War Memorial Gary Trouton

Purim, Holi and Good Friday

April 2005

John looks at how Easter is celebrated in other religions

As we pass Easter, I remembered that there are three celebrations that fall on 25th March this year across the Jewish, Hindu and Christian faiths.

The Jewish Passover, or Pesach, often coincides with our Easter. This year though the festival of Purim falls on 25th March. Purim is Hebrew for "lots". It celebrates the story of Esther. Esther married King Ahasurerus, but did not declare that she was Jewish. A government minister called Haman wanted to kill all the Jews because Esther's uncle Mordecai refused to bow to him. He drew lots to decide when to kill them. The only solution was for Esther to admit her faith to the King, who allowed the Jews to defend themselves against this persecution. Jews celebrate Purim today by wearing fancy dress, and boo and hiss as though at a show during the synagogue service.

Holi is the Hindu festival of spring and celebration of new life. We would think it is the parallel to Easter. Wrong! It is even more outlandish than Purim. It is called the "Festival of Colours" and is celebrated by people smearing each other with paint, singing, dancing and throwing coloured powder about with great energy. Caste divisions are ignored, public flirting permitted and bonfires are lit. A great time is had by all U Holi is a popular celebration in North India.

Good Friday is the climax of the sacrifice of Christ's betrayal, trial and crucifixion. But surely this celebration should properly be a day of mourning in church, when Christians either fast or abstain from meat. During special Good Friday services, Christians meditate on Christ's suffering and death on the cross, and what it means for their faith. Many churches hold three-hour services to reflect the time it took Christ to die upon the cross. The sacrament, if reserved in a tabernacle, is removed. This signifies the loss, albeit temporarily, of Christ. It is said by some that "Good" is a corruption of "God" and by others that it is "good" that Christ died for us.

As I ponder these celebrations and different faiths, what a wonderful world we would have if we could all work together in understanding and tolerance of each other, our beliefs and faiths.

John Nicholas-Letch

Honey Tree, Furlong Drove, Stoke Ferry

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