Ritual forms part of all our lives. Using the term in its broadest sense, ritual ranges from the religious to the profane, and takes an extraordinary array of shapes and forms. The symbolic behaviours we perform are surprisingly ubiquitous across cultures and time.
In this latest instalment of his photojournalism feature ‘This World,’ CABLE Contributing Editor David Pratt takes us from voodoo darkness in Haiti, to the gentleness of traditional Cambodian dance. Along the way, we follow the Stations of the Cross in East Jerusalem, witness a newly married refugee couple in Lebanon, and the celebration of spearfishing divers in Spain. Ritual is inexhaustible. This portfolio gives us an insight into some of the symbolic acts that bind us as human beings.
IMAGE 1/20: An Israeli soldier writes a prayer message before posting it at the Western Wall. Jerusalem (1988)
IMAGE 2/20: Carnival dancers re-enact a massacre by anti-trade union gunmen against banana plantation workers. Colombia (2014).
IMAGE 3/20: An elderly man carrying his Quran leaves his home to pray at a mosque. His granddaughter watches on. Somaliland (2013).
IMAGE 4/20: A priest gives a blessing to worshippers outside a church in Donetsk during a tense Easter period when fighting gripped the city. Eastern Ukraine (2014).
IMAGE 5/20: A woman in a Mogadishu camp for displaced people struggles to perform the ritual so common to many Africans – fetching and carrying water. Somalia (2013).
IMAGE 6/20: An age-old ritual: spearfishing divers in Tarifa proudly show off the biggest of their catch. Spain (2015).
IMAGE 7/20: A sculpture by a voodoo artist at his studio in Port au Prince during the overthrow of the government. Haiti (2004).
IMAGE 8/20: The first day of term for girls at a school in Mogadishu for families displaced by the war. Somalia (2013).
IMAGE 9/20: A newly married Syrian refugee couple stand outside what now passes for their home in a refugee camp. Lebanon (2016).
IMAGE 10/20: Relatives of a deceased man pray as they have his remains moved to a new plot at a cemetery in northern Colombia (2014).
IMAGE 11/20: Young Buddhist monks prepare to enter a temple in Phnom Penh. Cambodia (1992).
IMAGE 12/20: A Bosnian Muslim woman prays over the graves of her sons and husband, victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre (2014).
IMAGE 13/20: A man from the Twa pygmy tribe plays a traditional instrument in a greeting to visitors. Malawi (2015).
IMAGE 14/20: American Christian pilgrims re-enact the Stations of the Cross in East Jerusalem at Easter (1988).
IMAGE 15/20: Young Afghan Shia commemorate the Ashura, or martyrdom, at Karbala of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Afghanistan (1987).
IMAGE 16/20: Traditional coffin decorators at work in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam (1992).
IMAGE 17/20: Christian pilgrims follow the Stations of the Cross in East Jerusalem at Easter (1989).
IMAGE 18/20: A Sandinista soldier has his photograph taken before heading off to active service during the Contra War. Nicaragua (1987).
IMAGE 19/20: Traditional Cambodian dancers – the first troupe to be brought together after the genocide by the Khmer Rouge – rehearse in a temple in Phnom Penh. Their predecessors were all killed. Cambodia (1992).
IMAGE 20/20: The religious melting pot that is East Jerusalem where Jews, Christians, and Muslims rub shoulders in a myriad of rituals (1988).
David Pratt is a multi-award winning journalist, photographer, broadcaster and editor. As a correspondent, his specialist areas include conflict, humanitarian, security and intelligence issues, especially in the Arab and Islamic world and sub-Saharan Africa. He is a Contributing Editor to CABLE and at the Herald/Sunday Herald. He is on Twitter at: @foreigncorr1
Feature image: A young woman from the indigenous Embera people with traditional markings and dress, deep in the rainforest of the Choco region in Colombia (2014).
All images in this feature: © David Pratt.