KARACHI: Attired in colourful dresses, dolled-up girls and smart boys attended the Good Friday prayers at the St Andrews Church.
The prayers, which continued for three hours from noon to 3pm, were divided in three sections - for adults, for children between three and eight years of age and for youngsters between nine and 15 years of age.
"The reason for conducting prayers separately, keeping age in view, is to explain children in simple words the meaning of the 7 Saleebi Kalmat," shared a teacher at the church, Olive Jessica.
Good Friday is celebrated and special prayers are held two days later on Easter to mark the day of the resurrection of Jesus, shared one of the students at St Andrews, Janet James Din. "Good Friday is celebrated after 40 days of fasting, except Sundays, which is called Lent," she said, adding that the fast is to be observed from sunset to sunset.
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"It is not just a day but week-long celebration for us with prayers and ceremonies in churches. The celebrations start a week before Easter on Palm Sunday when it is believed that Jesus entered Jerusalem, followed by Ash Wednesday," Din said.
"Christians pray on Wednesday and put ash on their forehead and wrist, too," said Din, adding this practice is usually common among Roman Catholics and the ash is of palm trees.
"Jesus observed a fast for 40 days to end the wrongdoings of the people and ended his fast on Holy Thursday, which was his last supper before crucifixion," shared another student, Afraz Afaq. The believers of Christianity start their prayers on Thursday and also observe the last fast of Lent.
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Father Saleh Diego, who is a Catholic, told The Express Tribune that Easter is celebrated in two different ways by Catholics and Protestants. The difference pertains to the main prayers that take place on Saturday.
Catholics start their prayers on Saturday night as they believe that the date changes at midnight. In contrast, the Protestants wait for sunrise and pray after 4am. This ritual, 'Sunrise Prayers', continues till 6:30am.
"The reason for starting prayers after 4am is that the first eyewitness of Jesus' resurrection was around that time, which is why the sunrise prayers are held early morning," said Simon Shahid while preparing Easter egg gifts for children.
After offering prayers at the church, families go to meet relatives, prepare food, have parties and celebrate their happiness, shared Shahid, adding that Easter eggs, hot cross buns, Easter bunnies and many other such foods have no link with the resurrection of Jesus but are just to celebrate and spread happiness among families.
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Explaining the crux of the celebrations, Din said Jesus gave his life for the wrongdoings of his people. He [Jesus] took all the blame on himself and decided to sacrifice himself, Din said.