India - Good Friday

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Good Friday

Good Friday is the Friday before Easter. It occurs between March 20 and April 23. On this day Christians honor the Passion, suffering, and death on the cross of the Lord, Jesus Christ. They believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

There are few justifications as to why the holiday is known as "Good" Friday since it memorializes a sorrowful time in Christianity. Some scholars consider good was used to symbolize holy.

The rituals for Good Friday begin on the former Thursday. A buffet representing the last dinner of Christ is held on Thursday night. The end of this meal marks the beginning of the fast for Easter. Many Christians spend this day in fasting, prayer, sorrow, and meditation on the suffering of Christ on the Cross.

All schools and offices are closed on Good Friday so that the people are able to participate in family observances of this somber day. It is a national holiday in India. If possible, the entire family attends Good Friday services together or at least make a trip to the Church.

The main service on Good Friday takes place between noontime and 3 PM because Jesus is believed to have died on the Cross at three in the afternoon on this day. The ceremony lasts for three hours. In many churches it takes the form of a meditation based on the seven last words of Jesus on the cross, with hymns, prayers, and short poems.

Some churches focus less on prayers, and instead encourage the people to become involved in generous deeds. In many churches, a piece of wood in the shape of the cross is kept. People pray before the cross and kiss it. People also pass before paintings representing the important scenes of the last hours of Jesus' life, rehearsing prayers and singing hymns.

In few churches, mourners wear black and perform the zeal of Christ. Many churches cover the cross and the altar with mourning black, and do not light any candles. At other churches, candles are lit, but they are turn off one by one, with the last one being put out at the moment signifying Jesus' death. The church bells are not rung on Good Friday. A close association service is held at midnight.

The crucifixion also looks forward to Jesus' renaissance. So, the sorrow of Good Friday is tempered by the anticipation and optimism offered by Easter Sunday.


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