|| Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Marked with prayers, fasts and penance, it is a day of contrition for Christians.
Observed on the Friday just before Easter, it is a public holiday in India. Originally
known as 'God's Friday', the present expression is believed to have emerged during
the 10th or 11th century. According to Christian legend, Jesus Christ hailed 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 of priests, the
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
| 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. A group of his followers marched in a procession behind him,
in a show of solidarity.
The rituals for Good Friday commence on the preceding Thursday. A
feast symbolizing the last supper of Christ is held on Thursday night. The end
of this meal marks the beginning of the fast for Easter.
Among some sects of the Syrian Orthodox Christians, the Good Friday liturgy begins
at midnight on Thursday, but for all other Christians it starts on Friday morning.
A plank of wood, representing the cross on which Christ was crucified is displayed
in churches for the veneration of believers. One by one, they come and kiss it.
This is followed by a service from noon to 3 o'clock, in which narratives from
the four Gospels are read out. Sermons, meditation and prayers form part of the
ceremony, in memory of the suffering endured by Jesus Christ for three hours.
This is followed by a general communion service at midnight. In some churches,
mourners wearing black move in a procession with an image of Christ, and a ceremonial
burial takes place. A day of prayer and penance, the bells of the churches remain
silent on Good Friday.