Sunday best: Christians observe Easter amid strict security

Possibilities of attack prompts deployment of commandos


Women gather at St John’s Church to celebrate Easter. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL/EXPRESS

PESHAWAR:


Churches were filled to the rafters as Christians across the city celebrated one of their holiest days in the year: Easter Sunday. The day marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Prayers had been continuing since Saturday night. 


“It is the most important holy day in the Christian calendar,” said Pastor Habib of St Michael’s Church. “After Palm Sunday comes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday,” he added. The week, ending in Easter Sunday, is full of rituals and people of the faith visited church in droves to commemorate the event.



The St Michael’s congregation was so large that there was little room inside the halls and arrangements had to be made for outside seating. Habib reiterated that Easter Sunday was the most auspicious day for Christianity as it marks the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion on Friday “Jesus sacrificed his life for the redemption of our souls from our sins.”

Praying for peace

“Prayers were offered for peace and stability in the country,” said the pastor. “We prayed that the current [volatile] security situation turns into a time of peace and comfort.”

Meanwhile, volunteers were on alert to ensure that all those praying for better times remained safe.

“We have been strictly checking every person who entered the church throughout the week,” said Joseph at St Michael’s. He said most people preferred spending the day with family members and friends. Apart from the prayers, families gathered to have dinner which continued late into the night.

Come together

“Celebrations have always been marred by the security situation,” Abram Masih told The Express Tribune.

He said the morning began at 10am at all leading churches for special prayers. “There is not much fanfare these days, but it is an opportunity to visit relatives and come together.”

Christians also gathered at Nishtar Hall where they celebrated the occasion by singing hymns, dressed to the nines in honour of Easter. The Easter fair had been organised by the K-P culture department.

Strict security

There were strict security measures in place at over a dozen churches of the city to prevent any untoward incident.

Large contingents of police were deployed around St John’s Church inside Kohati Gate where the Easter congregation started around 8am and ended by 2pm.“Extra security has been deployed at these places of worship over the past few days,” said a police official. “Commandos and regular force personnel, in addition to plainclothes officers, were at churches in the city, Cantt and other surrounding areas,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2015. 

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