A while ago, we discussed two major spring festivals – Basant Panchami and Holi- that are totally unique to India and Indians. Today we talk of a springtime festival that’s celebrated all over the world, including India and Australia. In case you haven’t guessed it by now, I am talking of Easter.
Christians in India
Most people may think that India is all about Hinduism and Islam. On the contrary, India is a multi-ethnic society with followers of many more religions including Christians. India’s large Christian community forms 2.3% of its total population. And before you think that 2.3% is quite tiny, let me remind you that India is world’s second most populous nation after China and this apparently small 2.3% comes to around 24 million people! Add to it the fact that there are many regions such as Goa, Nagaland, Kerala and Mumbai with concentrated and Christian-dominated pockets and you can see why Easter is well known in India though not quite as popular as Christmas which is celebrated with tremendous fanfare. (Read more at http://tandooriflamesmelbourne.com.au/christmas-celebrations-in-india/)
Easter is a Spring Festival
As you know already, Easter is a celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection post- Crucifixion, and as such it signifies a new beginning following the end, a renewal of life. Unsurprisingly this is also the precise message of arrival of spring. Many people do say that Easter is a modified version of a pagan fertility festival.
Well, all I can say that Easter festivities follow a 40-day long period of fasting and abstinence known as Lent. Naturally at the end of this self-denial lies much gratification.
Here are some key features of Easter celebrations in India:
- On Easter Sunday, Catholic Christians attend a special midnight Mass.
- Most Christians buy new clothes to wear on Easter.
- Gifts such as cakes, flowers and lanterns are exchanged between family members and close friends.
- Many people do some form of charity and make donations in cash or kind.
- Families get together for elaborate festive meals that often feature a fusion menu with regional dishes sharing prime space with hot cross buns and chocolate dishes.
- Most schools organize events and contests like ‘decorate the egg’.
- As Good Friday is a gazetted holiday with all schools and offices closed, many families prefer to take long weekend breaks.
- Easter Monday is a restricted holiday (not mandatory but allowed) and Christian educational institutions hold Easter celebrations in advance and often distribute Easter eggs among students.
- Easter eggs and Easter bunnies take pride of place on bakery shelves and bakeries do roaring business. Both Christians and non-Christians throng to buy variety Easter goodies such as hollow sugar eggs filled with dry fruits, candies and chocolates, chocolate bunnies, cakes and so much more.
Easter in Goa
A special mention of Easter celebrations in Goa, a tiny state on the Indian west coast is needed here. While the rest of India was a British colony during 19th and nearly half of 20th century, Goa was a Portuguese colony for centuries. The place has a Portuguese spirit and Catholicism thrives in it. On Easter, the entire Goa wears a carnival atmosphere. Churches and cathedrals are decked up. Many tourists visit Goa on Easter to savour its special brand of festivities.