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Australia, Mandaean Baptism Ceremony

These images are of a Mandaean baptism ceremony on the shores of the Nepean river in Penrith, New South Wales, Australia.

Mandaeans are followers of John the Baptist. It is an ancient religion and they gather at the river to be cleansed of their sins, a baptism of sorts. They dress in white “rastas” which symbolize purity and during the ceremony they cannot speak or touch anyone else until the baptism is over. They are immersed, take a gulp of water and have a sprig of myrtle tucked under their headscarf by the priest who recites prayers in Mandaic, a dialect of Aramic.
Traditionally Mandaeans lived in what is now Iran and Iraq and were known as goldsmiths. They have always been persecuted as infidels by Muslims and tensions rose greatly after 2003 during the Iraq war. This prompted a Diaspora, with Mandaeans fleeing to other countries. Around 8000 now live in Australia, one of the largest communities.
Unless you are born Mandaean, you cannot be Mandaean, there is no conversion. This puts a large question mark on their future as they can only marry within their own ranks.

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