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  • Thumbnail for Aurangzeb Mosque, ritual ablutions before prayer
    Aurangzeb Mosque, ritual ablutions before prayer

    Before praying, all Muslim worshippers must purify themselves by performing ritual ablutions. Mosques provide fountains or individual water spigots so that each person can carry out this ritual cleansing.

  • Thumbnail for Khuldabad, dome of the Aurangzeb Mosque
    Khuldabad, dome of the Aurangzeb Mosque

    A staunchly religious man, Aurangzeb enforced Sharia law for all, forbidding drinking and gambling in his realm, and reinstating the hated jizya tax on non-Muslims.

  • Thumbnail for Painted Maitreya Buddha
    Painted Maitreya Buddha

    The last in a series of painted buddhas and bodhisattvas framing the doorway above one of the caves, the royal Maitreya, buddha of a future age, is seated in a lotus position. His right hand may be held in the varada mudra, the gesture of compassion.

  • Thumbnail for Zar Zari Zar Baksh inner courtyard
    Zar Zari Zar Baksh inner courtyard

    After walking up the stairs and through the arched main entranceway to the dargah, one enters the courtyard which leads to another set of steps and another arched entrance. Behind that doorway lies the tomb of the saint, Zar Zari Zar Baksh, and a second tomb for the mother of the saint. Both of these tombs are sacred sites, important to pilgrims seeking help and consolation.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, Ardhanarishvara
    Kailash Cave Temple, Ardhanarishvara

    Ardhanarishvara, the Lord who is Half Woman, has been carved into one of the many niches on the outside of the temple. The sculptors depicted many of the well-known stories of Hindu gods and goddesses on the walls of the temple. Pilgrims walking past these depictions are reminded of the tales and their teachings.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall entrance, near view
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall entrance, near view

    This ornate entranceway to Chaitya Hall would have received large numbers of monks and pilgrims. Today, children on school field trips climb through the stone passageways to learn about the history of these early communities.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, inner sanctum doorway
    Kailash Cave Temple, inner sanctum doorway

    This doorway leads into a small shrine room with a lingam carved in a yoni, symbol of the union of Shiva and Shakti, the divine male and female. The light of the candle, the only illumination in this inner shrine room, is visible through the doorway.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Hindu Caves, Shiva Lingam shrine
    Ellora Hindu Caves, Shiva Lingam shrine

    Within a large cave, this Shiva Lingam is set up several steps and inside a small shrine area protected by two imposing door-guardians [dvara-palas]. Positioning the lingam in this way demonstrates respect and devotion for the god Shiva.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Datta Temple, silver makara
    Ellora, Datta Temple, silver makara

    On a pillar of the temple is this gray makara, a mythical aquatic beast associated with the Ganges gharial, a species of crocodile. The makara is associated with Kamadeva, god of desire, as well as the goddess Ganga and the Vedic god of the sea, Varuna.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, Assembly Hall
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, Assembly Hall

    This cave appears to have been excavated as a gathering places for the monks. Along the middle of the cave run two long stone benches where monks would have sat to eat, listen to teachings, chant, etc. Like others in this series, this cave demonstrates that large numbers of monks congregated in this area.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, school field trip
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, school field trip

    The Ellora Caves are a popular site for school field trips. Students learn the history of the early religious communities who lived in this area as they walk through the caves and observe the figures and symbols.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, Bhagiratha's Penance
    Kailash Cave Temple, Bhagiratha's Penance

    This wall sculpture tells the story of Bhagiratha who practiced penance for eons to purify the sins of his ancestors.

  • Thumbnail for Osechi
    Osechi

    Japanese New Year's food is called osechi-ryori, and consists of many different kinds of dishes. It's a Japanese tradition to eat osechi-ryori throughout the New Year's holiday or until Jan. 3. Traditionally, people finish cooking osechi dishes by New Year's Eve so they have food for a couple days without cooking. Most of the dishes can last a few days in the refrigerator or at cool room temperature. Colorful osechi-ryori dishes are packed in layers of lacquer boxes, called jubako. Each dish and type of food in osechi has meaning, such as good health, fertility, good harvest, happiness, long life, and so on. Nowadays, many people in Japan buy osechi at stores instead of cooking them at home since it can be time-consuming to cook so many kinds of dishes. If you are in Japan, you can order a set of osechi-ryori at department stores, grocery stores, or convenience stores. The kinds of osechi dishes eaten at Japanese homes vary from region to region. Osechi cuisine is packed in three or four-tiered lacquer boxes called jubako. Here's what goes in where. Ichi-no-ju (top tier) Kuromame (black beans), a symbol of health, are boiled in syrup. Kazunoko, with its myriad of tiny eggs, is a symbol of procreation. It is usually seasoned with soy sauce. Tazukuri symbolizes a good harvest, and consists of tsukudani made with small sardines. Kurikinton is kuri (sweet chestnuts) and mashed satsumaimo (sweet potato) boiled in a sweet sauce. Terigomame are baby sardines simmered in sugar and soy sauce till sticky while datemaki is a sweet cake-like egg that symbolizes knowledge. Ni-no-ju (second tier) Most items in this second box are seafood tidbits to be snacked on while imbibing hot sake. Namasu is a salad of shredded daikon (Japanese radish) and carrot seasoned in vinegar. Also included are: vinegar-seasoned octopus, vinegar and lemon juice marinade of squid, cucumber, grilled shrimp, and Japanese turnip. Marinated pond smelt is also popular. San-no-ju (third tier) The third box holds mostly vegetables and roots. Most vegetables in this box are seasoned with sugar, stock and soy sauce and pair well with rice. Broiled taro, twisted konnyaku and other root vegetables are common. Yo-no-ju (fourth tier) Nishime (simmered root vegetables) is comprised of artistically arranged vegetables such as carrot, gobo (burdock root), renkon (lotus root), yatsugashira (taro), etc.

  • Thumbnail for Red China's Mao: New War, Old Warlord
    Red China's Mao: New War, Old Warlord

    Cover of Time Magazine from December 11, 1950, depicting Mao's head surrounded by a cloud of red grasshoppers.

  • Thumbnail for Grocery Store Display:  Cheeses
    Grocery Store Display: Cheeses

    Although the Japanese don't traditionally like cheeses, more people eat cheese these days. This grocery store has an impressive selection although this is *just* a regular super market.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Datta Temple, ascetic figure on roof
    Ellora, Datta Temple, ascetic figure on roof

    An ascetic figure sits atop the roof of the temple, clothed in the saffron robes that indicate his commitment to live as a brahmacarin and carrying the walking stick necessary for his life as wanderer. The sunglasses indicate that this figure was probably meant to represent a contemporary guru respected by the lineage of ascetics associated with this temple.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Datta Temple, Linga and Naga
    Ellora, Datta Temple, Linga and Naga

    On a pillar of the temple, a lingam sits beneath the protective hood of a three-headed cobra, possible a naga.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Datta Temple, stylized peacock
    Ellora, Datta Temple, stylized peacock

    On a pillar of the temple is this stylized peacock. The peacock is sometimes associated with the god Brahma and his consort, Saraswati.

  • Thumbnail for Confucian Statue
    Confucian Statue

    Confucian statue, found in the Confucian temple directly across from a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Beijing.

  • Thumbnail for Leshan Buddha
    Leshan Buddha

    Photo of the largest buddha in China, overlooking the confluence of two rivers in Leshan, Sichuan.

  • Thumbnail for Grocery Store Display:  Milk
    Grocery Store Display: Milk

    Cartong of milk (gyunu) for sale.

  • Thumbnail for Grocery Store Display:  Kinoko
    Grocery Store Display: Kinoko

    Various roots, mushrooms, and vegetables.

  • Thumbnail for Grocery Store Display:  Drinks
    Grocery Store Display: Drinks

    A shelf of soda and juices.

  • Thumbnail for Post Office Sorting Box, close up
    Post Office Sorting Box, close up

    A sorting box, used to divide mail into prefectures, by hand.

  • Thumbnail for Pitcher
    Pitcher

    White pottery pitcher attributed to the Longshan culture in China.