Christians on Sunday celebrated Easter, Jesus Christ's resurrection on the third day of his crucifixion, with hopes of a new life and a renewed commitment to Christian ideals.

Easter is the oldest Christian festival and the most important event on the liturgical calendar. The dawn of Easter Sunday is considered a symbol of new life and hope. Christ had told his disciples that he would rise from death on the third day of his crucifixion.

Churches across the State, irrespective of denominational differences, held Easter services from midnight up to pre-dawn. Parishioners went to churches late in the evening on Saturday to attend Mass and other rites to mark the anniversary of Christ's return to life, and left a little before daybreak. Depending on the denominational allegiance, the start of the services ranged from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

At most churches, lights were turned off for a few minutes amid prayers, to be turned on at the time when Jesus was believed to have risen from death. This was marked by fireworks and exclamations of joy by the faithful. Sweets were distributed around, in marked contrast to the serving of a bitter liquid made of bitter gourd leaves or curry leaves on the day of crucifixion, the Good Friday. Dramatic re-enactments and tableaus of resurrection were staged to remind the believers of the son of God's happy return to life.

During the midnight services, holy water was blessed and candles were lit from the holy fire as a mark of renewal of the baptismal promise to be loyal to the church and faithful to Christian values. Since Easter also marks the end of Lent, the period of fasting, prayers and abstinence from the consumption of meat and alcohol, for the believers it is the return to their normal lifestyle. Easter Sunday is the beginning of the 50-day Easter Season which ends on Pentecost.

Easter is called a ‘moveable feast' because the date of celebration changes from year to year as it is based on the lunar calendar.

In Kochi, Easter services started at St. Francis Assisi Cathedral at 11 p.m. on Saturday and were led by Bishop Joseph Karikkassery, while at St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica, the rites began at 2 a.m. and were presided over by Bishop Thomas Chakiath. Bishop Joseph Kuriyil led the services at Santa Cruz Cathedra, Fort Kochi.

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