Praying for peace: Easter celebrated across the city sans procession, celebratory fair

People offered special prayers and sang Easter hymns to the music of a harmonium and a tabla.


Thousands congregated at several churches amid tight security. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL/EXPRESS

PESHAWAR:


Christians across the city celebrated Easter on Sunday in spite of severe restrictions due to security concerns.


Midnight services began on Saturday and the rituals continued on Sunday with thousands of people gathered at the city’s main places of worship; St Michael’s Church, St John’s Church and All Saints Church.

Dressed in their Sunday best, many families at St Michael’s Church had to stand outside the main hall, as it could only accommodate around 1,000 people.

People offered special prayers and sang Easter hymns to the music of a harmonium and a tabla.

“It is not Easter until you hear these songs at churches,” said Aurangzeb Masih, who was at St Michael’s Church for the mass.

“We should learn compassion and sacrifice,” said St Michael’s Church Reverend Younus Riaz as he addressed the congregation and spoke about the significance of the day that ends the forty-day period of Lent. Riaz also offered prayers for the progress and prosperity of the country.

Nadeem James, the general secretary of the church, expressed satisfaction over security arrangements at churches situated in sensitive areas of the city.

Between celebration and safety

However, Christians at All Saints Church in Kohati complained about the number of security personnel present. All Saints Church saw a bleak 2013 after a bloody attack in September took close to 100 lives.

The celebratory procession that used to pass through historical bazaars has been discontinued, while the annual fair held at Kohati was cancelled too this year.

“For the last six years, we have not been allowed to hold the fair in Kohati; a staple Christmas and Easter tradition for decades,” said James.

“For my children and I, coming to church in new clothes is the only opportunity we get to celebrate religious traditions and meet relatives,” said Shan Masih. “We are often too caught up with our daily routine to gather in this manner. “

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2014.

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