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Thaipusam Festival 11
Penang
By Kevin Quinn
02 Feb 2015

Devotees during the festival of Thaipusam climb over 500 stairs- some bearing pots of milk as an offering- to the Thannirmalai Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple in Penang, Malaysia

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Thaipusam Festival 12
Penang
By Kevin Quinn
02 Feb 2015

Thaipusam festival Kavadi bearer with his cheeks pierced as a form of offering and penance.

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Thaipusam Festival 13
Penang
By Kevin Quinn
02 Feb 2015

A young devotee at the festival Thaipusam on the island of Penang, Malaysia

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Thaipusam Festival 14
Penang
By Kevin Quinn
02 Feb 2015

A boy gets his head shaved as a sign of devotion before a pilgrimage to the Thannirmalai Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple during the festival Thaipusam on the island of Penang, Malaysia

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Thaipusam 02
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
31 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 05
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
31 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 09
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 10
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 11
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 12
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 13
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 14
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 15
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 16
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 17
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 18
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 19
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 20
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 01
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 03
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

This is a set of pictures showing Hindu devotee at the hardest part of pilgrimage, the 272 steps to reach the sacred Batu Caves temple to place their kavadi at the feet of the deity statue.

Hindu devotees climb the stairs to reach the temple cave during Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfilled their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burden) to Lord Murugan. They will make an arduous climbing up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposited at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 04
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 06
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 07
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Thaipusam 08
Batu Caves, Malaysia
By Ahmad Yusni Mohammad Said
29 Jan 2015

Thousands of Hindus gather to participate in the annual Thaipusam festival of penance honouring Lord Murugan. During Thaipusam day, devotees will fulfill their vows by carrying 'kavadi' (burdens) to Lord Murugan. They make an arduous climb up the 272 steps leading up to the temple cave and deposit their 'kavadi' at the feet of the Lord Murugan to purify themselves.

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Uloq: Uzbekistan's Ancient Extreme Sport
Ertosh, Uzbekistan
By TTM Contributor 100
28 Jan 2015

Photos by Umida Akhmedova

Uloq is the Uzbek version of the famous Asian Buzkashi game. This tradition was spread in Central Asia and Afghanistan by Mongols with their cult of horsemen. The rules are simple: riders compete for a carcass of a goat or a young ram. The winner has to cross the finish line on horseback without allowing other riders to rob him of his prey. Like Buzkashi, Uloq is an extremely dangerous sport: 100 or more horsemen usually fight for a one carcass. Major Uloq games are usually held in the spring or autumn, when the Central Asian peoples traditionally celebrate their weddings, and is often played before the arrival of their main Spring festival, Nowruz. The official Uloq Federation of Uzbekistan conducts frequent tournements and competitions, bringing together up to 500 riders and thousands of spectators to watch the fast, intense sport.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

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Uloq in Uzbekistan 01
Ertosh, Uzbekistan
By TTM Contributor 100
28 Jan 2015

Riders from all the surrounding villages take part in an Uloq competition in Ertosh. Participating in Uloq competitions is considered a good way to demonstrate mens' strength to women.

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Slovakia's Good Luck Fish Dish
Trnava
By danubestory
20 Dec 2014

In general, people in Slovakia are not used to eating fish, but around the winter holidays, Slovakians and other eastern Europeans enjoy a local specialty: fried horse-shoe shaped slices of carp served with a mayonnaise potato salad. The horse-shoe shape is viewed as a sign of good luck. The carp are bred in special ponds and then are distributed to specialist shops in all the towns and villages before the holidays. Many Slovakians keep the fish alive in their bath tubs before preparing the traditional meal.

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Laughing at Death: Europe's Happiest ...
Sapanta
By danubestory
04 Dec 2014

While the lives of Sapanta residents is marked by the rhythm of horse-drawn ploughs, of looms spinning wool into rough blankets and cloth for clothes, and the distilling of 'tuica' (TSUI-ka), a potent local fruit liquor; their deaths are marked with color and humor.

In this northern Romanian village, the “Merry Cemetery” brings smiles or cheeky grins to the faces of visitors and locals there to pay their respects to the dead. Colorfully painted, handed-crafted oak tombstones tell the stories of the lives and deaths of the deceased in a humorous, brutally honest tone. The “Merry Cemetery” in Sapanta is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and draws thousands of tourists every year.

The tradition started when a local woodworker named Stan Ioan Patras carved and painted the first tombstone in 1935, gracing it with a lighthearted epitaph that he came up with to commemorate the death of a neighbor. After his death in 1977, woodworker, painter, poet and farmer Dumitru Pop took residence in his workshop and kept the tradition alive. When a member of the community dies, he goes to work coming up with an (often hilarious) epitaph that best represents the deceased, carving a playful scene and painting the tombstone in bright blues, reds, greens and earthtones. Mr. Pop’s background in classical and contemporary Romanian literature gives his epitaphs a resonance that goes deep into the village’s collective memory.

Some ethnologists studying the cemetery believe that the lighthearted and humorous attitude towards death in this region may be a remnant of Dacian culture. Early inhabitants of Romania, the Dacians greeted death with open arms because it meant meeting the greatest of their gods, Zalmoxis. As in many cultures, certain attitudes and practices were easily integrated into monotheistic worldviews that came later, in this case Orthodox Christianity. According to a local Orthodox priest, people in the region do not necessarily see death as if it were a tragedy, but rather as a passage to another life.

The practice even survived Romania’s communist era despite Soviet communism’s largely atheistic and secular worldview. A grave marker commemorating Ioan Holdis, a local Communist official reads:

“As long as I lived, I loved the Party And all my life I tried to help the people.”

However, the best loved epitaphs are the funniest, the ones that make mourning and remembering the dead a hilarious affair:

“Under this heavy cross Lies my poor mother in-law Three more days she would have lived
I would lie, and she would read (this cross).
You, who here are passing by
Not to wake her up please try
Cause' if she comes back home
She'll criticize me more.
But I will surely behave
So she'll not return from grave.
Stay here, my dear mother in-law!”

Shot list and Subtitles

(00:05 – 00:11) W/S In a small village in Romania, a cemetery makes people smile. (00:12 -00:17) D/M Cheerful, colourful tombstones tell the stories of people who lived in the village of Sapanta in country’s north. (00:18 – 00:23) D/S The unconventional way of commemorating the deceased cheerfully and honestly shows death as an inevitability. (00:24 – 00:29) D/S Gravestones here tell of the persons virtues but tell the truth about their vices. (00:30 – 00:35) W/S The “Merry Cemetery” was declared as a UNESCO site, (00:36 – 00:41) W/S one of the reasons Sapanta is among the most visited Romanian villages. (00:42 – 00:47) W/S A church in the middle of the cemetery solemnly venerates the saints (00:48 – 00:53) D/S But common mortals may be humorous. (00:54 – 00:59) M/M Thanks to vibrant illustrations, visitors understand the stories of people from the village even if they don’t read Romanian. (01:00 – 01:05) M/S “Here lies the good tractor operator.” (01:06 – 01:11) D/S “Here the hardworking farmer rests in peace.” (01:12 – 01:17) M/M This person died in a car accident. (01:18 – 01:23) D/S “Father and son.” (01:24 – 01:29) D/S “A man drowned in the river.” (01:30 – 01:35) M/S The first painted wooden cross was made here in 1935. (01:36 – 01:41) M/M This humorous way of commemorating the dead was the idea of local woodworker Stan Ioan Patras. (01:42 – 01:47) W/M He lived and worked on his carvings in this house near the cemetery. (01:48 – 01:53) M/S He even carved naive portraits of Romanian communist dictator Ceausescu and his government (01:54 – 01:59) M/S and of notable townsmen. (02:00 – 02:05) W/M The workshop has bustled with activity and honest humor ever since. After Patras’ death in 1977, Dumitru Pop took over the workshop. (02:06 – 02:11) W/S Locals believe that humorous verses are the best way to remember their loved ones. (02:18 – 02:23) But they are not allowed to tell Dumitru what shall he write. (02:24 – 02:29) D/S Each wooden is crafted precisely by hand.. (02:30 – 02:35) D/S They are all made from local oak (02:36 – 02:41) M/S and painted with vivid colours. The main color is blue, the color of heaven, where the living strive to end up. (02:42 – 02:47) M/S Dumitru says that the epitaphs are all true stories. (02:48 – 02:53) D/S Perhaps death is easier, knowing that his learned hands will make a cheerful tombstone in ones commemoration. (02:54 – 02:59) D/S “Busy housewives but also mischiefs are waiting for them.” (03:00 – 03:05) D/S On the tombstone of a distiller the epitaph reads: “Everybody in Sapanta loved me, as I produced elixir of life.

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Chinese marriage 14
Guangdong
By Phil Behan
28 Nov 2014

A chauffeur driven car awaits the arrival of the wedding party in Dongsheng Town. Luxury cars line old Chinese villages on wedding days to take guests from the couple's homes to the wedding dinner venue. 20 years ago it would have been a sight to even see a car in these parts of China, let alone a luxury Mercedes.

Dongsheng Town, Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province China.

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Chinese marriage 15
Guangdong
By Phil Behan
28 Nov 2014

Wu Yongyi getting her make up done for her wedding. The bride must rise early on the day of the wedding and can end up spending long periods of time in her bedroom until the groom arrives to take her to his house.

Young women in China face many pressures from their family, like finding a potential husband and also starting a family. These are very traditional values held within China and often put pressure on young women who wish to travel and explore life further before settling down.

Dongsheng Town. Zhongshan City. Guangdong Province China.

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Chinese marriage 18
Guangdong
By Phil Behan
28 Nov 2014

The bridal party are attacked with silly string as the initiation ceremony begins in Dongsheng Town, Zhongshan City. Guangdong Province China.Games and initiations for the groom and his party make up a huge part of any Chinese Wedding ceremony. On the morning of the wedding the groom and his party must prove their worth before the bride will be presented to the groom from her bedroom. Examples of such initiations and games include eating Wasabi sauce or bird food from the floor while doing press ups, getting sprayed with silly string or drinking coke laced with soy sauce.. In modern Chinese society these games and initiations are becoming slightly more rumbustious as Chinese youths are now drawing some influence from Western Society and more traditional practices particularly in larger cities become less prevalent.

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Chinese marriage 8
Guangdong
By Phil Behan
28 Nov 2014

Wu Yongyi follows the instructions of the women on the right, who is known in China as a Meiren. Her father holds a red lucky umbrella over their heads in a wedding ceremony in Dongshen Town, Zhongshan City. Guangdong Province China.

The Meiren or Medium goes to the bride's house on the morning of the wedding and officially starts the ceremony. The Meiren is considered the link between the bride, the wedding party, and the spiritual world. On the wedding day, the Meiren will ask the gods and ancestors of the family for their blessing. She will also instruct the bride to follow the processes that are considered good luck, directing the bride and holding her hand throughout the ceremony.

In modern day China, weddings are becoming much more extravagant and Westernized. Many families will not use or require a Meiren as the idea of a spiritual connection becomes forgotten. However, in small villages the traditions of old are still deeply rooted in each ceremony.

Dongshen Town, Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province, China.

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Sarabdek 02
Pamir Mountains
By karolinasamborska
21 Nov 2014

Dust rises above the village. The Pamir Mountains are a snowless desert. For Europeans dust is associated with the scorching sweltering summer, cracked earth parched by the sun. Here it is dusty all the time until the first snow falls.

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Sarabdek 03
Pamir Mountains
By karolinasamborska
21 Nov 2014

A calm afternoon in the village. Women sit in front of their houses. Here, houses are built with stones and clay mixed with straw. A roof is the most expensive part of a house as people need to import wood from Kirgizstan. During soviet times, it was not so expensive as it is now as it was imported from Siberia.

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Tajik Women 01
Roshorv, Tajikistan
By karolinasamborska
21 Nov 2014

Gulguna is having her lunch, shir tchai with her neighbors in the winter room.

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Tajik Women 17
Roshorv, Tajikistan
By karolinasamborska
21 Nov 2014

Her daughter is serving a tea. Odinamo spent all her life in Roshorv. She is the mother of 9 children. Two daughters still live with them. She also takes care of her two grandchildren as their parents work in Khorog, a 7 hour drive away. Her older grandson helps her with grazing her herd.

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Sarabdek 01
Pamir Mountains
By karolinasamborska
20 Nov 2014

Sarabdek looks at his village. Roshorv is beautifully located village on a high mountain plateau. It is the biggest village in the Bartang Valley. 3 000 people live there in 165 houses. People came here 4 or 5 centuries ago from a village located below Yapshorv, which was slowly eroded away by the roaring Bartang River. Previously, there was only alpine pasture.

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Tajik Women 04
Roshorv, Tajikistan
By karolinasamborska
19 Nov 2014

She does her homework after school. Behind, her mum prepares bread for dinner. Lessons in primary school are mixed. Ismailis do not have a madrasa, the Koranic school. At school, she learns Russian and Tajik. She will start learning English at secondary school. In the Bartang Valley, people speak their own Rushan language. It is spoken, not written. Two valleys futher to the south is the Wakhan Corridor, but Bartangi and Wakhani peoples can’t understand each other.