Celebrating Easter in Bangalore, India

Celebrating Easter in Bangalore, India
The feast of Easter, which celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, is Christianity’s most important holiday. Easter is a festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixtion at calvary in 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.

The week before Easter is called the Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum including Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In Bangalore Holy Week is celebrated with great fervour in all the churches across the city. Services are held at either 3pm or 6pm in the city in all the Christina places of worship and the faithful make it a point to attend all the services, dressed in white or pale colours of mourning.

Easter does not fall on a set date every year, as most holidays do. Instead, Christian churches in the West celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21. Therefore, Easter is observed anywhere between March 22 and April 25 every year. Orthodox Christians use the Julian calendar to calculate when Easter will occur and typically celebrate the holiday a week or two after the Western churches, which follow the Gregorian calendar.

The exact origins of this religious feast day’s name are unknown. Some sources claim the word Easter is derived from Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. Other accounts trace Easter to the Latin term hebdomada alba, or white week, an ancient reference to Easter week and the white clothing donned by people who were baptized during that time. Through a translation error, the term later appeared as esostarum in Old High German, which eventually became Easter in English. In Spanish, Easter is known as Pascua; in French, Paques. These words are derived from the Greek and Latin Pascha or Pasch, for Passover. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection occurred after he went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, the Jewish festival commemorating the ancient Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt. Pascha eventually came to mean Easter.

Of course besides the religious fervour of the feast commercialization has hit the celebration in a big way. Over 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are made each year. Easter is really an entire season of the Christian church year, as opposed to a single-day observance. Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection and penance and represents the 40 days that Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry, a time in which Christians believe he survived various temptations by the devil.

In addition to Easter’s religious significance, it also has a commercial side, as evidenced by the mounds of jelly beans and marshmallow chicks that appear in stores each spring. As with Christmas, over the centuries various folk customs and pagan traditions, including Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets and candy, have become a standard part of this holy holiday.

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