Good Friday 2021: Significance and traditions

“Jesus did all he could to help one cross the mind and get into the soul, the spirit, the source of life, the Self,” explains spiritual leader and humanitarian, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, “Spirit is eternal and beyond birth, death, name and form. You find the most complete expression of love in Jesus.”

Good Friday (the pious day) is dedicated to the day of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This day is of great significance for the Christian community and is observed as a day of remembrance and mourning. In some traditions, Good Friday also marks the end of 40 days of fasting and penance- called Lent.

According to biblical accounts, Jesus was sentenced to death and subjected to a lengthy trial of public scrutiny and suffering leading to his crucifixion in Jerusalem. One of Jesus’s parting message for his crucifiers was, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.’ The day is thus marked as a day of reflection on the teachings of Jesus.

Easter is celebrated three days after the crucifixion which is the day of Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead.

Around the world, various traditions exist to commemorate the day. The day is observed as one for reflection and a recollection of the sacrifice and teachings of Christ. Fasting is also an important practice on this day. It is believed that it aids in body discipline and getting spiritually focused. Some also observe a fast as a sign of penance.

A special mass is organised with activities that help communities observe the day in communion. The ‘Passion of Christ’ a biblical play that depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus is performed the world over by actors who carry the cross and are accompanied by an ensemble cast that portray the other characters present on the day.

It is also a tradition to carry the cross and retrace the steps Jesus took on his way to the cross. Via Dolorosa is one such processional route in the Old City of Jerusalem believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. A similar tradition is organized in the Vatican, ‘The Way of the Cross’.

(The author is a storyteller and a writer with The Art of Living Bureau of Communication)

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