Devotees all set for Good Friday march | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Devotees all set for Good Friday march

Between Khar and Santacruz this Friday, Jesus Christ will perform miracles, be condemned, crucified and finally resurrected, even as thousands of devotees looking on are shown the relation of these stories to the present-day violence against minorities in India.

mumbai Updated: Apr 21, 2011 01:56 IST
Aarefa Johari

Between Khar and Santacruz this Friday, Jesus Christ will perform miracles, be condemned, crucified and finally resurrected, even as thousands of devotees looking on are shown the relation of these stories to the present-day violence against minorities in India.

For the 24th year in a row, members of the Christian organisation ‘The Cross’ will enact the final events of Christ’s life on the streets as part of their annual Good Friday walking pilgrimage. The theme chosen this year, to be depicted through banners and slogans, is the rising anti-Christian violence in certain parts of the country.

“Jesus was whipped and cursed and put to death more than 2,000 years ago, and today, discrimination and communal violence still continue in this country,” said Joseph Dias, founder of The Cross, referring to the attacks on Christians in Karnataka and Orissa over the past three years. “Despite the provocation, through the procession we want to show that the Christian response to this violence is prayer and fasting.”

The 7-km ‘Stations of the Cross’ procession, which hundreds of Christians attend barefoot every year, will begin at Sacred Heart Church, Khar (west) at 10.30am, and will end about four hours later at Vakola’s St Anthony’s Church in Santacruz (east). Organisers have arranged for elaborate stage sets, costumes, lights and sound effects in order to put up 14 short enactments of Biblical episodes along the route.

For 25-year-old Allan D’Souza, who will play the role of Jesus for the seventh year in a row, the experience is spiritual. “Over the years, I have understood the character better, and as I feel Christ’s pain, I also make the audience feel it,” said D’Souza, a graphic designer from Chembur.

For the devotees – that often includes some non-Christians – the pilgrimage is a sombre act of penance. “We wait for this every year. The aim is to share the suffering that Jesus underwent by fasting and walking for hours in the sun,” said Charlayne Lobo, 49, a seamstress who has attended the march for the past 22 years and now also handles costumes for the actors.