Guest Author - Preena Deepak
Christianity was introduced in India by missionaries who lived and died in the country while proclaiming Christ. The foreign rulers who came later built Churches and introduced their customary modes of worship. Soon several Indians began accepting Christ and renouncing their own faith systems.
Even years after the foreign invaders left the country; Christianity has continued to grow in India. Christian festivals like Christmas and Easter are still observed by the Christian minority that dwells in India.
The Holy Week that begins with Palm Sunday marks the last week of the season of Lent. Indian Christians belong to several denominations and each of them has their own set of unique rituals that are adhered to through the season of Lent. The highlight of the season is ‘self denial’ and so many Christians abstain from consuming meat and alcoholic beverages at this time. The money that they might have spent on such luxuries over this period is saved up and given to the Church.
The last week of the Lenten season begins with Palm Sunday that marks the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem before He was crucified. To mark this occasion, Churches organize sing song processions of congregation members laden with tender palm leaves along with a special service.
During the Holy Week that begins with Palm Sunday, several special prayers and meetings are organized in Churches. Thursday is observed as ‘Maundy Thursday’ to commemorate the Last Supper of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The next day, ‘Good Friday’ is a National Holiday and Christians throughout the country mourn the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus. Church services are organized and in many Churches the altar is covered with black cloth. Several members wear black as well and fast during the day or only consume a vegetarian meal.
The Lenten season is a time of Spiritual renewal and it is not uncommon for Christians to gather together for prayer and Bible Study. Several convention meetings are also organized to uplift souls and encourage the Believers to continue in the Christian Faith.
Though Christians are a very small minority of the Indian population, they continue to observe the Lenten season, Holy week and Easter celebration with sincerity and devotion.
The Passion of Christ is a good resource to understand the basis of Christians’ observance of Lent, Holy Week and Easter. Here’s a link to buy your copy.
Buy 'The Passion of the Christ (Definitive Edition)' from Amazon.com
Here is a book that gives more information on the History of Christianity in India
Buy Christianity in India: Two Thousand Years of Faith from Flipkart.com