How people pray around the world
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Photographs can sometimes capture spirituality that cannot otherwise be easily explained.
A Higher Power, in one form or another, is an elemental part of life for billions of people around the world. We thank, send wishes to, celebrate or simply reflect on him, her, it, or them in a variety of ways from East to West.
Here are ten ways that people pray using ritual, books, and adornments to connect to something greater than themselves.
Traditional woodblock-printed Buddhist prayer flags. As the wind passes over the sutras written on them, it becomes sanctified, carrying the blessings to the countryside. Though the flags are replaced annually on the Tibetan New Year, their prayers are believed to remain in the wind, becoming a part of the universe. The colors of the flags represent the five elements and the five Buddha families, and their order is traditionally a repetition of blue, white, red, green and yellow. Photo by: Knottyboy
Meditation is one of the most widely-known and adopted practices of Buddhist tradition. Though there is wide variation in its practice between various Buddhist schools, meditation is generally intended to promote mindfulness and awareness in practitioners as a path to insight into oneself. Photo by: Marc oh!
A Japa mala, or simply 'mala' are a set of beads commonly used by Hindus and Buddhists to keep track of repeated prayers. The number of beads on an individual mala are always divisible by nine, with 108 beads being the most common configuration. During prayer, the beads are typically counted clockwise around the mala until the head bead at the top is reached, marking a full set of prayers. Photo by Wonderlane
Hanuman (being worshipped in picture) is an ape-faced deity and a devotee of the hero Rama in Hindu scripture. Devotees worship by lighting lamps and incense, as well as offering foodstuffs before images of deities such as Hanuman. Photo by Claude Renault
Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna, is celebrated across Bangladesh by its Hindu community. They seek the love of god and pray to fulfill wishes with practices that can take a range of forms, from lighting candles to reading texts. Photo by Mashroor Nitol
The salah, or ritual prayer, is required to be performed by all Muslims five times each day. Verses are taken from the Qur'an and are said in Arabic. The salah is intended to be a time of individual focus on God for those praying, given over to thanksgiving and worship. Photo by Quinn Ryan Mattingly
Tefillin, also known as phylacteries, are a set of small, black-painted boxes containing verses from the Torah and worn on the forehead during prayer. A hand-tefillin, or shel yad, may also be placed on the upper arm, with the strap wrapped around the arm and hand. Photo by hoyasmeg
Rooted broadly in principles of veneration of the ancestors and nature-centered spirituality, modern druidism is a broad church. There are eight key festivals attended by adherents throughout the year, four of which are based on solstices and equinoxes. Photo by Murky1
To attract the attention of a kami, or spirit, at a shrine, Shinto devotees will put coins into the shrine's collection box, clap their hands or ring a bell before contemplating their wish or request silently. A wish may also be written down and left at the shrine for the kami to consider. If granted, many will return to the shrine to leave further messages of thanks. Photo by Jesslee Cuizon.
According to halakha (Jewish law), all individual prayers and almost all community prayers may be said in any language that an individual chooses. Of contemporary prayers, only the prayer known as the Priestly Blessing is required to be said in Hebrew. In many cases, though, orthodox synagogues prefer to conduct prayers in the original Hebrew. Photo by chany14.