So we have Easter coming up and as you all you know it is the festival of Easter eggs and other sweets. It is also, or rather primarily, the festival that celebrates the resurrection of Christ. Janine di Giovanni couldn’t have put it better when she said ‘Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life.’ And where in this country, where you don’t hear much of Easter being celebrated on a grand scale, do you go to celebrate this beautiful festival and feel the true essence of it? As always, let us help you with that:
A Mass and procession takes place in every church in Goa but the biggest celebration takes place in the Panjim Church of Mary Immaculate Conception. Hundreds of devout Goan Catholics gather, crowd the church, stand in the doorways and in the premises to listen to mass. During the afternoon sermon, the priests narrate the sufferings that Christ took upon himself for the sake of humanity. The Mass is in Konkani and people dress formally. After Mass, the cross, which has been kept from view until now, is revealed for veneration. ‘The Way Of The Cross’ is a re-enactment of the path Christ took on Mount Cavalry before the Crucifixion. The wooden cross borne by an image of Jesus is carried by the clergymen from the church through the streets of Panjim, while the solemnly mourning crowd follows in two parallel lines to the accompaniment of a band playing sombre music. The procession meanders through the streets of Panjim before heading back to the church.
2. Northeast India:
Over 5.3 million Christians live in the 7 sister states of Northeast India, namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipal, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland. Easter is celebrated in the churches here with special prayers and worship programs. The great Vigil of Easter, also known as the Paschal Vigil, is also observed in most churches here that begins at sunset on Holy Saturday and goes through until sunrise on Easter Sunday. Members of the Catholic Church break their wee-long fast to celebrate the resurrection of Christ while the Salvation Army band party plays ‘He’s Risen’ in Aizawl, Kohima and several other places in the Northeast. In some places, devotees dress as Christ and volunteer to enact his sufferings on the cross.
Easter in Kerala is celebrated with a lot of zeal and staidness. Easter in Kerala is marked by four distinct periods commencing with Lent, the 40 preparatory days of fasting and penance for the resurrection of Christ. This is followed by the Holy Week consisting of Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday follows. The third period is observed as the Octave of Easter or the period of traditional Baptism and finally Easter or the Paschal season which extends over 40 days more. The faithful congregate in large numbers for midnight Easter mass in churches across the state, where senior prelates and vicars give out messages of renewed hope and promise as symbolised by the sacrifice of Christ for the redemption of God’s creations.
Easter in Andhra Pradesh is celebrated with a lot of traditional enthusiasm and religious fervour. After maintaining Easter Vigil, thousands of devotees celebrate the resurrection of Christ at the break of dawn. Songs are sung in the praise of Christ. Young people take out colourful processions, all over the state, with tableaux highlighting the glorious events relating to the Lord. They burst firecrackers as well, as part of the celebrations to mark the transition from death to life. The faithful later throng their respective churches and offer special prayers for world peace. Sweets, cakes and savouries are distributed.
Here, Easter celebrations are rarely ever taken to the streets. The Mass and prayers are confined to the churches, while malls in Mumbai don a look of gaiety and provide special offers, discounts and the sale of Easter related items. They also plan fun activities for kids and families. For a traditional Easter feast, one could always go to the various hotels such as the Four Seasons and Grand Hyatt and restaurants in Mumbai that offer a special cuisine, buffets and sweets such as the chocolate and marzipan eggs. They also organise Easter parties and egg hunts.
This is supposed to be the most important festival of the Christian calendar and no matter how you celebrate it, it is important to observe or at least emphasise the significance of this festival in some way. I mean, we don’t hold back from celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve, so why this? It symbolises hope and the renewal of faith and the best way to celebrate this festival would be to take some time and indulge in a little prayer, faith and love; a little more than everyday.