Easter 2021: How India is celebrating the festival of rebirth amid the pandemic
The aroma of freshly-baked cakes fills the air whiffing out of the kitchen.
In another corner, chocolates, just out from the oven, adorn the dining table on a tray like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle scattered over in a symmetry- chaotic yet beautiful, intriguing yet interesting.
Jewel Francis is busy preparing for Easter- a Christian festival celebrating Jesus rising from the dead, three days after he was put on a cross and executed.
Francis, every year, divides time between home and church, participating in rituals and mass during the Holy Week as the city of Nagpur, under the spell of spring, welcomes people with open arms. This time, however, like last year, festivities outside are subdued.
The Maharashtrian city clocked a massive spike in Covid-19 patients- 4,108 new cases recorded on Good Friday. The virus has been cruel. Death toll is mounting. Sixty in a single day.
"I am celebrating Easter at home, with my parents, as meeting up with relatives is not thinkable at this very moment," Jewel Francis tells ANI.
Last year during Good Friday and Easter, the city, famous for Oranges, was under coronavirus-induced lockdown, which means there was no whipping up of Easter feast, no chocolate eggs, jelly beans adorning the bakery. Every household turned into a church where the devouts prayed, every kitchen was made into a bakery.
"More than a year of this pandemic has taught us enough ways to celebrate at home. My mother is a very good cake baker, and I can also prepare tasty homemade chocolates, which I realized during the lockdown. All in all, we have everything from the goodies tradition including Easter egg recipes that can be prepared at home," Francis adds.
With over 30 million followers, Christianity is India's third-largest religion, making up less than three percent of the country's population. Parts of southern and western India, including Kerala and Goa, have sizeable followers of the Abrahamic religion.
Goa, famous for beaches, has some of the oldest churches, and the culture- vibrant and full of life. But the deadly pathogen doesn't have any bias. Section 144, prohibiting the assembly of more than four people, is in place in this resort state. From the highly anticipated Shigmo Festival Parade to the open-air parties, all have been restricted this year.
Raelyn D'Souza, says she will be decorating her house this Easter- marking rejuvenation and life.
"Not only lights, from Easter trees to Easter baskets all will be prepared at home," says D'Souza.
"I will definitely use the DIY Easter egg recipe! Unlike previous shopping times, this year for Easter I'm surely not purchasing any goodies from the market but planning to make a completely homemade Easter basket full of completely homemade goodies, including the bunny chocolate, of course. We will like before, decorate the Easter tree with artificial feathers at home," she adds with a spark in her eyes.
For her Easter means goodies and this year, everything is home-made, from hot cross buns spiced with cinnamon and flavoured with raisins, to Tutti Frutti. Easter bunnies will also be crafted at home with the DIY, best out of the waste idea.
Easter is very significant within Christianity and is the foundation of the faith. Jesus, the Son of God, fulfilled prophecy and through his crucifixion, gave the gift of eternal life to those who believed in his death and resurrection. With the pandemic snuffing out lives, the festival has gained its significance.
Steven Lewis, an engineer from Delhi, says the family will celebrate the festival with Jesus, highlighting that the true meaning of the occasion is to remember the supreme power, no matter outside with friends in church or at home with family.
"For the people who dislike ideas on being crafty, at least this project gets to make families sit down together to bound and make memories, I am a Catholic and know the real meaning of Easter but I am also sure that Jesus loves the idea of seeing everybody sharing some time of memories together, no matter if it Is on an in-house egg hunting or bunnies crafting, his purpose of forgiving and bringing life back to us needs to be celebrated no matter how," Lewis tells ANI.
The country-wide vaccination for Covid-19 has been stepped up. India crossed a significant milestone in its fight against the pandemic as the cumulative number of vaccine doses administered in the country crossed the 7.3 crore mark, the Union Health Ministry said on Saturday. A total of 7,30,54,295 Covid-19 vaccine doses have been given, as per the provisional report till 7 am today.
The followers and devouts are gearing up to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, wishing each other happiness and health, adhering to social distancing but not emotional distancing- in the true spirit of Easter, with the hope that the world is able to wriggle out fast from the clutches of coronavirus.