Purushottam Giri Sangeet Acharya, 60, a Hindu holy man known as a sadhu, reads near the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal. He says that after the government announced a lockdown and religious sites closed due to COVID-19, many sadhus chose to leave Pashupatinath, where they lived.
María Luna participates in a Mayan ceremony in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico. The ceremony honors the fifth anniversary of the declaration of the Maria Eugenia Mountain Wetlands as a sacred place. Locals and members of environmental groups gathered to honor life, Mother Earth and nature. The city of San Cristóbal de las Casas lies in a mountain wetland area, but the city’s growth and demand for housing have increasingly destroyed this natural environment.
Gantushig Uranchimeg, an 11-year-old monk-in-training, participates in a ceremony to worship ritual vases at Khutagt Lama Gandanshadivlan Monastery in Mongolia’s Orkhon province. The ceremony, known as bumba, is meant to bring blessings and wealth to worshippers.
Priest Santosh Buddhacharya performs puja, a worship ritual, at Swayambhunath stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. Crowds of Hindu and Buddhist devotees and tourists used to worship at the stupa. But with travel restricted due to the coronavirus, the priests are now the only worshippers.
Janaga Baatar, 13, lights a candle at Gandanchoimzadlin Monastery, a temple in the Baruun Saikhan Mountains in southern Mongolia. Janaga says he has come to the monastery daily for three years to chant Buddhist teachings during his breaks from school.
Allan Christian Covarrubias, a parish priest at Natividad de la Virgen María, a church in Tecámac, Mexico, gives Sunday Mass via livestream. Religious events have been canceled in Mexico since March 30, along with other public gatherings, due to the coronavirus. Religious events were allowed to resume on May 31, but due to limitations on the number of people able to gather, the online services have continued at Natividad de la Virgen María.
Guillermo Hernández Pinto, a parish priest in San Cristóbal de las Casas, blesses a palm frond held by Marco Antonio Martínez on Palm Sunday. Ordinarily, the Chiapas city would hold a traditional Mass and procession of worshippers through the streets for the religious holiday, but the tradition was changed this year due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of marching, the parish priest rode to different neighborhoods in a pickup truck, blessing water, pictures and palm fronds along the way.
People celebrating at a festival in honor of patron saint Lorenzo Mártir carry firework bulls on their shoulders in Zinacantán, Mexico. The bulls are made of straw and covered with paper and other materials with fireworks stuffed inside. They are lit after being blessed in church, to the excitement of all the spectators who gather to watch.
Worshippers celebrate the Theertha festival at Savalappidy Kanthaswamy Murugan Temple in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. The ritual occurring in the temple pond is performed for Hindu deity Murugan by the temple’s priests, in order to bring protection for the people and their village.
Alejandro Piña plays the main organ during a mass in the Chapel of the Assumption in Mexico City. Piña learned to play music for mass when he was 15 years old, and has been doing it for more than 50 years.
The Parish of San Juan Bautista, a Catholic temple located in Coyoacán, a municipality south of Mexico City, provides a silent and peaceful sanctuary in the midst of this loud and busy neighborhood. Constructed in the 16th century and designed in the Baroque style, it is open every day to both locals wishing to pray and to tourists.
Constance Mharapara (front) and Asumta Mudanga (left) sing at Sunday mass at the Lady of the Wayside Parish in Harare, Zimbabwe. The voices of the choir, combined with drums beats and rattles, fill the church with a melodious vibe. Sunday worship here is led by a different choir each week.
Thirunavukarasu Ambalavanar, 75, examines the palms of two women who came to him for predictions about their futures at the Selva Sannithi Murugan temple, a Hindu temple in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. Ambalavanar, an astrologer, has been offering this service for 29 years.
Khanqah-e-Molla, also called the shrine of Shah-e-Hamdan, is one of the oldest shrines in Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir. It was constructed on the banks of the Jhelum River around 1400 AD by Sultan Sikander of the Shah Mir dynasty in honor of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, the Sufi saint who popularized Islam in Kashmir.
Amir Buddhacharya, a Buddhist priest, hands devotees blessed flowers while they pray to Buddha during a Buddha Jayanti celebration in Kathmandu, Nepal. Buddhists consider Buddha Jayanti an auspicious day, since it marks the birth of Buddha. To celebrate, devotees often visit shrines, make offerings of flowers and money and light butter lamps.
Guman Singh makes bamboo frames with jute ropes on the reconstruction site of Kasthamandap Temple in Kathmandu Durbar Square, Nepal. Kasthamandap Temple was made of wood and was completely destroyed by the April 2015 earthquake. Reconstruction work began in May 2018.
Antonio Álvarez, 16, portrays Jesus of Nazareth in a play performed by the group Víacrucis Santiago Iztacalco at Kiosco San Matías in Mexico City’s Iztacalco district. For the past 10 years, the group has put on almost 40 performances during Holy Week in public plazas all over the district. “It takes a lot of sacrifice, but it’s very nice,” Álvarez says of his role. “I wanted the role but didn’t think they’d give it to me. I was very scared. I even cried when I got it.”
Michael Mvunga (left) plays the role of Jesus during the stage where Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem in “The Way of the Cross,” a Catholic devotion performed on Good Friday at St. Ignatius Parish in Lusaka, Zambia. “The Way of the Cross” demonstrates Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth. Individuals move from station to station to recite specific prayers and meditate on Christ's last day.
Antonio González López and other residents of San Cristóbal de las Casas, a city in Chiapas, Mexico, hold a celebration dedicated to protecting the wetlands. González, a traditional Mayan healer, asked both forces of nature and figures venerated by Catholics, including the Virgin Mary, to care for local wetlands and the city’s water supply.
At the Arasady Pillayar Temple in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Hindus worship by carrying “kavadi,” a type of physical burden that is often a decorated wood item. Starting at the temple, the procession danced through the village of Kondavil. The kavadi may also be a body piercing.