With great religious fervor are celebrated the twin events of Good Friday, the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified and three days later, Easter which marks his resurrection from the grave, by different sects of Christianity in Lake City.
Christians start preparing for Good Friday, forty days in advance with Ash Wednesday when evening prayers are held in which a large number of Christians participate. It is interesting to learn how the forty days of fasting are determined. First of all, the day of Good Friday is worked out. The Friday that follows the full moon after March 21st is observed as Good Friday. The Sunday that precedes Good Friday is taken as the last day of the forty-day fasting. This Sunday is called Palm Sunday.
In Christianity ash is considered to be a symbol of repentence for sins. In olden times, for repentence a sinner used to wear coarse cloth and put ashes on his head. Hence the name Ash Wednesday. Christians fast voluntarily and with great reverence without any show. The Bible describes how one should fast and with what feelings. One should not have a sad look on the face that might attract the attention of others. During fasting one is to focus one’s attention wholly on God as it is one of the best ways to seek his blessings. People give up non-vegetarian food and drinks and pray for a long time, especially in the evenings as it also promotes a healthy way of life. The practice of fasting is an outcome of a belief that a healthy spirit is more likely to manifest itself in a healthy body. In fact, it is an invitation to self-transcendence. Another practice that is recommended for these forty days is charity and almsgiving. “Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things, and love our neighbours as ourselves for the love of God”, says the catechism of the Catholic Church. Charitable acts include simple deeds of giving, including alms giving, caring for deprived ones, helping the needy and assisting the less privileged. As also instructing, advising, consoling, comforting, forgiving, loving, sacrificing and being patient.
Churches are decorated with twigs of palm tree on the Sunday preceding Good Friday that is called Palm Sunday. Carrying crosses made with palm twigs, children in large number reach churches. Songs in praise of Jesus Christ are sung. On this day, Jesus entered the city of Yerusalem with his disciples. He was welcomed by the local people who spread their clothes and twigs on the road.
Artistically designed crosses made with palm twigs are distributed by the reverend Fathers. Passion Week is celebrated the following week and evening services are held.
Good Friday reminds us of the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the liberation of mankind. Christians fast for the whole day on this occasion till after the common prayer in the evening. There are thirteen stages in the crucification journey of Jesus Christ in each one of which there are prayers for the welfare of every section of the society.
During the whole of his life Jesus had not committed any sin. Due to his dedicated and pure life, he had become very popular among the masses. This made the religious leaders and rulers very jealous. They tried hard to defame him. He was born in a small village Bethelem, in Israel. The ruler of the place made every effort to kill him but did not succeed. When he grew up, he travelled from one place to another to give the message of love and humanity to mankind. He said that those who spread blind faith in the name of religion were enemies of mankind. Disturbed by his teachings religious leaders accused him of blasphemy, disobedience and conspiracy against the king. Pressurised by these people, the Roman ruler sentenced Jesus to death. Jesus was badly humiliated and tourtured in several ways before being cruelly nailed on a cross. Inspite of all this Jesus asked the Lord to pardon his persecutors as they did not know what they were doing. He surrendered his soul to the Lord. In memory of what great good Jesus did for humanity, this day is called Good Friday.
On the Sunday after Good Friday is celebrated Easter with great enthusiasm and gaiety in all the churches of the town. According to the Bible, Jesus was cremated in a grave in a rock that was covered with a heavy stone. The ruler ordered that the grave should be properly guarded by a large number of Roman soldiers. According to a custom that was prevalent at that time, some women who had seen the crucification of Christ, went to the grave with scented liquid on the third day after Good Friday. They turned over the stone that had covered the grave. There was no one in the grave. There some angels dressed in bright and white clothes told them that Christ was still alive. The women gave this information to the disciples of Christ and others. When these people reached the grave they found it empty. After resurrection, Christ met his disciples and others and addressed them saying ‘Shamol’ which means ‘peace be with you’. In Israel, even today people greet each other with ‘Shalom’. For forty days, Jesus gave people the teachings of the Bible and then returned to heaven.
The day on which Jesus Christ won over death is celebrated as Easter. A new light is lit on Saturday to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This light symbolizes the victory of good over evil and the prevalence of truth in the world.
Easter Sunday is an occasion for a big celebration in Udaipur when joy prevails everywhere in churches and homes. The service in Churches on this day is simple and done with deep devotion and humility. Easter celebrations in Udaipur start with sunrise service at Shepherd Memorial Church. A rally that start from Chetak Circle passes through M.B. Hospital Road and Court Chouraha and returns to the Church. A large number of Christians with candles in their hands join the rally. During the rally songs such as Zinda Hai Hamara Prabhu, Jai Jai Yeshu and Mritru Par Jai are sung.
There are celebrations in the different chrches in the town such as Shepherd Memorial Church, Our Lady of Fatima Cathedral, Sardarpura, Rajasthan Penticoastal, Church at Rani Road, Calvary Convent Church, Govindnagar, and Saint Gregorius Church, 100 ft. road. In the morning service the Bishops tells the congregation that God is always there to fulfill the needs of people. One has to have a feelings of complete surrender to the Lord. After the service people greet each other warmly and eat together. Some foreign tourists also take part in the festival enthusiastically.
Easter is celebrated in Christian homes with great enthusiasm. Games like egg rolling , egg tapping and pace egging are played. At homes there are festivities and singing till late light. Gifts are also exchanged. Easter eggs which are usually chocolate eggs or real eggs with a painted shell are relished. There are Easter ‘melas’ near several churches with food stalls and provision for entertainment. The three-day event that begins with a sad note on Good Friday has a joyous ending on Easter Sunday.