By Shannon Lane @shannonroselane

IN THE ancient Lhasa City surrounding the Jokhang Temple, Tibet, Buddhists of all ages lie face down, bodies outstretched, to express their devotion to their faith

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Photographer Marco Giovanelli travelled to Tibet to witness pilgrims of all ages expressing their faith at the Jokhang Temple

Called prostration, this Buddhist gesture is used to show one’s loyalty to the Buddha, his teachings and the spiritual community - known as the ‘The Triple Gem’.

It is believed the energy of the prayers and sacred mantras on the multicoloured flags will bring all good things to all who see them

Photographer Marco Giovanelli travelled to Tibet in April 2016 to capture the pilgrims during their daily prayers around Barkhor Street, and the famous Potala Palace - the primary residence of the Dalai Lama until 1959.

The Buddhist pilgrims prostrate at the entrance of the Jokhang Temple till dusk

He said: “Those two places are the most important pilgrim circuits in Lhasa. Here many pilgrims hold the prayer wheels and walk about 1km clockwise, from dawn to dark.

Many pilgrims are prepared for the lengthy prostrations with gloves, mats and cushions

“In many cases they repeatedly stretch themselves completely on the ground and touch their hands to the foreheads (representing the mind), mouths (speech) and chest (body) each time.

Enlightenment: Hand - held prayer wheels are used to accumulate wisdom and to purify negativities

“Pilgrims who repeatedly prostrate themselves while making the circuit, take one step, make a Tibetan prayer gesture, raise their hands in prayer, and lay down on the ground, their arms extended in front of them. Then they stand up and place their feet where their fingertips had just touched and repeat the process again.”

Prayer beads are used to keep count of the times a mantra is recited, breaths while meditating, counting prostrations, or the repetitions of a buddha's name

Pilgrims who travel far to the holy temples occasionally even prostrate the entire distance, covering the arduous journey in a series of prostrations.

Pilgrims travel from afar to reach this holy temple in order to pray

Giovanelli said: “Tibetans ideally are expected to prostrate themselves 100,000 times a year, which works out to almost 300 times a day, every day of the year.”

In this holy place, everyone is equal; Buddhists of all ages and abilities prostrate.

Many of the Buddhists in this holy area are either prostrating or holding a prayer wheel

The Italian photographer said: “I saw very elderly pilgrims performing prostration without using any pillows or other aids, and I also saw people without legs doing the same.

Giovanelli said: "There was a strong spiritual atmosphere and you could breathe a great sense of solidarity."

“The way they express their piety to their belief helps you understand the holiness of this religion.”