Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This day is marked with prayers, fasts and penance. Observed on a Friday just before Easter, it is a public holiday in India.
LEGEND ASSOCIATED WITH GOOD FRIDAY
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 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 and instigating them on 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, 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 of Judea.
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 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.
Two criminals were also led to the same place to be put to death with Jesus. At the assigned place, the three men were nailed to the crosses and left to die. Jesus died after three hours and is believed to have died on the cross at 3 o’clock in the afternoon Good Friday.
A cross, symbolic of the one on which Jesus was crucified, is unveiled in many churches. Before he breathed his last he asked god, his father, to forgive those who were responsible for his death, as they were unaware of the magnitude of their sin. Jesus died at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. It is believed that he rose from his grave on the following Sunday, which is celebrated as Easter.
RITUALS – 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.
Lord Jesus Christ loves to live through our lives. 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, sermons, meditation and prayers form part of the ceremony, in memory of the suffering endured by Jesus Christ for three hours. It is a day of prayer and penance, the bells of the churches remain silent on Good Friday.