These photos were shot during a Hasidic Kaparot ceremony in Williamsburg, New York. The older men and women were teaching the children, who tended to the chickens, how the ceremony was performed. Kaparot, meaning 'atonements', is a ritual deemed by those who practise it as a transfer of the sins of the past year on to the chicken. The chicken is swung overhead three times as prayers are recited.
The photo below was selected to be published by National Geographic online here, chosen by National Geographic photographer Randy Olson.
After the ceremony, the chicken is ritually slaughtered and often the meat is distributed to the poor. The ceremony is very controversial with other Jewish movement and animal rights groups. PETA was present in Williamsburg attempting to dissuade against the use of chickens by giving out money, which is sometimes used as a substitute.
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