Lalish Temple—the Yazidi pilgrimage
The Yazidi are a Kurdish religious group who represent an ancient religious sect. The term Yazidism, Azda or Ezi in the Kurdish Language means “God worshipper”. Their population exceeds 75 000, with most living in Iraq—primarily in Mosul province in northern Iraq—and groups in a number of other countries including Germany, Georgia, Syria, Turkey and the US, which is home to a very small population. The Yazidi believe in God as the creator of the world, which he placed in the care of seven angels.
Most of the Yazidis in the Kurdistan region live in districts like Shingal, Bashik and Bahzan near Mosul province, and Khanke, Sharya, Baadre and Shekhan near Duhok province. The Yazidi pilgrimage is to Lalish, which is situated 14 km from the centre of the Shekhan district. According to Yazidi mythology, Lalish, which means “Divine Highness”, is the most ancient place in the world. The temple there contains symbols that date back to ancient eras. It was renovated and rebuilt by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) after it was destroyed by military campaigns. Yazidis from all over the world come to the Lalish temple to practice their rituals in a spirit of brotherhood. The Yazidi perform their cults twice a year: the Wednesday feast on the second day of August, and the gathering feast on 6-13 October. During the latter feast, they perform their rituals for seven days in Lalish temple. During the gathering feast, many non-Yazidi people pay visits to Lalish temple to observe their rituals, traditions and culture, and the temple is very crowded during the seven days of rituals. All pilgrims who come to the temple must be barefoot, according to the sect's rules, and must purify themselves before coming to the temple. Many people arrive on the first day to secure a comfortable place to stay before the temple site becomes crowded. In terms of praying, the Yazidi have five daily prayers—at dawn, sunrise, in the afternoon, at sun- set and in the evening—but the main prayers are three: the morning, sunset and evening prayers in which the worshipper takes the sun as an osculation and washes their hands and faces before praying. At dawn and sunrise, they turn their faces toward the East; at afternoon prayer, they turn toward the South; at sunset, the prayer turns their face toward the West; and in the evening, they perform their prayer in bed. The Yazidi have three fasts, which are fixed, unlike Islam whose period of fasting changes depending on the moon. The period of fasting starts on the first Tuesday after December 12 every year, and Yazidis abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk between Tuesday and Friday. On feast days, they slaughter a sheep and distribute it to their neighbours. The Yazidis have seven holy festivals: the New year feast, the Fasting feast, the winter and summer feasts, the feast of Khidir Alyas, a holy figure, the Gathering feast and Bairam or the great feast. The main pillars of Yazidiism are truth, which entails telling the truth, benefaction and good deeds, and knowledge, which means knowing God, people and science.
This photo was taking by the photographer, Thamer Alyas. It shows one of the Yazidi ceremonies at Lalish temple