Rituals and Festivals
Collected by Derk Richardson, AFAR Staff
Close-up views of the ways people celebrate and practice.
Lotificacion San Jose, Nejapa, El Salvador
Once a year on August 31st, the little town of Nejapa, just outside of San Salvador hosts the Fireball Festival (Bolas de Fuego). Started 90 years ago to commemerate the eruption of a nearby volcano, balls of cloth wrapped with wire are soaked in...
At no time of the year is patriotism, as well as oranjegekt, more apparent in Holland than on Koningsdag or King's Day. Formerly Koninginnedag or Queen's Day, the holiday celebrates the birthday of King Willem, who took the reins when his mother,...
Snowmass Village, CO, USA
When I think of Aspen, I tend to think of winter, fancy people, and the movie Dumb & Dumber. And when I hear the words jazz festival, I immediately hear tunes from Herbie Hancock and Esperanza Spalding play through my head. So imagine my surprise...
PLAZA MAYOR CENTRO DE, Cusco 08000, Peru
Five minutes after settling into my hostel in Cusco and meeting up with an international contingent of newly found friends from the prior week in Lima, we made our way toward the Plaza de Armas, center of the gone but not forgotten Inca Empire. As...
Av. Vieira Souto, 706 - Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22420-012, Brazil
While jogging off a huge dinner before hitting the beach in Ipanema one morning, my headphones became overwhelmed by drumming and whistles. When I lifted my sweat soaked head to check out the commotion ahead, I was amazed to see brightly colored...
Largo do Bonfim, s/n - Bonfim, Salvador - BA, 40415-475, Brazil
The ribbons tied to the gates of the Church of Bonfim (and to wrists of visitors in Salvador) signify the thousands of pilgrims who arrive at this historic site. The ribbons, called "lembrancas," are tied with a prayer or wish in mind. Each color...
Ubud, Bedulu, Blahbatuh, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
Rejang dancers make haste to catch up with the procession going to Goa Gajah, the sacred Elephant Caves outside of Ubud, Bali. They will be one of the many ritual performances that celebrate the temple's odalan, or anniversary.
Jl. Sedap Malam No.72 A, Kesiman, Denpasar Tim., Kota Denpasar, Bali 80118, Indonesia
While in Ubud, I saw many wonderful dance performances--there is a different one each night of the week. The best however, was Semara Ratih--it was amazing and mesmerizing. It clearly stood out above the others in its refinement. So if you are in...
69 Thanon Si Ayutthaya, Khwaeng Dusit, Khet Dusit, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10300, Thailand
We spent our first day in Bangkok walking through the older part of the city and visiting its popular temples. When at the end of the long day we arrived at Wat Benchamabophit, a magnificent temple constructed with Italian Carrara marble in 1899,...
161 Sajik-ro, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Late spring and early summer in Seoul: musicians in medieval clothing infuse the grounds of Gyeongbok Palace with a sense of its storied past. Built in the 1390's when a new dynasty established Seoul as its capital, Gyeongbok-gung ("The Palace of...
161 Sajik-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Originally built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest and greatest of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces. Burned down during the Japanese invasion of 1592, it was reconstructed in 1867. Today, the palace grounds, filled with lotus ponds,...
Plaça de Sant Jaume, 1, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
On our first day in Barcelona, we learned that the city has surprises in store around every corner. We had just met up with American expat Jeff Koehler in the plaza in front of the Santa Maria del Pi church, about to head up a narrow street to THE...
La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain
Shortly after we arrived in Plaça del Pi in Barcelona's Barri Gòtic, so did a parade of gigantes and castellers. The latter (who name comes from the Catalonian word for castles) climb upon one another to build human towers. The tradition goes back...
Mountain Blvd & Pinewood Rd, Oakland, CA 94611, USA
There's a house in the lower hills of Oakland, CA, that always stages an extravagant Halloween tableaux, around such themes as "Hell's Kitchen, "Thriller" (the year Michael Jackson died), and "Creepy Carnival. This zombie janitor was on the scene...
1 Chome-8-20 Ōmachi, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa-ken 248-0007, Japan
During a visit to Kamakura (about 50 km south of Tokyo, about an hour by rail), we spent an hour or so at the Miyamoto Kimono Shop (1-8-20 O-machi, Kamakura City). In one of the back rooms, this young man was being taught chado ("the way of tea")....
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