FaithWorld

from Photographers' Blog:

Satan and the partying bunnies

By Lucy Nicholson

For those who have a dark view of Southern California, it might seem fitting to find Satan buried in a cemetery in Orange County next to a Carl’s Jr burger joint.

That’s where I found him resting on another heavenly day in sunny California, in between gravestones for other beloved pets that had departed for the great beyond.

The Sea Breeze Pet Cemetery in Huntington Beach has gone to the dogs. And cats. And bunnies. And guinea pigs. And parrots.

I was driving to lunch between assignments photographing Olympic swimming champ Janet Evans when a flash of color caught my eye on a wide boulevard in Huntington Beach. It wasn’t the gaudy color of strip malls and billboards, but an expanse of flowers in a cemetery.

I’d never seen a graveyard quite so full of bouquets. I was curious who was so missed that they inspired this scale of affection and remembrance. The first sign that this was not your ordinary graveyard was just inside the entrance. A statue of a pug stood over a headstone.

from Photographers' Blog:

An egg by any other name

By Lisi Niesner

Egg. Or as it's known in other languages:
Ei, яйцо, jajiko, muna, uovo, ägg, yumurta, oeuf, αβγό, tojás, vajce, بيضة, aeg, jaje, ovo, yai, 雞蛋, telur, huevo

It's the hard-shelled reproductive body produced by a bird and especially by the common domestic chicken, which is the definition that first comes to our sense. Obviously an egg is much more than the daily of decision how we like to have our breakfast: scrambled, fried or poached. Tea enthusiasts use a tea egg and we call someone naughty a bad egg. We walk on egg shells when we act cautiously as well as using eggs for certain sayings: no two eggs are exactly alike, for example.

Even scientists, theologians and philosophers have spent quite a lot of time thinking, discussing and literally quarreling about the egg. The question of how life began has always bothered mankind; we come up with approaches and theories to answer one question in particular: which came first, the chicken or the egg?

from Photographers' Blog:

Collecting karma

By Damir Sagolj

An angel-like girl, dressed all in white carries a pack of toothbrushes on a Sunday morning. She walks slowly, smiles all around and seems not to be bothered by music so loud that one can’t hear his own thoughts. She is on her way to the Mang Teung Sua Jung Cemetery in Chonburi province – where members of a local Thai Chinese community will exhume unclaimed bodies. Toothbrushes will be used to clean the dirt from bones.

One of the first books I read after arriving in Thailand more than two years ago was Bizarre Thailand - a collection of strange tales from the “land of smiles”. It was a nice introduction to what I could expect here in Thailand but I thought to myself – I’ve seen enough elsewhere; bizarre things in other countries so nothing can surprise me.

Well, this is Thailand and things go well beyond expectations. On this day, unclaimed dead bodies are taken out of graves in the corner of a massive cemetery in Choburi province. It is a Thai Chinese ritual that has been going on for decades since diseases like malaria killed many people 90 years ago in the province. The legend goes that officials began haphazardly digging up corpses so the city could build an airport and stopped only when they were haunted by ghosts. Since then, residents have felt it necessary to leave the land untouched and to honor those who have died without loved ones.

from Photographers' Blog:

Two worlds of Purim

By Nir Elias

As an Israeli and a resident of “ultra” secular Tel Aviv for most of my adult life, Purim -- the celebration of the Jews' salvation from genocide in ancient Persia, as recounted in the Book of Esther -- has always been a time of partying and dressing up, for me.

Images of Orthodox Jews celebrating Purim were always very familiar. But being present at one of these celebrations was a different experience altogether.

This year I went to photograph the Vizhnitz Hasidic community in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox city some 7 km (4 miles) from Tel Aviv. The Vizhnitz community members tend to emphasize the joyous gatherings and celebrations commemorated in the Jewish tradition.

Floods meet faith — Thailand’s floods swamp Buddhist temples

The surging Chao Phraya River swamping central Thailand and threatening the capital Bangkok has inundated many of the ubiquitous temples in the deeply Buddhist country. Here are some views of temples and statues taken by our photographers covering the flooding:

An aerial view of a flooded temple in Ayutthaya province October 15, 2011/Stringer

Villagers built a wooden bridge in a flooded temple complex in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok October 16, 2011/Chaiwat Subprasom

from Photographers' Blog:

A village of eternal bachelors

By Vivek Prakash

With the world's population set to hit 7 billion on October 31, photographers in India have been on the move to tell stories that talk about what those numbers really mean in a country as large as India - with 1.2 billion people and counting, this is supposed to be the world's largest democracy.

When you take a closer look at the statistics, you find some surprising and scary figures - the ratio of female children to males born actually declined here over the last 10 years - from 933 females for every thousand males in the 2001 census, to just 914 in 2011. The combination of cheap portable ultrasound technology and a decades-old preference for male babies -- who are seen as breadwinners -- has enabled sex-selective abortions and made worse female infanticide. In a place as wide and as vast as India, these are things that are hard to control, no matter how illegal.

We had been trying to find ways to illustrate this for some time without much success - getting access to tell this story had been taking some time. Late last month, a story about a small village in Gujarat was brought to my attention.

from Photographers' Blog:

Two sides of a living God

By Navesh Chitrakar

Born and raised in Kathmandu's Newar community I am familiar with Lord Ganesh. His elephant head attached to a human body makes him easy to identify. Ganesh is honored at the beginning of rituals and ceremonies as we celebrate religious festivals.

This month, I had the opportunity to take pictures of Living God Ganesh after I asked one of my friends who was close to the living god's family. I was pleased and surprised that the family was willing to accept me since they don’t normally allow pictures to be taken.

The first thing I saw was a six-year-old boy sitting on the sofa and yawning. The boy was the living god but he looked totally different from how he had looked when I saw him on the streets during festivals. In his home, the sofa was his throne.

from Photographers' Blog:

The trouble with Northern Ireland

Tradition is something that is celebrated, enjoyed and handed down to the next generation, but in the small corner of western Europe where I was born, it has led to shootings and bombings and the loss of thousands of lives.

For 16 years I’ve worked as a photographer covering ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland and in this time I’ve come to realize that what one side of the political and religious divide sees as celebration, the other sees as triumphalism.

The Twelfth of July parades are one such tradition that sparked disturbances on the streets of Belfast this week with rioters throwing petrol bombs and police responding with plastic bullets as Catholics and Protestants once again clashed.

from Photographers' Blog:

When monkeys tie the knot

It all started with a phone call. I was being invited to a wedding. Sounded good. I'd finally make my debut in wedding photography.

I had it all planned. I wanted to spend a day each at the groom's and the bride’s respectively. Now the only hiccup was I couldn’t interact with them. After all, they were no regular couple. They were monkeys.

Monkeys have an important place in Hindu mythology. They are worshiped as Lord Hanuman, the mighty ape that fought the devious Ravana alongside Lord Rama to create the epic Ramayana.

from Photographers' Blog:

Signs of hope through music in Iran

For some people, here is the end of the world, but for some who live here, it is paradise.

The Kahrizak Charity Foundation in southern Tehran, is home to hundreds of mentally and physically impaired people who range in age from young and old. In this place, you can feel life and death, joy and woe, and people who love each other. For these people music is the only positive thing.

The first time I went to Kahrizak, I expected to meet people who didn’t know what they wanted in their life and were just waiting for the angel of death to arrive but it was not as I had presumed.