AP PHOTOS: A month of religious holidays, pyres and prayer
Multiple funeral pyres of victims of COVID-19 burn in an area that has been converted for mass cremation in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 24, 2021. Authorities are scrambling to get medical oxygen to hospitals where COVID-19 patients are suffocating from low supplies. The effort Saturday comes as the country with the world's worst coronavirus surge set a new global daily record of infections for the third straight day. The 346,786 infections over the past day brought India's total past 16 million.
Parishioners gather on a beach for an Easter Sunday service at sunrise hosted by Hope Community Church of Manasquan, Sunday, April 4, 2021, in Manasquan, N.J.
Relatives mourn over the body of a loved one who died from COVID-19, at the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery just outside Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. After facing criticism for downplaying the virus in 2020, authorities have put partial lockdowns and other measures in place to try and slow the coronavirus' spread, as Iran faces what looks like its worst wave of the coronavirus pandemic yet.
Palestinian women wait to cross the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem to attend the first Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa mosque, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Friday, April 16, 2021. The Human Rights Watch group says Israel is guilty of the international crimes of apartheid and persecution, citing discriminatory policies toward Palestinians within Israel and in the occupied territories.
A man holds a sign that reads "Stop forced vaccination" during a protest outside the Cotroceni Presidential Palace in Bucharest, Romania, Saturday, April 10, 2021. Marchers took to the streets of the Romanian capital to protest restrictive measures to fight the spread of COVID-19 even as new daily infections and deaths rise in the European Union nation.
Israeli border police stand guard during clashes between Palestinians and the Jewish extremist group Lahava just outside Jerusalem's Old City, Thursday, April 22, 2021. Members of Lehava plan to march to the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, where Palestinians have clashed with Israeli police in recent days over restrictions on outdoor gatherings during the holy month of Ramadan. Tensions are high in Jerusalem following a series of violent confrontations between Jewish and Palestinian youths who documented some of the assaults in TikTok videos.
Children and their parents release birds celebrating the Annunciation on the eve of Orthodox Easter in front of the St. Tatiana Church in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Eastern Orthodox churches, which observe the ancient Julian calendar, usually celebrate Easter later then Western churches.
Hasidic Jewish pilgrims walk to the grave of Grand Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner, founder of a famous Hasidic dynasty, to commemorate the anniversary of his death in the village of Bodrogkeresztur, Hungary, Thursday, April 15, 2021. Despite many government imposed restrictions in place in Hungary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, religious events may still be held. AP Photo/Laszlo Balogh
Naga Sadhu, naked Hindu holy men, wait for the start of a procession towards the river Ganges for Shahi Snan (Royal Bath) during Kumbh Mela, in Haridwar in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, Monday, April 12, 2021. As states across India are declaring some version of a lockdown to battle rising COVID-19 cases in a nationwide second-wave, thousands of pilgrims are gathering on the banks of the river Ganges for the Hindu festival. The faithful believe that a dip in the waters of the Ganges will absolve them of their sins and deliver them from the cycle of birth and death.
Tigrayan refugee Abraha Kinfe Gebremariam, 40, center, prays at a church early in the morning in Hamdayet, eastern Sudan, near the border with Ethiopia, on March 21, 2021.
Kashmiri Muslims wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus pray inside the shrine of Sufi saint Shiekh Abdul Qadir Jeelani during the holy month of Ramadan in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Muslims across the world are observing the holy fasting month of Ramadan, where they refrain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn to dusk.
A family has their son's head tonsured during Kumbh Mela, in Haridwar in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, Monday, April 12, 2021. As states across India are declaring some version of a lockdown to battle rising COVID-19 cases in a nationwide second-wave, thousands of pilgrims are gathering on the banks of the river Ganges for the Hindu festival. The faithful believe that a dip in the waters of the Ganges will absolve them of their sins and deliver them from the cycle of birth and death.
Residents have an Iftar meal to break their fast during the second week of Ramadan at a roadside eatery in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Muslims around the world are observing Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, in which they refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and having sex from dawn to dusk.
An effigy representing Judas Iscariot explodes as it burns during Holy Week in the Catia neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, April 4, 2021. Most people are staying home after Holy Week activities were canceled due to the increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths. The Burning of Judas is an Easter-time ritual in many communities, where an effigy of Judas Iscariot is hanged on Good Friday, then burned on Easter Sunday.
Priestess Laura D'Oya Yalorixa, right, hugs a devotee during an Umbanda religious ceremony closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic but broadcast live, marking St. George's Day at the Casa de Caridade Santa Bárbara Iansa in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 23, 2021.
Artist Mervin Marmol puts the finishing touches on his painting of the late Dr. Jose Gregorio Hernandez at the street corner where he died in a car accident in 1919 in La Pastora neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, April 26, 2021. Known as the "doctor of the poor," Hernandez is set to be beatified by the Catholic church, a step towards sainthood, on April 30.
A man swings fireworks during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, on the beach of Gaza City, Monday, April 26, 2021.
People pray by burning candles on the feast day of Saint George outside Saint George Church, closed to help contain the spread of COVID-19, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil before sunrise, Friday, April 23, 2021. The Catholic saint is associated with bravery and resistance.
A man takes a nap while waiting for the time to break his fast at the Kubah Mas mosque in Depok, Indonesia, Friday, April 16, 2021. During Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to dusk.
A woman listens to a guide at a reproduction of the headquarters bunker of the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB) Mila 18 in the Warsaw Ghetto at the museum "From Holocaust to Revival" on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, Israel, Wednesday, April. 7, 2021. Holocaust remembrance day is one of the most solemn on Israel's calendar with restaurants and places of entertainment shut down, and radio and TV programming focused on Holocaust documentaries and interviews with survivors.
Jewish men walk past Palestinian men stringing colored lights across a main walkway on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the Old City of Jerusalem, Monday, April 12, 2021.
Around the world April was the month when many religions celebrated their most important holidays. But it also was the month when the focus for individuals was on burial rites as they said goodbye to loved ones as COVID-19 continued to impact the religious world.
Flames and smoke rose from the funeral pyres of COVID-19 victims in a makeshift, outdoor mass crematorium in New Delhi.
To the north in Haridwar, holy men in face coverings waited for a procession to the Ganges River for a dip in its waters, believed to absolve one’s sins, during the Hindu festival Kumbh Mela.
Also in that holy city, a young boy having his head shaved at the river’s bank was one of thousands of pilgrims who flocked there even as states nationwide instituted virus lockdowns.
The eyes of the world turned toward India in April as coronavirus cases and deaths spiked precipitously there, setting new global records for the most daily infections in a single country. So, too, did the lenses of photographers documenting the pandemic’s fast-moving spread in the nation of nearly 1.4 billion people, yielding some of the AP’s most compelling faith-related images of the month.
While India is majority Hindu, it’s also home to some 200 million Muslims who were likewise obliged to balance pandemic restrictions and precautions with observances of Ramadan, which runs through mid-May. In Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Muslims wearing masks prayed inside the shrine of Sufi saint Shiekh Abdul Qadir Jeelani during the holy month, when the faithful refrain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn to dusk.
Similar scenes played out elsewhere in the Muslim world for Ramadan.
In Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority nation, a man wore his mask over his eyes as a blindfold while napping at a mosque in Depok, waiting to break his fast. Families in Jakarta, the capital, ate together on outdoor tables set up next to food stands as twilight faded into night.
There were fireworks in Gaza for Ramadan, as well as strings of colored lights in the streets of Jerusalem. The disputed holy city also saw clashes between Palestinians and police over restrictions on outdoor gatherings, and a series of violent confrontations between Jewish and Palestinian youths.
Many of the world’s Christians celebrated Easter on the first Sunday of April as the culmination of the most sacred week of the year for the faith. In Caracas an effigy representing Judas Iscariot burned on a darkened street, though most Venezuelans were staying home with Holy Week activities canceled amid a rise in coronavirus infections and deaths.
And in Moscow, beaming children and their parents released birds into the air in celebration of the Annunciation ahead of Orthodox Easter, which this year falls in early May.
These and more are among the AP’s top faith-related images published in April.
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