AP PHOTOS: A month of holy days and festivals, amid pandemic

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Worshippers burned aromatic incense sticks beneath red and yellow paper lanterns to celebrate the Lunar New Year outside a famed Taoist temple in Hong Kong. A holy man lay on the ground before an image…

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Worshippers burned aromatic incense sticks beneath red and yellow paper lanterns to celebrate the Lunar New Year outside a famed Taoist temple in Hong Kong.

A holy man lay on the ground before an image of the Hindu goddess of learning during the Magh Mela festival in Prayagraj, India, where ritual bathing in the sacred confluence of rivers can cleanse one’s sins.

And a churchgoer in Mexico City cradled a figure of the Christ child in his arms while waiting in a chapel pew to have it blessed on the Roman Catholic feast of Candlemas, commemorating the presentation of Jesus Christ into the Temple.

February was a month full of religious holidays and festivals for all manner of faith traditions, as captured by AP photographers around the globe.

On the Catholic holy day of Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent, everyone from a uniformed New York police officer to Mass attendees at St. Joseph Cathedral in Hyderabad, India, could be seen with not only the traditional cross-shaped smudges on their foreheads but also face masks.

Others donned full-body protective gear, such as the Jewish burial society workers who prepared the corpse of a COVID-19 victim for funeral in Jerusalem, or the Rhode Island field hospital employee who took a moment away from her duties to pray for a sick grandfather far away in Puerto Rico.

Elsewhere the pandemic’s impact manifested itself in absence: In Belgrade, Patriarch Porfirije, the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, celebrated the Divine Liturgy surrounded by clergy in an ornate chamber after his predecessor, Patriarch Irinej, died in November of complications from the virus.

These and more are among the AP’s top faith-related images from February.

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Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

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