Prayers, Pilgrims, and Parties

Every May gypsies from all over the world descend on the small French costal town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to take part in a huge gypsy pilgrimage, the event is part religious event, part tourist phenomenon.

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Jul 3 2013, 12:00am

Isabella Moore is a Sydney photographer currently based in Paris. She took the photos you're about to see at the pilgrimage of Saint Sara, patron saint of the Romani people. Every May, Roma from all over the world descend on the small French costal town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for what Isabella describes as, "part religious event, part tourist phenomenon". She followed the revellers, documenting the contrast of modern-day Gypsies and the countless tourist-carrying hippie vans which pour into the town each year.

The procession involves everything from white stallions, dancing pilgrims, and waves of flamenco and jazz musicians; all following the statuette of Saint Sara through town and to the water's edge. There everyone joins in a “ritual bath” in the ocean. Once the procession is done the participants celebrate the affirmation of faith and culture in the best possible way—partying hard all night long. 

More photos of people from around the world:

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Gypsy children and French tourists enjoy the beach.

Believers of Saint Sara (the gypsies patron saint) carry the cross down to the ocean's edge.

A Father comes with his daughter to the procession. Children are often brought to this ceremony in order to be baptised in the same water Saint Sara is lowered down into.

Gypsies carry Saint Sara back up from the ocean's edge to take her to the church.

Onlookers watch the procession, Saintes Maries de la Mer.

Gypsy men carry the sacred cross and emblems for Saint Sara.

Onlookers watch the procession, Saintes Maries de la Mer.

A girl in traditional Gypsy dress walks in the procession.

Gypsy Girl, Saintes Maries de La Mer.

German gypsy girl, Saintes Maries de La Mer.

A gypsy family from Avignon, France pose for a photograph at the beach.

Gypsy children and French tourists enjoy the beach.

Gyspy girls, pose 'fashion styles' for the photograph, Saintes Maries de La Mer.

Sign seen at Saintes Maries de La Mer.

French Tourists grab some sun before heading home to their towns.

A French tourist grabs some sun before heading home to his town.

A gypsy family at Saintes Maries de la Mer.

A gypsy caravan parked beside the beach.

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