FORUM

Jan 25 2021

Bolivian Alasitas festival of prosperity goes ahead in El Alto despite COVID-19 pandemic

Bolivians attended the fair for the traditional pre-hispanic festival of Alasitas in honour of the indigenous deity Ekeko, in the city of El Alto on Sunday, despite the ongoing coroanvirus pandemic. Locals were seen browsing stalls at the busy fair, looking for the miniature figurines of the pre-Columbian deity of Ekeko believed to bring them prosperity. “It represents a day of culture, a tradition of celebration of the Alasitas festival, all in miniatures to be able to ask the Lord of Abundance, the Ekekito of Abundance. To ask for our little house, the car, the capital we need for this …

Jan 19 2021

Germany: Orthodox believers celebrate Epiphany with traditional freezing water plunge

Orthodox Christians were filmed taking a dip in the freezing waters of the Havel river in Berlin on Tuesday as part of Epiphany celebrations. Worshippers could be seen jumping into river after the clergyman lead some prayers and blessed the water. The bathing ritual during Epiphany is believed to purify the body, cure diseases, cleanse the soul and strengthen faith. FORUM

Jan 19 2021

Serbia: Orthodox athletes celebrate Epiphany with winter swim in Belgrade

Twelve Orthodox Christian athletes took part in a traditional Epiphany swim in Belgrade’s Ada Ciganlija icy lake, on Tuesday. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, fewer swimmers than usual were allowed to take part, and the race was not competitive. The 33-meter-swim, symbolising Jesus Christ’s 33 years, was followed by the release of seven pigeons symbolising God. Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin attended the event, which is held under the patronage of the Serbian Gendarmerie and six of the 12 swimmers taking part were police officers. Due to coronavirus restrictions, no audience was allowed were not allowed on the quay, though onlookers …

Jan 16 2021

India: Huge crowds ignore coronavirus norms to attend bull-taming festival

Thousands of people ignored coronavirus restrictions to pack into an arena in took to the streets of the Tamil Nadu city of Palamedu on Friday to watch a traditional bull-taming competition that marks the beginning of harvest season. The unique celebration, known as ‘Jallikattu,’ is a traditional event in which zebu bulls are released into a crowd of tamers who aim to hold onto it for as long as possible. The celebration has divided opinion in the country, and it was first banned by the Indian Supreme Court in 2014, but local authorities appealed to reverse the ban. This year, …

Jan 16 2021

Newlywed groom thrown into snow for good luck in 300-y/o Japanese tradition

A curious festival is held in Tokamachi City, in the small mountain village of Matsunoyama Onsen, every year on January 15, where newlyweds are thrown down a slope into snow. On Friday, a groom participated in the annual 300-year-old tradition for good luck, and was thrown into a thick pile of snow amid a cheering crowd. “Originally, this ritual festival, ‘Groom tossing’ was conducted because of the anger of a man who had taken away one beautiful woman from another villager. But after some period, it became the blessing ritual nowadays to greet the newlywed grooms,” explained Hiroyuki Nomoto, the …

Jan 14 2021

Serbia: Orthodox New Year celebrated with flare and fireworks in Belgrade

Several hundred people gathered in front of Saint Sava Temple in Belgrade on Wednesday evening to celebrate Orthodox New Year that is always celebrated on the night of January 13 according to the Julian calendar. The Orthodox New Year’s celebration started with the fireworks and was followed by the flare performance organised by a group of Partizan football fans. Afterwards, the midnight prayer was held by Bishop Stefan, head of Church of Saint Sava. “It is a tradition we learned from childhood. We used to come with our parents here earlier, in front of the church, and now we do …

Jan 13 2021

Algeria: Berbers celebrate Amazigh New Year with disputed statue of Pharaoh Sheshonq I

Amazigh communities celebrated the Amazigh New Year, also known as Yennayer in the north Algerian province of Tizi Ouzou, on Monday. People from the Amazigh community, known as the Berber, celebrated the first day of the year 2971 with festivities showcasing traditional food, music and dance, in the village of Afensou, in Larbaa Nath Irathen. Yennayer is the first month of the Berber Year, it means in Amazigh language month-one. It is the day that Shoshenq I took the throne as Pharaoh of Egypt. Its first day corresponds to the first day of January of the Julian Calendar. During the …

Jan 11 2021

Hundreds of Japanese 20-year-olds dress up for Coming of Age day despite pandemic

Hundreds of 20-year-old Japanese people celebrated crossing the threshold into adulthood in Kitakyushu, on the island of Kyushu, on Sunday, despite the pandemic putting a dampener on the typically raucous celebrations. The young participants could be seen dressed up in embroidered kimonos, formal suits, and playful attire to mark the landmark occasion. Coming of Age Day, known as Seijin Shiki in Japanese, usually falls on the second Monday of January, with this year’s event honouring those who have reached the age of 20 since April 2, 2020 or who will reach it by April 1, 2021. The tradition dates back …

Jan 9 2021

Jordan: Mass at Jesus’s baptism site held without pilgrims amid COVID concerns

Jordan’s Catholic community held a mass on Saturday to mark the annual Christian pilgrimage ceremony in Al-Maghtas, the site considered to be the original location of the baptism of Jesus Christ, located on the eastern bank of the River Jordan. This year’s ceremony took place without the usual procession of pilgrims due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Patriarch of Jerusalem for the Latins and Chairman of the Catholic Bishops Council of the Holy Land, led the ceremony in the presence of priests, nuns and monks. ”This year was very different from previous years,” said Zaid Haddad, a worshippers present …

Jan 9 2021

Philippines: Thousands gather in Manila for Black Nazarene procession despite pandemic

Over 20,000 Catholics gathered to pay tribute to the Black Nazarene statue of Jesus Christ in Manila on Saturday despite COVID-19 concerns. The religious event called ‘Traslacion’ dates back to over 200 years and attracts millions of pilgrims every year. Devotees believe that touching or simply being in Black Nazarene’s image presence can bring good fortune and heal the sick. ‘Traslacion 2021’ was scaled down due to the pandemic, with several health measures put in place. The usual procession was replaced by 15 masses celebrated at the Minor Basilica of Back Nazarene. “It’s nothing compared to the last one because …

Jan 7 2021

Serbia: Top officials attend Orthodox Christmas in Belgrade’s St Cava Temple

Metropolitan Hrizostom, interim leader of Serbian Orthodox Church led the Christmas Day liturgy at Saint Sava Temple – the main cathedral of the Serbian Orthodox Church – in Belgrade on Thursday. The service was attended by hundreds of worshippers, although in a significantly smaller scale due to COVID restrictions. Head of the Serbian Parliament Ivica Dacic, Minister of Foreign affairs Nikola Selakovic and members of Royal family and the Catholic Archbishop Stanislav Hocevar were among the more notable attendees. Serbia celebrates Christmas according to the Julian calendar. On this day, Christmas is also celebrated by worshippers in Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria …

Jan 7 2021

Egypt: Cairo Coptic Christmas Mass held amid tight COVID restrictions

The Coptic Orthodox Church priests held their annual Christmas Mass this year with very tight restrictions in Saint Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo’s Rawd Al-Faraj district on Wednesday. The church also announced that it would only allow no more than 20 attendees, including priests and deacons, to attend the service. This decision was made due to the worsening situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in the nation. Coptic Orthodox Christians make up the majority denomination of the country and celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January as opposed to the 25th December. According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, …

Jan 7 2021

Turkey: Orthodox community in Istanbul celebrate Epiphany amid COVID restrictions

Turkey’s Orthodox community gathered to mark the birth and baptism of Jesus Christ in Istanbul on Wednesday. Before the ceremony of Epiphany at Golden Horn, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople of the Eastern Orthodox Church Bartholomew I of Constantinople held service at St George (Aya Yorgi) Church. Following the service, the community met at Golden Horn to watch the race for a wooden cross thrown into the water. Due to the coronavirus restrictions, there were only two men in the celebration race. Normally the ritual attracts large numbers. Galip Yavuz, winner of the race, said that the sense of community surpassed …

Jan 7 2021

State of Palestine: Heads of Orthodox Churches arrive in Bethlehem for Christmas

Heads of the Orthodox and Oriental Churches arrived in Bethlehem on Wednesday, in anticipation of Christmas Eve. The celebrations this year have been simple due to the coronavirus pandemic. Marching bands of the local scout groups could be seen taking part in the parade to welcome the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and Palestine Theophilos III. Mayor of Bethlehem Tony Salman expressed optimism for the end of the virus. “Today we are facing exceptional circumstances because of the coronavirus and because of its spread in the society. As a result, this year is not really counted. We hope that the …

Jan 7 2021

Russia: Orthodox Christmas Mass held in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ Saviour

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia, led the Orthodox Christmas Eve mass in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on Wednesday. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus’ noted that last year was full of hard trials, and wished that people had learnt “a very difficult, but in all likelihood a necessary lesson,” to survive “outer life and gain inner well-being.” Due to coronavirus restrictions, this year only 350 believers with an official invitation could attend the Cathedral during Christmas Eve. The Russian Orthodox Church appealed to elderly parishioners and …

Jan 6 2021

Syria: Orthodox Armenians hold Christmas mass in Aleppo

Orthodox Armenian Christians celebrated a Christmas mass at the Cathedral of the Forty Martyrs in Aleppo on Wednesday. Worshipers were seen congregating and praying inside the church to mark Christmas eve which is celebrated on January 6 according to the Julian calendar. The Forty Martyrs Cathedral dates back to the 15th century. The edifice reopened in March following years of closure due to the ongoing conflicts in Syria. FORUM

Jan 6 2021

Bulgaria: Dip and dance in Tundzha River mark Epiphany despite COVID concerns

Hundreds of people held traditional Epiphany dance in the Tundzha River amid COVID-19 restrictions in the city of Kalofer on Wednesday. People headed to the river despite police warnings they could be penalised for violation of coronavirus measures. The all-male Epiphany tradition saw worshippers chain-dancing, waving national flags, and singing traditional Bulgarian songs to the sound of bagpipes and drums in the ice-cold water. As many as 70 Bulgarian men took part in the tradition despite a call by authorities to cancel the event. Traditionally, worshippers are required to embark on a quest to retrieve a wooden crucifix cast in …

Jan 6 2021

Greece: Orthodox Christians attend Epiphany service in defiance of COVID-19 restrix

Orthodox Christians held an Epiphany service at the Holy Metropolitan Church of Piraeus in Athens on Wednesday in an act of defiance against COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the authorities. The Epiphany service marks a key date in Christian belief, with some churches in Greece choosing to run a morning service with limited numbers, as had been previously permitted by the government. The restrictions on public gatherings did, however, change on Sunday as the government announced extended lockdown measures, effectively overturning permission to hold religious services. A plea against the holding of services by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis …

Jan 6 2021

Spain: Madrid marks Three Kings’ arrival without parade or public amid pandemic

The traditional Cavalcade of the Magi was limited to a televised stage performance in Madrid on Tuesday, a change from the normally crowded public parade that marked the occasion before the coronavirus pandemic. Members of the public were able to witness the reception of the Three Kings and a musical and dance performance via local TV or live-streaming, with Madrid’s mayor, Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, welcoming the performers onstage. “It’s a different year, so we had to receive the Three Kings in a different way,” explained Martinez-Almeida afterwards, adding that he hoped that next year “we can have the same cavalcade …

Jan 4 2021

Tokyo shrine visitors pray for good fortune on first business day of New Year

Hundreds of Japanese business people were among visitors who attended a religious service to celebrate the first day back in business at the Kanda Myojin shrine in Tokyo on Monday praying for good fortune for their businesses. “The year 2020 was a very difficult time in the world with coronavirus. But for our company, thankfully we had work, as usual. In 2021, again as well, in the midst of the threat of coronavirus worldwide, we, our company would like to do our best to make a leap forward,” explained a businessman of the Highway Toll Systems Co. Ikute Atsushi. Businessmen …

Jan 1 2021

Japan: Emperor and Empress give New Year’s address in video message

Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako addressed the public in a televised video message that was released by the Imperial Household Agency in Tokyo, on Thursday. They started by wishing everyone a happy yew year and then proceeded to discuss the hardships Japan has faced, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the fallout of which is still ongoing. “Over the past year, we have faced various difficulties and challenges due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, an unknown virus on a scale that most of us living in this era have never experienced. I wonder how sad the families of all …

Jan 1 2021

Brazil: Rio residents watch New Year’s Eve fireworks from crowded beach despite pandemic

Residents of Rio de Janeiro came out in numbers on Friday to gather and celebrate New Years Eve, watching fireworks from the crowded Copacabana beach. “They said there would be no businesses opened, bars would be closed, restaurants would not be opened. But I see crowds here, those are big contradictions,” said Evandro, a local resident, as bars and restaurants remained open on the beach. Earlier this week, city authorities annoucned that police would be closing access to the Copacabana beach and its surrounding for the New Year’s Eve celebration, which did not prevent smaller crowds than usual from gathering …

Jan 1 2021

Germany: Police chase COVID-19 restriction violators during NYE celebration in Berlin

The Berlin police were deployed to pursue and disperse residents found violating COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings and use of fireworks during the New Year’s Eve celebrations, in the early hours of Friday. Despite COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings and a partial ban on fireworks, several Berliners were seen lighting up the skies of the popular Berlin districts of Kreuzberg and Neukolln with a large numbers of fireworks, while some residents sparked flares from their balconies. Police units were seen deployed in the districts chasing off residents seen violating said restrictions, dispersing them and conducting searches in heavily crowded spaces. Ahead …

Jan 1 2021

Italy: Empty streets in Naples as city erupts with fireworks on New Year’s eve

Fireworks erupted throughout Naples to mark the New Year, on Thursday night, with unusually empty streets due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. A series of colorful and varied fireworks embellished the skies above the city through the night as public gatherings and celebrations were banned. FORUM

Jan 1 2021

Spain: Madrid leaves 2020 in the rear view mirror with New Year’s Eve Race

Madrid residents celebrated the new year with the traditional San Silvestre Vallecana 10 km (6.2 miles) annual race on Thursday. Under the motto ‘Goodbye 2020,’ 500 of runners took on the latest round of the San Silvestre Vallecana, which traditionally sees several thousands but it was limited due to COVID-19 this year. “It’s a very particular edition, it’ incredible, so emotive, because of the people who couldn’t make it, for the friends who couldn’t be here, in their name, we played out our skin, an incredible edition, without the logic and normal frame, but… a party,” said runner Santiago Romero …

Jan 1 2021

Germany: Berlin bids farewell to 2020 with a massive fireworks display at Brandenburg Gate

Berlin bid farewell to 2020 and welcomed the new year with a massive fireworks display at Brandenburger Tor as the clock struck midnight on Thursday night and in the early seconds of Friday. The event was broadcast live on television, as the German capital is under strict coronavirus restrictions amid the still-raging second wave of the pandemic. As no crowd was allowed to gather at the Brandenburg Gate to watch the show in person, German broadcaster ZDF used canned cheers during the countdown and fireworks. Note: Music at source may be subject to copyright FORUM

Dec 31 2020

China: Beijing kicks off 2021 with dazzling dance numbers

Beijing celebrated the New Year on Thursday with an extravagant dance and music show. Singers and dancers took to a giant stage to perform the spectacle before the traditional countdown to the New Year. China will be celebrating their traditional Chinese lunar calendar New Year on January 24. FORUM

Dec 31 2020

Thailand: Buddhist devotees lay down inside coffins as part of resurrection ritual

Buddhist devotees were seen laying themselves down inside coffins in a resurrection service that took place at the Wat Takien temple in the outskirts of Bangkok, Thursday. “Today, not many people (are here) because of COVID-19, but normally (it) has many people (in attendance),” said attendee Jiraporrn. According to tradition, attendees pay a small fee to lie inside the coffins, in a ritual believed to wash away sins and bring good fortune. Attendees were seen laying down inside coffins while a monk covered them with a shroud. Participants were then seen rising up from their coffins, in a move symbolising …

Dec 28 2020

Monks to live stream ‘Joya-no-Kane’ bell ringing ceremony for New Year’s Eve

: Buddhist monks rehearsed ringing a giant bell ceremonial bell, on Sunday, at Kyoto’s Chion-In Temple in preparation for the New Year ceremony known as Joya-no-Kane, which will be closed to the public and live streamed online, due to the coronavirus pandemic. ​”This year, due to the spread of coronavirus infection, it is unavoidable and unfortunate to cancel ‘Joya-no-Kane’, said monk Osaki Junkei. ​”We heard that many people wanted to visit and we thought that if we could live up to that as much as possible. So from around 22.30 in the night of New Year’s Eve, we would like …

Dec 25 2020

State of Palestine: Worshippers hold scaled down Christmas mass in Bethlehem church

Worshippers held a scaled down Christmas Mass at the Church of Saint Catherine in Bethlehem on Friday, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The church, which is adjacent to the northern part of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, conducted a brief Mass compared to the usual Christmas celebrations, due to the pandemic. “God willing, it will be the last Christmas that we have to celebrate like this. I am 70 years old and this is the first time in my whole life that I see the main door of the cradle shut down. But happy holidays for everyone in …

Dec 25 2020

France: Notre Dame hosts first Christmas concert since devastating fire

The Notre Dame de Paris choir performed a Christmas concert for the first time since last year’s devastating fire in Paris on Thursday. The singers changed their gala outfits for protective suits and hard hats to perform traditional Christmas carols. The cathedral, which is now a massive reconstruction site, is expected to be restored by 2024. FORUM

Dec 25 2020

Germany: Church holds Christmas mass at hardware store car park

A church in the northwestern German city of Viersen held a drive-in Christmas mass at a hardware store car park on Thursday. Roland Klugmann, a priest at St Remigius church said a community member came up with the idea. “God’s love knows no Corona pandemic, knows no restrictions. It overcomes every limit, even if this year we have to be separated from many dear people, we can be sure that we are connected through love, with the love of Christ,” said Klugmann. Religious services in churches across Germany were suspended as part of measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. …

Dec 25 2020

Iraq: Believers flock to Christmas mass in Qaraqosh

Believers attended a Christmas mass at the Monastery of Mar Behnam and Marth Sarah in Qaraqosh, Northern Iraq, on Thursday. The service brought together representatives of the Christian minority from across the region. The celebrations come as the Iraqi parliament approved a bill declaring Christmas a national holiday. FORUM

Dec 25 2020

State of Palestine: Christmas mass held in Bethlehem church

The traditional Christmas Eve midnight mass was held at Saint Catherine’s Church in Bethlehem on Thursday. The service, led by Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, which would normally be attended by hundreds of believers, took place in the presence of dozens of clerics and dignitaries. Due to an ongoing ban on foreigners entering Israel through airports and restrictions on travel between cities in the occupied West-Bank, worshippers were discouraged from making the trip to Bethlehem this year. FORUM

Dec 24 2020

Holy See: Christmas Eve Mass held at St Peter’s Basilica

The traditional Christmas Eve Mass was held at St Peter’s basilica in Vatican City on Thursday. The mass was celebrated with a limited number of attendees and with specific restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As was the case during Easter, Pope Francis will not go out the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica to greet and bless the faithful on Christmas Day and Saint Peter’s Square will be empty this year. FORUM

Dec 24 2020

State of Palestine: Bethlehem nativity parade marked by COVID-19 restrictions

The annual nativity parade in Bethlehem took place with a smaller crowd this year due to COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, was seen attending a Christmas eve ceremony at the Church of Saint Catherine. “Our message, as the children of Bethlehem, the city of Christ, is a message of hope, love and peace for all the world, despite them not being celebrations as they used to be, but we are determined to send a message of hope, love and peace to all the world from the heart of Bethlehem,” said a member of …

Dec 23 2020

Syria: Zaitoun church holds Christmas tree-lighting ceremony

Hundreds of Christians gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Dormition, also known as the Zaitoun Church, in Damascus, on Tuesday, to sing carols and light the Christmas tree. Worshippers were seen in the cathedral for the recital before gathering outside to light the Christmas tree in front of the church. Participants were seen wearing masks, with some maintaining social distancing. FORUM

Dec 12 2020

Syria: Marmarita residents celebrate lighting up Christmas tree in St Peter’s Square

Residents of Marmarita, in Homs Governorate, celebrated the holiday season by lighting up a Christmas tree in the square of Saint Peter’s Monastery on Friday. Large numbers of locals could be seen celebrating and dancing in the square, as the tree was aglow and fireworks being fired into the sky, while event organisers were seen distributing face masks among the attendees. “We have encountered many problems, economic-related or COVID-related ones, along with other problems. We have strived to accomplish this work,” said one of the event’s organisers, who hoped the event will ‘be admired’ by the attendees and will ‘stir …

Dec 8 2020

Guatemala burns ‘devil’ effigies to make way for Christmas

Every December 7, Guatemalans gather to celebrate the traditional ‘burning of the devil,’ a ritual that sets fire to effigies that often represent public figures. The celebration, which serves as a preamble to Christmas, symbolises the triumph of good over evil. Footage filmed on Monday in Guatemala City shows several traditional devil figures for sale, which in many cases include satirical or current affairs messages. This year, the coronavirus, which has been depicted alongside the devil, attracted special attention. The burning of a giant effigy about three metres (9.84 feet) high was recorded in zone 5 of the capital. The …

Dec 5 2020

Egypt: Bird lovers mark International Falconry Day with show near Alexandria

Falcon lovers, who gathered to mark the International Falconry Day near Alexandria on Friday, were treated to a show displaying the bird’s many talents. Falconers from across the country gathered for the event, demonstrating the basics of training the birds of prey. Some of them said they hoped to attract greater interest in falconry and spread awareness, as well as showing amateurs how to take care of the birds. FORUM

Nov 16 2020

Nepal: Kathmandu locals celebrate dogs during ‘Kukur Tihar’ festival

Nepalese citizens celebrated ‘Kukur Tihar’ (‘Dog Festival’), which marks the second day of a five-day long festival of lights and animals, in Kathmandu on Saturday. Locals were seen placing garlands of flowers on dogs and offering the canines treats, while showing them plenty of affection. “In Hindu philosophy, we see all the creatures [as] equal. The dog is considered as the god of the dead. So when we celebrate the dog, it means that when we die, we go to heaven,” said Shuklawath Basnet, the manager of KAT Centre, a non-profit animal welfare organisation. The five-day festival ‘Yama Panchak’ is …

Aug 1 2020

Saudi Arabia: Third day of scaled-down Hajj pilgrimage takes place in Mecca

The Hajj pilgrimage continued on its third day in the Muslim holy city of Mecca amid restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic on Saturday. The third day, known as ‘yawm-ul hajj al-akbar’ (the big hajj day), sees pilgrims celebrating the Eid al-Adha holiday and performing a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing seven pebbles at the largest of three columns known as Jamarat in Muzdalifah. Visitors at the mosque appeared to be following restrictions, wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines during prayers. This year, the world’s biggest gathering of Muslims has been limited to fewer than 10,000 …

Jul 24 2020

Crowds gather for Haitian Vodou festival in Plaine-du-Nord

Crowds gathered in the Haitian town of Plaine-du-Nord for an annual Voodoo or Vodou celebration on Friday. People were seen dancing, singing, and playing musical instruments such as rumba shakers and drums while animals such as bullocks and cows seen sacrificed for the occasion. The worshippers were also seen bathing in mud and lighting candles as part of the festival’s celebrations. People also prayed at the Catholic church of St. James, who is known as Ogoun Ferraille and worshipped by followers of Voodoo. The Haitian Voodoo evolved among African slaves in the Caribbean island of Hispaniola around the 17th century, …

Jun 10 2020

Germany: Deutsche Oper Berlin to reopen with performance of ‘Rheingold’ in car park

The Deutsche Oper Berlin [German opera Berlin] held a rehearsal for their upcoming open air performance of Richard Wagner’s ‘Rheingold’ on Tuesday. Amid coronavirus restrictions and as opera houses remain closed until the end of July 2020, the performance will take on the parking deck of the opera with a reduced orchestra. Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Dietmar Schwarz, said that the 800 tickets for this performance sold out within 12 minutes. “Now here, we only have a small orchestra, also because of the distance rules, and we are quite satisfied with the sound, let’s hope it’s the same …

Jun 5 2020

Indonesia: Jakarta mosques reopen for Friday prayers after lockdown

Friday prayers resumed in Jakarta for the first time in nearly two months as the government eased the COVID-linked restrictions. The Al-Azhar mosque, one of the city’s largest, was packed with worshippers wearing masks and keeping social distances. Security personnel were seen checking temperatures on the way in. “I am in tears as now I can participate in Friday prayers in Al-Azhar Mosque. I felt sad when Friday prayers could not be held during the partial lockdown and now slowly but surely the conditions are going back to normal and we can hold Friday prayers again. I am really happy, …

May 30 2020

Vatican: Pope Francis leads Rosary praying for relief from COVID-19

Pope Francis led a Rosary prayer in the Vatican on Saturday, imploring protection against the coronavirus and praying for those affected by the disease. It’s been the largest public gathering in the Holy See in three months. “Mother of God, and our Mother, implore on our behalf from the Father of Mercy, that this hard test ends and that a horizon of hope and peace returns. Just like in Cana, intervene with your Son, Jesus, asking him to comfort the families of the sick and the victims, and to open their hearts to trust. Protect the doctors, nurses, health workers, …

May 24 2020

Nigeria: Hundreds gather for Eid-al-Fitr prayers as religious gathering ban temporarily loosened

Hundreds of worshippers gathered at a mosque in New Karu on Sunday to celebrate the end of Ramadan together and to join for Eid-al-Fitr prayers as gathering restrictions were eased in some Nigerian regions for the occasion. Attendees at the prayers did not appear to be following social distancing rules, as they prayed in close proximity with each other, with most participants also not wearing masks, despite government issued rules. “We all know how coronavirus has prevented us from worshipping here for months. So I’m grateful to see my worshippers with excitement and joy. And I pray Almighty Allah will …

May 24 2020

Libya: Eid al-Fitr met by empty Martyrs’ Square in Tripoli

Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square remained empty on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, one of Islam’s major holidays, on Sunday, due to the restrictions imposed to prevent the further spread of the coronavius. As part of the measures, mosques are also set to remain closed to the public, whereas gatherings with family and friends are advised against. Eid al-Fitr is a major holiday in Islam. The feast is characterised with an abundance of food after the daytime fasting of the month of Ramadan.Tensions have grown near Tripoli in recent days, as forces of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) took …

May 24 2020

Iran: Eid al-Fitr prayers draw thousands of worshippers despite COVID concerns

Thousands of faithful worshippers attended an outdoor prayers’ ceremony to mark the end the fasting of Ramadan and celebrate Eid al-Fitr in Behrood square near Parvaz park Tehran on Sunday. After the coronavirus outbreak hit Iran terribly in the early stages of the pandemic, Iranian authorities imposed a lockdown. During the lockdown period places of worship were closed and public gatherings were prohibited. “We, as Muslims, should perform our religious duties. And we took part in the Eid al-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan, just like other Muslims. Anyway, we are so glad that we could join the Eid al-Fitr …

May 24 2020

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Muslim believers celebrate start of Eid al-Fitr in Sarajevo

Muslim believers marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the beginning of the Eid al-Fitr, with a traditional prayer in Sarajevo’s Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque on Sunday. This year’s Eid al-Fitr takes place against the backdrop of restrictions and measures imposed to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus. Some of those measures, such as wearing a mask, were seen in the Sarajevo mosque, whereas measures such as social distancing were applied sparingly, as seen in footage from the mosque and the city centre. Sarajevo resident Ahmed Kadric said, “From what we saw, all measures were taken to protect …