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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This wall sculpture tells the story of Bhagiratha who practiced penance for eons to purify the sins of his ancestors.
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.
Cover of Time Magazine from December 11, 1950, depicting Mao's head surrounded by a cloud of red grasshoppers.
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.
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.
On a pillar of the temple, a lingam sits beneath the protective hood of a three-headed cobra, possible a naga.
On a pillar of the temple is this stylized peacock. The peacock is sometimes associated with the god Brahma and his consort, Saraswati.
Confucian statue, found in the Confucian temple directly across from a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Beijing.
Photo of the largest buddha in China, overlooking the confluence of two rivers in Leshan, Sichuan.
Cartong of milk (gyunu) for sale.
Various roots, mushrooms, and vegetables.
A shelf of soda and juices.
A sorting box, used to divide mail into prefectures, by hand.
White pottery pitcher attributed to the Longshan culture in China.