Celebrating Easter in goodwill and harmony

By May Robertson

PETALING JAYA, April 16 — Today is Easter Sunday, a day revered by Christians both here and around the world.

It brings to close 40 days of lent during which Christians observed fast, abstinence and goodwill to all.

The past week’s Holy Week observance saw those of the faith reflect on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday — the penultimate days leading to the Easter Vigil service to welcome Easter Sunday (today).

With Easter Sunday Christians, reflect on the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Worshippers turned out in droves for the Easter Vigil. At the St Francis Xavier Church in Jalan Gasing, over a thousand worshippers attended the special services yesterday.

As the holiest day on the Christian calendar, the paschal candle is lit before service commences.

The lighting of the candle signifies the light of Jesus entering the world.

The priest, surrounded by altar servers, would give candles to the faithful.

The candles are lit, and are carried into the church which is in darkness.

Lights remain switched off until the first reading of the Holy Bible. In all there are seven readings.

After the readings, the priest addresses the congregation and talks about the resurrection of Christ in his sermon.

The entire Easter service takes close to two hours.

Frederick Yeoh, 59, came with his family feeling solemn and peaceful.

“I am glad to be here to join my brothers and sisters in faith and solidarity. Good Friday and Easter mean more than Christmas being a core tenant of our faith,” he said.

“It is a special day to remember all that Jesus suffered for us on the cross.”

Mary Lee Francis, 34, said she had been attending similar church services for more than 20 years.

“I found God when I was a teenager, and have been attending church services since,” she said.

“It’s also really nice to see old friends whom I may not seen for a long time,” said Mary.

In Malaysia, an estimated three million people are Christians, about 10 per cent of the population.

There are some 100 churches in the Klang Valley, 32 of which are Roman Catholic churches.

Beyond the remembrance of Christ, believers take the opportunity for fellowship with one another.

Many who attended mass stayed back after service to catch up with friends, and make new acquaintances.

Mainstream culture has also developed to make it into a fun-filled day, to include the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs.

The eggs are meant to symbolise new life.

The Easter Bunny is known as the judge of good and evil.

In today’s commercialised world, chocolate Easter eggs are available in an assortment of colours.

They are mainly given as gifts or as props for Easter games such as the Easter Egg Hunt. The presiding priest commences service after lighting the paschal candle, yesterday.