Peace messages were given and feasts enjoyed as the Christian community celebrated Easter on Sunday.
Special prayers and services were held at the city churches visited by believers all dressed up for the day.
“This festival is a sign of hope and life that God never abandons His people especially during trying times,” said Sister Parveen Rehmat, principal of the Sacred Heart High School.
Sharing the significance of Easter with The Express Tribune, Sister Rehmat said it was the “biggest feast in the life of the Church”. It was a feast of joy, she added.
She said the entire day was mostly spent in prayers and services were held in churches followed by feasts with family. She said she prayed that every Pakistani lived in peace and harmony.
A special vigil service had been held the night before. On Sunday, Easter services began with churches holding morning services around 8am, proceeding with hourly services later into the day. Special prayers were arranged for sisters (nuns) during the evening.
As many as 3,000 people turned up for services throughout the day at the Sacred Heart Cathedral.
According to Christian belief, Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Explaining the festival’s historic context at the morning service at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bishop Shaw said, “Christ was persecuted by the Romans after he brought the message of God.” He said Christians believe that the Romans crucified Jesus Christ and that after the third day of the crucifixion, Christ rose from the dead.
Bishop Shaw, the Archdiocese of Lahore, said that the nation was facing great perils in the current times.
“We should remain steadfast in these trying times, just like Jesus Christ,” he said.
Bishop Shaw said, “Many Muslim neighbours prepare food for their Christian neighbours on Easter.” Appreciating the gesture, he said it was highly thoughtful of them.
With food being a focal point of the Easter celebrations, eggs were always part of the menu, Bishop Shaw said. “Eggs are a special part of our Easter breakfast,” he said, adding that eggs symbolised a “new life”.
What came as much of a blessing for the Christian community this year was the uninterrupted supply of electricity to churches during the Easter services through the weekend.
On April 6, Father Francis Nadeem , parish priest of Saint Joseph’s Church, through a statement, had requested Federal Minister of State for National Harmony Akram Masih Gill to spare the Christian community power outages on Easter.
Father Francis had regretted that there were long power outages last Christmas. But this years there was minimal load shedding especially during services from 11pm to 2am on Saturday night and 8am to 2pm on Sunday across the churches in the city, said Father Francis.
Bishop Shaw said he was thankful to the government for their cooperation in this regard.
Naumana Suleman, a human rights activist, said that the day marked the trials of the Christ. However, he felt there was still room for greater understanding between religions.
“If we have to move towards religious harmony and co-existence, we have to respect and understand the religious beliefs of one another,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2012.