Archive for April, 2009

Easter

April 26, 2009

Easter is the day when Jesus Christ was crucified and the Christians offer prayers and services in the Churches. Easter is another important festival for Christians. On this day Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Easter eggs and Easter bunnies are a major attraction during Easter, the festival of rejuvenation of life and living.

In the days of the early Christian church, only Easter Sunday was celebrated as a holy day. By the fourth century, each day of the week preceding Easter was established as holy days including Good Friday.
To most Christians, Good Friday is really a misnomer in that it was a “bad” Friday—the crucifixion day of Jesus. Some believe the term “Good” evolved from “God” or God’s Friday. Others believe “good” represents the good gift of salvation brought forth by the martyrdom. Regardless, it is a holy day throughout the Christian world.


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Ceremonial worship of the holiday follows closely to the events described in the scriptures. Some congregations still hold a three-hour service on Friday representing the three hours He hanged on the cross. A typical service includes seven distinct elements representative of Christ’s seven utterances while on the cross.

Good Friday is a day of sincere reverence among Goan Catholics. It is the culmination of Lent, an important observance in the lives of devout Catholics. Lent is observed for 40 days from February to March, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Good Friday followed by Easter Sunday.


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Originally known as ‘God’s Friday’, the present expression is believed to have emerged in the 10th or 11th century. According to Christian legend, Jesus Christ was from Nazareth, a town in modern Israel. A well-loved and respected citizen, he was considered by many to be the Son of God.

Some high officials and Jewish priests, however, felt that he was trying to usurp their authority and mislead the people. They hatched a plot against Christ with the help of one of his 12 apostles, named Judas. On charges of misleading the people, of instigating them not to pay taxes to the emperor, and of claiming to be the messenger of God, they arrested Christ. The following day, he was produced before a council comprising priests, teachers of law and elders, and questioned about the charges against him.
Finding him guilty on all counts, they presented him before the Roman Governor, who saw no reason to condemn him. But the priests were adamant. They insisted that it was his teachings, which were responsible for all the riots in the city of Judea. At the same time, they pleaded for the release of one of their men, who had been imprisoned for the crime. The Governor appealed to them, reiterating that Christ had done no wrong. When the clergy did not agree, he handed Jesus Christ to them to do as they wished. The crowd asked for his crucifixion.

As he was led away by the soldiers, he was made to wear a crown of thorns and mockingly addressed as ‘King of the Jews’ by the jeering crowd. A huge wooden cross was placed on his shoulders, and he carried it to the place assigned for his crucifixion. In a show of solidarity, a group of his followers marched in a procession behind him. Two criminals were also led to the same place to be put to death with Jesus. At the assigned place, the three men were nailed to the crosses and left to die. Before he breathed his last, Jesus asked God, his father, to forgive those who were responsible for his death, as they were unaware of the magnitude of their sin. Jesus is believed to have died at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, three hours after being nailed to the cross.

On Good Friday, a cross, symbolic of the one on which Jesus was crucified, is unveiled in many churches. It is believed that Jesus rose from his grave on the following Sunday, which is celebrated as Easter. The rituals for Good Friday begin on the preceding Thursday. A feast symbolising the last supper of Christ is held on Thursday night. The end of this meal marks the beginning of the fast for Easter.

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GOOD FRIDAY

April 20, 2009

Good Friday is the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified. Jesus Christ was born to Marry in Nezareth – a small town in Israel. He was the founder of Christianity, one of the world’s largest religions. Christ is believed to be an incarnation of God and his teachings are described in the New Testament.


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It is believed that on Good Friday, Christ was arrested by clergymen. Hence, Good Friday is believed to be the time when Christians keep fast and celebrate the day over the birth of Christ.

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Some people believe that ‘Good’ in GOOD FRIDAY is referred to as ‘GOD’ and it is also a common belief that ‘GOOD’ is referred to the gift brought by martyrdom. And according to one of the views, on this day, it is Jesus who went to heaven. It is also celebrated as a festival of life and spirit. Some believe the term “Good” evolved from “God” or God’s Friday.

Hanuman Jayanti

April 14, 2009

Shri Hanuman is regarded as the God of power of strength and knowledge in Hindu mythology. He is known as the ‘Pavan Putra’ of lord Rama and is the incarnation of Lord Shiva.

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He was born to Kesari and Anjani on the Chaitra Shukla Purnima (Chaitra Shukla Purnima is the Full Moon Day on the Hindu Calendar Month of Chaitra) that is why, he is known as ‘KESERI NANDAN’ and ‘ANJANEYA’. The philosophy of epic Ramayana is incomplete without the understanding of the unfathomable devotion of Lord Hanuman for Shri Rama. As Hindu Mythology says, He was the incarnation of Lord Shiva the God of Destruction, the Third god of Hindu trinity (All this universe is in the glory of God, of Shiva, the God of Love. The heads and faces of men are His own and He is in the hearts of all – Yajur Veda).

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Lord Hanuman is regarded to be the son of Hindu deity ‘VAYU’ (the wind). He was taken by ‘Vayu’ to Lord Sun to gain Vedic, shastra’s and moral knowledge. He gained his whole knowledge from Lord Sun, as he was considered as omniscient on the planet Earth

As per the mythology, Hanuman Ji is invincible and blessed to be immortal. The supremacy possessed by him is very beautifully described in Ramayana, during the Ramayana war of Lord Rama against the mighty Ravana. The “Sundara Kand”, the fifth book in the Ramayana, focuses mainly on the adventures of Hanuman.

Mahavir Jayanthi

April 8, 2009

The birth anniversary of the 24th and the last Tirthankara, Vardhman Mahavir, the founder of Jainism who Born a prince in 599 BC, Mahavir renounced worldly life at the age of 30 and undertook austere penance until he achieved realization, is celebrated by the Jain community on Mahavir Jayanthi. On this day the Jain temples are decorated with flags.


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In the morning the idol of Mahavira is given a ceremonial bath called the ‘abhishek’.
The last Tirthankara, Vardhman Mahavir spread the message of salvation to the world and had many followers. Mahavir preached non-violence, prohibited any kind of killing and taught his followers to seek salvation through penance and abstinence. They are also advised to donate money, clothes and grain to the poor. The Jains are divided into many sects of whom the main ones are Digambaras and Shvetambaras with the latter again divided into Deravasis and Sthanakvasis.


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The devotees make offerings of milk, rice, fruit, incense, lamps and water to the Tirthankar. Lectures are held to preach the path of virtue. People meditate and offer prayers.  Donations are collected to save the cows from slaughter. Pilgrims from all parts of the country visit the ancient Jain Temples at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat on this day.

Ramnavami

April 3, 2009

The birthday of Lord Rama, the celebrated hero of the famous epic, ‘Ramayana’, is enthusiastically celebrated on the ninth day of the waxing moon in the month of Chiatra, all over India. Lord Vishnu is worshipped in his human incarnation as Rama, the divine ruler of Ayodhya. Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. At midday, when Lord Rama is supposed to have been born, a special prayer is performed. People sing devotional songs in praise of Rama and rock, images of him in a cradle to celebrate his birth. Rathyatras or chariot processions of Ram, his wife Seeta, brother Lakshman and devotee Hanuman are held from many temples. People gather in thousands on the banks of the sacred river Sarayu for a dip. Some observe a strict fast on this day.


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Ramnavami occurs in the month of March. Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. At midday, when Lord Rama is supposed to have been born, a special prayer is performed. In northern India especially, an event that draws popular participation is the Ramnavami procession.


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The main attraction in this procession is a gaily-decorated chariot in which four persons are dressed up as Rama, his brother Laxman, his queen Sita and his disciple Hanuman. Several other persons dressed up in ancient costumes as work by Rama’s solders accompany the chariot. The procession is a gusty affair with the participants shouting praises echoing the happy days of Rama’s reign.

On the face of it Sri-Ramnavmi appears to be just a festival commemorating the reign of a king who was later deified. But even behind present-day traditions there are clues, which unmistakably point to the origin of Ramnavmi as lying beyond the Ramayana story.