17 April, 2019
We have had a spate of festivals starting from Ugadi, Puthandu, Vishu, Naba Barsha, Baisakhi, and Bihu and so on. This weekend kicks in another celebration, Easter – one of the most significant in the Christian calendar. Easter always falls on a Sunday, following Good Friday, and this year it falls on 21st Apr 2019. Christians the world over celebrate Easter with pomp, zeal, and gaiety.
In India too, the Christian fraternity looks forward to this day, as a day of happiness, and family get-togethers. The spirit of Christmas and Easter is always seen throughout the country, and people wish each other. In certain parts like Goa, the celebrations are huge, and everyone takes part in it. It also becomes a tourism event, as many people travel to Goa during the time because it is always a long weekend, starting from the Good Friday.
In many ways, the wait for Easter starts 40 days earlier, when Lent starts from the Ash Wednesday. In the earlier days, this was observed as a fasting and self-denial period for Christians to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who was crucified for the good of humanity. While the orthodox and devout Christians still observe fasting, most others refrain from eating meat. Eggs and dairy products are also given up by some. While the Lent rituals vary across the various Christian sects, most follow it as a period of prayers and self-healing, in honor of the Lord Jesus Christ.
According to the gospels, Jesus Christ was betrayed by his disciple Judas, tried, and then crucified. Jesus was left agonizing on the cross to die. Hence, Christians spend this day in prayers and grief, as the day of death of Jesus Christ. Special masses are held in Churches across the country on this day. The father reads out the Seven Last Words of Jesus from the gospel. The most notable one being, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” Good Friday is usually a public holiday across India.
After two days of grieving for Jesus Christ, the following Sunday marks a day of celebration as it brings news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians the world over celebrate the day on which Jesus Christ came back from death to save the world. His resurrection proved that he was a true son of God, who defeated evil and hence the day marks celebrations.
On Easter day, Christians dress up in their best and attend Church services and the day is celebrated by greeting each other. After attending Easter prayers, people gather at the homes of friends and families for a sumptuous lunch. Easter eggs are given as gifts, following a Western tradition. These have been followed from the times of the British and the Portuguese in India.
In a few states like Goa and the North East, celebrations abound with songs, dances, parties, and carnivals galore. Easter cakes are baked, and they even exchange colorful lanterns to commemorate the day.
One of the grandest Easter celebrations in India is held at the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Panjim, Goa. What is unique about this celebration is the ‘Way of the Cross’ ceremony that is performed here, apart from the regular service held in all Churches. During this ceremony, a life-size wooden cross along with a picture of Christ is carried, and devotees attend this to mark the celebrations.
Easter cuisine changes from region to region in India, due to its regional and cultural diversity. Lavish lunches and dinners are common with various special dishes being cooked for the occasion. Marzipan Easter Eggs, Wine, Chicken curry, Pork Curry, Eater Bunny Bread, Easter Mutton soup, Prawn dishes, and many other baked dishes are common across the country. Considering that the people would have abstained from meat for 40 days, this day marks a sumptuous feast that they can relish and eat with joy.
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