By Muhammad Naeem Khan Niazi
Christin community across Pakistan is all set to celebrate Easter on Sunday to commemorates Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day of his burial after Crucifixion by the Romans. This festival falls the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon which happens between March 22 and April 25 every year and the Eastern Christianity and this year this day falls on April 04.
Easter, also known as Resurrection Sunday, is culmination of Passion of Jesus (short final period in the life of Jesus Christ which stands for suffering and patience) and is preceded by Lent – a 40-day period of fasting, prayer and penance. In Easter traditions, Eastertide, also known as Easter Season, starts on Easter Sunday and ends with coming of the 40th day which marks the Feast of Ascension – when Jesus Christ ascended to the heavens.
As per Christian traditions, Jesus Christ was crucified by the Romans on Good Friday, buried the same day and he was resurrected from the dead on the third day i.e. Easter Sunday when he appeared among his disciples for the next 40 days before ascension into the heavens.
Easter Sunday customs include the sunrise services at churches, decorating Easter eggs (symbol of empty tomb) and clipping the church services besides embellishing the chancel area of the churches with Easter lily which symbolizes resurrection. Easter is about the defeat of death and the hope of salvation. This is an important festival for Christians like Christmas and they celebrate it with religious zeal and devotion.
Reverend Father Samson Dilawar of the Mary Immaculate Conception Church, New Anarkali, Lahore said that Easter festival is the foundation of Christian faith which is based on crucifixion, death and Resurrection of the Holy Christ, adding that Easter was the only religious festival commemorated for centuries by the early Christianity and Christmas festivities became part of religious tradition quite late among Christians.
He said although Christmas is celebrated with more pomp and show but it is Easter that makes for the main pillar of Christian faith. “If Jesus Christ, according to the Old Testament, had not resurrected from amongst the dead, the faith had not been complete.”
After 40-day fasting, Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday followed by three-day worship from Good Friday and this continues till the Easter Sunday to mark the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Reverend Father added.
He said Easter worship is about pondering over the mysteries of crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who had raised his voice against injustice and evils perpetrated by the Jews and Romans of his times.
Father Samson said Easter is the day of renewal of a pledge to raise voice against cruelty and injustice in the world as was done by Jesus Christ against the Romans. “They (Romans) thought they had vanquished the voice of truth, peace and love but Christ’s resurrection proved them wrong.”
Reverend Father Shahid Meraj, Dean Lahore Cathedral, on the significance of Easter Sunday, said Easter is more about religious rituals and spirit of worshipping than mere rejoicing. “The Easter, in its true spirit and concept, teaches piety, repentance, purgation, purity, peace, love, reconciliation and salvation. We need to pursue this very spirit instead of focusing more on rejoicing.”
Easter is a universal message for all those who fight for truth and justice that truth cannot be murdered and darkness will never overpower light. Jesus Christ, in his teachings, upheld the standard of truth and righteousness and his message is for posterity.
He said Christ washed away sins of the world with his blood and his resistance against forces of evil and injustice is a light for future generations. “Easter is a festival of life and hope and the current situation of the pandemic calls for unified efforts to defeat death through consolidated efforts and respect life for a brighter future.”
Both the reverend fathers thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for allowing the Christians community to commemorate Easter by observing SOPs. “We could not hold services last year due to severe Covid-19 wave. But, this time we shall avail this opportunity for memorizing discipline and courage manifested by the Holy Christ.”
Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Ijaz Alam Augustine, in his message on this occasion said Easter is a celebrated to pray for peace and harmony among the whole humanity and seek forgiveness for their sins. “This time the community would also seek heavenly intervention to purge the world of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.”
He said the Christian community across the country during the Easter services on Sunday would also pray for peace, prosperity and safety of the country and people of Pakistan. “This day also provides us an opportunity to renew our faith and love for humanity.