Festival Of Easter
Easter is the most important and the oldest festival of the Christian Church. It celebrates the resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ and is held between the 21st of March and 25th of April, on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the period of Equinox. Easter and the holidays related to it, do not fall on fixed days as per the Gregorian calendar which follows the cycle of the sun, but is determined by a lunisolar calendar.
This year Easter Sunday will fall on the 1st of April 2018.
Also called Resurrection Sunday, the New Testament (Holy Scriptures) describes the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, as having occurred on the third day of his burial, after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary. Easter is preceded by the period of Lent which is a 40 day period of prayer, penance and fasting for Christians. The week before Easter Sunday is termed as the Holy Week and includes the days of Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday/ Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Palm Sunday marks the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem after his capture and began his journey to the cross. The crowds present there then had shouted praises and waved palm branches and laid them on the ground before him. To commemorate this moment, it has become customary to have a blessing of palm leaves, after which there is a procession or solemn entry into the church with the congregation holding the blessed palms in their hands, symbolizing his onward journey to the cross. This is followed by a Mass or prayer service which includes the reading of the Passion, a recount of Jesus’ capture, suffering and death as per the scriptures.
The Christian community observes certain rituals on the days between Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday to venerate certain events that took place with Jesus during the last days of his life. It is believed that it was on a Wednesday that Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples had arranged his betrayal of the Lord with the high priests and thus the term ‘Spy Wednesday’ came into being.
Maundy Thursday is the day we honour the memory of Jesus having his final Passover meal or The Last Supper with his disciples, where he washes their feet and commands them to love one another just as he loved them, despite their sins. The word ‘Maundy’ is a shortened version of the latin word ‘mandatum’ which means ‘command’. During the meal, Jesus had predicted the events that were to immediately follow – his betrayal, denial by Peter who was another of his apostles/ disciples, his death and resurrection. The Church celebrates the rite of washing of the feet with the priest symbolically washing the feet of about 12 people from the congregation representing the disciples.
Good Friday, a day of great significance for Christians, commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ in a very solemn and mournful manner. It was on this day that Jesus was tortured, nailed to the cross and gave up his life for the sins of mankind. Christians all over the world, observe this day with prayer, fasting and an extended Church service which recounts the Passion of Christ. Stations of the cross are held in the Church on that day which take you through the journey and life of Christ.
In some countries in the West, processions are taken through the streets, with someone enacting Jesus carrying a huge cross and playing out the passion of Christ.
Holy Saturday is the day between the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. According to the Gospel, Jesus was hurriedly buried in a cave tomb after his crucifixion, as the approaching Sabbath day, a day declared for rest, would prevent people from completing the burial procedures. The proper procedure of embalming the body and completing the burial procedures were intended to be completed after the Sabbath. In the meantime, followers of Christ sat by the side of the tomb, mourning his death and waiting for him to resurrect. On Holy Saturday, no Mass is conducted during the day, but members of the Church gather together in prayer and fasting, meditating on the passion of Christ, his death, his descent into hell and await his resurrection.
It is only after sundown, that the Church holds an Easter Vigil service. This is one of the longest and most solemn/ sober liturgical services held where symobolically, the service starts in darkness and then candles are lit from the main Paschal candle (a special large, white candle which is blessed and lit at Easter and used for only special occasions of baptism and funerals) indicating the resurrection of Christ and new life. This is the first Mass of Easter Day.
Easter Sunday, which concludes the Holy week and begins with the Easter Vigil Service is a day of rejoicing and celebration of the resurrection of Christ. It is a great feast day. Marking the joyous occasion of the resurrection of Christ and new life, special marzipan eggs prepared on this day have come to be synonymous with Easter. However, today one can find all variations of Easter eggs. Certain customs followed by both Christians as well as non-Christians is Egg Hunting, the Easter Bunny and Easter parades. Traditional Easter foods of Simnel cakes, hot cross buns and many other delicacies are prepared which vary in different regions.
AbhiBus takes this opportunity to wish all its Christian patrons A Very Happy and Joyous Easter!
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