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AP PHOTOS: Faith, Sport and Celebration: the month in religion

From The Associated Press

August 2, 2021 GMT


In a newly established church in Mexico dedicated to Diego Maradona, a replica of his famous No. 10 jersey and other memorabilia adorned an altar in honor of the Argentine football legend who died in November.

One sea away in Madrid, a bullfighter in an ornately embroidered “Traje de Luces” or light suit held hands with a young girl in a chapel before performing in the famous Las Ventas arena.

A series of images captured in July by AP photographers around the world revealed a seemingly unlikely interaction between the world of faith and the more secular recreational realm of sport.

This included the four-year crown jewel of the sporting competition – the Summer Olympics, which took place in Tokyo this year. A member of the Iranian delegation marched during the opening ceremony wearing a bright blue-green headgear, which is typical of the religious attire of many Muslim women around the world.

And sometimes it came with a quirkier tone: In Miami, fans of the San Diego Padres of baseball at the ballpark wore brown monk robes and bulging tonsure wigs while clapping their hands in prayer and clapping their hands during the team’s game against the marlins.

July was also a month of sacred feasts and ceremonies for various faith traditions around the world.

For a second year, the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, was dramatically curtailed due to the pandemic, but people did what they could: workers wearing hygienic face masks set up a camp to hold pilgrims to the nearby city of Mina; female police officers who were newly dispatched to the force stood vigilant and in uniform as believers trickled past the cube-shaped Kaaba building at the Great Mosque; and Muslims prayed under the shade of umbrellas on the rocky Mountain of Mercy outside of Mecca.

At the end of the Hajj, the holiday of Eid al-Adha or “Festival of the Sacrifice” was celebrated by Muslims from Tel Aviv, Israel, where the Palestinians enjoyed a swim in the Mediterranean Sea, to Dakar, Senegal, where a boy was walking through the sand with sunglasses and cool his prayer rug after attending a mosque service.

In India, during an annual pilgrimage to the temple of the goddess Sheetla Mata in the northern city of Jammu, a Hindu devotee grimaced at a ritual cheek piercing with a metal stick, while a believer far south in Hyderabad wore a brightly colored face for the month-long bonalu Festival dedicated to Kali, the goddess of destruction.

And in Jerusalem, ultra-Orthodox Jewish men celebrated the fast day of Tisha B’Av, which commemorates the destruction of ancient temples by offering prayers at the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray in the Old City.

These and more are among the AP’s best beliefs of the month.


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Associated Press religious coverage is supported by the Lilly Foundation through The Conversation US. AP is solely responsible for this content.

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