FACTS & FIGURES
Time of the year - Between March 22 and April 25
On Easter, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as it is told in the Bible. This holy day celebrates the triumph of life over death. Easter Sunday commemorates the resurrection of Christ on the third day after his crucifixion.
The term 'Easter' was first used when Christianity was introduced to the Saxons. Prior to this time, the Saxons had held an annual feast in honor of the ancient Teutonic goddess of spring, Eostre. The name was transferred to the Christian observance of Christ's resurrection.
Easter is a joyous, happy day and initially Christians celebrated the resurrection every Sunday with a special emphasis on the Sunday closest to Nisan 14. To settle this difference, at the Nicene Council in AD 325, churchmen fixed the date of Easter on the first Sunday following the Pascal full moon. This is the first full moon after the vernal equinox, March 21. This system is followed till today and that is why Easter Sunday moves between March 22 and April 25.
On this day, the special celebrations involve an egg hunt where the eggs crusted with chocolate are kept with lots of other eggs and finding the chocolate crusted ones is regarded as winning the game. Another important part of the Easter celebration is the bunny, which is regarded as the symbol of fertility and therefore considered very auspicious. Children have special fun games that are organised by various groups and institutions.
Historically, the resurrection of Christ occurred at the time of the Jewish feast of Passover (called 'Pesach' in Hebrew). In the early years of Christianity, Jewish Christians observed resurrection and Passover together on the 14th day of Nisan, the Jewish month roughly corresponding with April.
Jesus was betrayed by one of his favourite disciples, Judas, who led him to the Roman soldiers. He was accused of sedition and rebellion before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate condemned Jesus to death by crucifixion. As decreed, Jesus was crucified. This happened on a Friday, and is observed as Good Friday, the day when Jesus laid down his life for the cause of humanity.
On the third day, however, Jesus is said to have risen from the dead. It is said that he asked his disciples to spread his message of brotherhood and then ascended to the heavens in his mortal body. This day is celebrated by all Christians as Easter.
Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph, was born a shepherd. He however, soon became the leader of the masses who had been promised that God's son would come to cleanse the world of its evils. The Christians found their leader in Jesus and recognized him as their savior. The Romans used many oppressive measures to subdue them. When they failed, they branded Jesus's trusted followers as traitors, and persecuted them.
When Jesus stepped into Jerusalem, he wanted to reform the Jewish temple, and charged the priests with converting the Father's House into a den of thieves. The Caliph or High Priest of the Jews found that his vested interests in the temple trade were in danger. He bribed Judas with 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus.
On the night of the Jewish Feast of Passover, Jesus, who was born a Jew, had his last meal. Then, he withdrew to the Garden of Gethsemane on the outskirts of Jerusalem to pray. He had a few trusted disciples with him, among whom was Judas.
Jesus knew what was going to happen, and the Gospel says that in his agony he sweated a few drops of blood. Judas however, remained unmoved and betrayed Jesus.
Since this event occurred at the beginning of spring, the festival is called Easter. The word is derived from Eostre or Ostare, the ancient goddess of spring. The Easter dates are not fixed and are determined by two non-Christian festivals-the Jewish Passover and the spring festival of pagans.
PLACES TO VISIT
Regions with a high concentration of Christians like Mumbai, Goa and the Northeastern states would be the places to visit during Easter to experience the celebrations involved with this festival.