Easter proclaims the “Resurrection of Jesus Christ”. This festival celebrates the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus through which he atoned for the original sin of Adam and Eve, thus ensuring salvation for mankind.
Many traditional dishes are prepared in Goan Christian households at Easter time. These include Sorpotel and Sannas, Vindalho and other savoury and spicy curries. Additionally, people make Easter eggs, usually out of cashew nut marzipan and distribute them amongst their friends and relatives. Chocolate eggs and chocolate fudge or milk cream eggs are also popular.
It is at this time that the Catholic church remembers several important events in the latter part of Jesus’ life. The story begins with Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, accompanied by crowds of people waving palms, through the last supper, agony in the garden, arrest, torture, crucifixion and death and finally ending with His resurrection on Easter.
With the start of Holy Week, on Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday preceding Easter, the six weeks of penance and fasting, known as Lent come to an end. During Holy week there are four important services which are observed by all Catholic churches, they are;
Palm Sunday (Sunday before Easter) which commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Read more +
During the Palm Sunday mass single coconut palm leaves are distributed amongst the congregation. These palms have been blessed by the priests and are then taken home and woven into the shape of crosses and kept either on the altar in the house or under the mattress of the bed.
Maundy Thursday celebrates the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples on the eve of the Jewish Passover. Read more +
The Maundy Thursday service, which starts off the three day long Easter observance takes place usually between 6 and 7pm in most parishes. There is often a re-enactment of the washing of the feet, in which the priest plays the part of Jesus and washes the feet of twelve of his congregation, who are dressed up to look like the twelve apostles.
Good Friday commemorates the suffering and death of Jesus.
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The Good Friday service is preceded by a three hour agony service in commemoration of the agony of Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. The service starts with the Liturgy of the word where the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to John is read, sung or re-enacted by the priest and the choir. This is followed by the veneration of the cross. A large crucifix is ceremoniously unveiled and members of the confraternity hold smaller crucifixes allowing the people to kiss the feet of the crucified Christ.
The service is followed by a procession where the body of Christ is taken down from the cross and carried throughout the village, in solemn procession, along a path strewn with flowers and lined with the faithful devotees. Some people believe that walking under the casket bring blessings.
The Easter Vigil Service (Saturday at midnight) which celebrates Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
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The Easter vigil service begins with the Liturgy of the Light, and the priests anoint the paschal candle from a fire which has been blessed. They then solemnly intone the Exultet which speaks of the great miracles that the Lord has performed throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The service is unique in that there are seven readings and psalms which are read or sung. There is also an Epistle which is followed by the Gospel. The readings speak of the creation of the world, the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, the Parting of the Red Sea, the sacrifice of Abraham and other such stories from the Old Testament.
The next part of the service is the blessing of the water with the paschal candle, the blessing of the people, with the newly blessed holy water and the renewal of baptismal vows. This is also the time when people who have completed the introductory course can be baptized if they so wish. After this the mass continues as normal.
For those who choose not to attend the Vigil service there are also masses held on Easter Sunday. Another important event, is the blessing of the house, which is done by the Priest after Easter.