarf, as an offering to the gods that protect her maternal homeland. She was about to return to Kathmandu, where she lives with her husband. People in the Upper Mustang region believe the gods protect the lands and the hills, and they offer prayers and khadas to them and hang Buddhist prayer flags.
A wood and steel cross is lowered to the hands of dozens of men who will carry it about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) down the Xochitepec hill to their village of Santa Cruz Xochitepec in southern Mexico City, during a festival in honor of La Santa Cruz, or the Holy Cross. At the end of the festival, a new cross will be carried back to the top of the hill, after it is adorned with long strips of cloth called “cendales,” which represent requests or gratitude for blessings from La Santa Cruz.
Rajdev Yadav, 29, lays incense sticks out to dry in the sun while working at the Bodhisattvas in Action (BIA) Incense Institute in Kathmandu, Nepal. The BIA Foundation comprises eight different institutions run by people with disabilities. Yadav, who is missing a leg, has been working for the BIA Incense Institute for two years. The incense sticks are used in Hindu and Buddhist worship.
A firefighter monitors a blazing effigy during the Burning of Judas, an Easter ritual celebrated on April 15 at the Plaza de la Catedral de San Cristóbal Mártir in Chiapas, Mexico. The ritual began as the symbolic burning of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, but now the ritual includes effigies of devils and political figures. Seven effigies were burned; five featured Donald Trump figures, and all seven contained references to Mexico’s relationship with the U.S.
Christians walk the Way of the Cross on Good Friday, April 14, in San Juan Tlihuaca, a neighborhood north of downtown Mexico City. This tradition recalls Jesus’ journey to the Crucifixion. The encapuchados, or the hooded, who wear long robes and tall, pointed hoods, or capuchas, represent the people who pointed out Jesus to the Romans but didn’t show their faces, says Gilberto González, coordinator of the encapuchados group.
Rodrigo Callejas, 28, in the guise of a Franciscan friar, conducts a tour of the tombs of some luminaries of 19th-century Mexico at the Museo Panteón de San Fernando in Mexico City. Callejas has been using this friar character for four years to entertain visitors with fun stories while also teaching history.
Priests and devotees worship and pray at the Pashupatinath Temple, one of Hinduism’s holiest sites, in Kathmandu, Nepal. Worship takes place at 6 p.m. every day, and includes singing, playing classical instruments, chanting Vedic mantras, ringing bells, burning incense and lighting oil lamps.
People crowd around to get “thui,” the Tibetan word for blessed water, during the 15-day celebration of the Tibetan New Year, called the Gyalpo Losar, at the Boudhanath, a stupa, or shrine, in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. The new year began on Feb. 27.
Buddhist priest Dipendra Bajracharya conducts an annual puja, or religious ceremony, in December, in front of the Buddhist stupa at the Lakhatirtha area in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. This puja is commemorating the stupa, a Sanskrit term for a shrine, which are seen as Buddhist symbols of enlightenment.
Prayer flags are on display at Pharping, a Buddhist pilgrimage site located just south of Kathmandu, Nepals’ capital city. The man shown is among the people who earn money by hanging prayer flags for pilgrims. There is no fixed price, but the flag hangers work to earn all they can.
Two evangelical pastors, both on left, baptize a young girl in Lake Atitlán in Panajachel, a city in southwestern Guatemala, in late December. A group of young boys stand nearby in the water, awaiting their turn. The group traveled from Patzún, a nearby municipality, to perform the baptisms. Lake Atitlán is renowned in the region for its size, beauty and surrounding volcanoes.
Women prepare a puja, an act of worship, to the setting sun during Chhath, a four-day Hindu festival celebrated in parts of Nepal and India. The women are in the Ranipokhari area of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city, the location of a temple to Shiva, a Hindu god.
Families gather on Nov. 2 at the cemetery in Aldea Chaquijyá hamlet in Sololá, a municipality in southwestern Guatemala, for Día de los Difuntos, which is part of the two-day Día de los Muertos celebration, known in English as Day of the Dead. For Día de los Muertos, a religious holiday in Latin America, families often visit the burial sites of loved ones to offer food and gifts, pray and perform rituals. Many also share a meal by the tombstones. Día de los Difuntos is reserved for praying for the recently deceased who may still find themselves in purgatory.
Two girls sit in a Catholic church in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Beni territory. They attended a mass dedicated to the victims of an August 13 massacre that reportedly killed more than 50 people. Government officials blamed the massacre on the ADF-NALU, a Ugandan armed group.
A masked dancer performs a Bhadrakali dance in Kathmandu on June 25 during a festival to Bhadrakali, a Hindu goddess. The festival, held every 12 years, is mainly celebrated among Nepal’s Newar people and is intended to bring prosperity and peace to the country.
Children and young people pull a large, multi-tiered chariot that carries a statue of the Hindu god Bhairav in Nepal’s Bhaktapur municipality. The event is part of Bisket Jatra, an annual, nine-day street parade that is held to celebrate the Nepali New Year, which falls each year in mid-April. This year, New Year’s Day was April 13.
The carnival of Huixtán is celebrated each Sunday in February in the Huixtán municipality in Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state. The carnival combines Catholic and indigenous beliefs to kick off Lent and appeal for rain and plentiful harvests. Here, a group acts out scenes found in the Bonampak murals, an ancient Mayan archaeological site in the state. The murals document the civilization’s religious rituals, war practices and politics.