Kochi/Mumbai/Chennai/Goa [India] April 17 (ANI): As the festival of Easter is being celebrated on Sunday, devotees took part in mass and prayer sessions in churches across the country.
In Kerala's Kochi, eastern mass and prayer sessions were held at St Mary's Cathedral Basilica by Syro-Malabar Church Major Archbishop Cardinal George Alencherry. Devotees gathered in large numbers to join sessions, praying to and remembering Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead on the day now known as Easter to millions of his devotees across the world. Sounds of hymns and prayers rang across the centuries-old cathedral.
During his speech to the devotees, Cardinal George Alencherry highlighted the massive extent of sectarian thoughts, conflicts, and their escalation to riots and wars in the modern era and the loss of innocent lives due to it.
"We must cultivate a positive attitude of seeing everyone as brothers and sisters without hostility," he added.
In Mumbai, the famous St. Michael's Church also hosted special Easter prayers. Devotees thronged in large numbers to remember the holy name of Lord Jesus.
A devotee named Julie told ANI, "It is an important day for us, we are really happy today. Jesus rose from the dead today. He died for us on the cross. He brought salvation to the whole world and gave us all a new life.""Today is a great day. God has saved us," added another devotee named Amelie.
In Goa, Easter celebrations were held with great vigour and faith by the devotees at the Immaculate Conception Church in Panaji. Easter Vigil was held outside the church.
Fr Walter De Sa, Parish Priest, Immaculate Conception Church, Goa told ANI, "We will start the Easter vigil. The resurrection of Lord Jesus is the climax of our celebration, the culmination of Paschal Mystery. After death, our Lord rose. We are going to celebrate this victory over death and sin. The ceremony will begin with blessings of fire and light. Lord is the light of the world, he takes away all the darkness, namely sin and other evils. We will put out all lights, light a candle and enter the Church. Once we are inside the church, will turn them all. The significance is that the Lord is the light of the world.""Then after it, the second part of the celebration will start. We will read the Old Testament and see the history of salvation unfold till it reaches its climax in the New Testament when in Jesus we all received a new life and were freed from slavery and Satan. After this, we will bless the Holy Water. It symbolises new life. Jesus himself said that he is the 'living water'. Then, we will have the renewal of baptismal vows, where we will proclaim our rejection of Satan and our acceptance of faith in God. Later we will begin the liturgy of Eucharist, the cultivation of celebration of Eucharistic sacrifice.""At the end, we will have a procession with a blessed sacrament around the church, we will enter the church with it and give solemn benediction to the people. We will also sprinkle holy water over people to signify that they are new creatures today, they have a new self and have become closer to god. Easter Vigil is the mother of all vigils. On Easter Sunday, masses will be held as usual, we will praise the Lord," he added.
In Tamil Nadu's capital Chennai, devotees offer prayers in a church in Nungambakkam on the occasion of Easter Sunday.
Easter is a holy Christian festival that celebrates Jesus rising from the dead, three days after he was put on a cross and executed.
As mentioned in the Bible, Christ was crucified on the day of Good Friday and buried in a grave after his last supper which is commemorated as Maundy Thursday. However, on the third day when his disciples visited his grave, they found that the grave was empty. The day marks the triumph of Christ over death and this also makes him the 'Son of God'. The day is celebrated with pomp and grandeur every year.
Traditions like church visits, baking hot cross buns and decorating Easter eggs are symbolic of Christ's death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb.
It always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.
Spring equinox occurs when the Sun is exactly above the equator, thus making the day and night of equal lengths.
Traditions like baking hot cross buns and filling empty eggs are symbolic of Christ's death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb.
On this occasion, people also exchange Easter baskets and special gifts with their loved ones. (ANI)