Friday, April 09, 2004

KTWV05 - Issue 2: Good Friday, the old and the new

Welcome to the Kooler Talk Blog for Stephanians with its first real entry this Good Friday, 9th April 2004.

Would somebody send me a better image of the College logo. The blog will be updated many times a week with my reminiscences, so please bookmark this page. You can add your comments in the Comment section or, for more private comments, please do email me.

This entry in the blog is about Good Friday and its relationship to my association with college and our Principal Sircar.

"From the earliest times the Christians kept every Friday as a feast day ; and the obvious reasons for those usages explain why Easter is the Sunday par excellence , and why the Friday which marks the anniversary of Christ's death came to be called the Great or the Holy or the Good Friday. The origin of the term Good is not clear. Some say it is from "God's Friday" ( Gottes Freitag ); others maintain that it is from the German Gute Freitag , and not specially English. Sometimes, too, the day was called Long Friday by the Anglo-Saxons; so today in Denmark."

When I was a small boy living in Mysore and then Bangalore, which were relatively small towns, compared to the huge metropolis of Bombay, that they have now become, Good Friday was a holiday in a different sense. Normally, on Sundays, a religuious holiday for our family, we would go to church early morning and then come home to have our breakfast and then relax for the rest of the day.

Good Friday was different. We ate nothing whatsoever when after we woke up. We would go to church around 11 in the morning and the service would be long, about 3 hours, as the stages to the cross of Christ were gone through.

When we retuned home, tired and famished, it was not a traditional family meal that awaited us. It would be "kanji" which is rice served in the water it is cooked in, "pieara" a sort of boiled beans served with pickle to give the food some taste. The intention was to remind us of the suffering of Christ and to share in it with our simplicity in the food we consumed.

The atmosphere was always one of saddness. This would last right through the Saturday till we went to church on Sunday where there would be much happiness and Easter greetings being shared between all.

The resurrection of Christ was to be surely seen in the joy which was seen in all those at church.

Going home after the Easter Service would be such that we had a fabulous Easter meal waiting for us. (I do not remember much emphasis on the custom of Easter Eggs.)

When we moved to Bombay, although the same procedure would be followed, it did not have the same ring of involvement that we had in the smaller communities of the small towns. My mother would sometimes go to attend the church service at her Orthodox Church where they actually stood right through the three hours. In the Protestant Anglican St. Thomas Cathedral, the service was usually in the morning, followed by the three hour service from noon till three. the music would be great.

Easter in Delhi, when I was a student at St. Stephen's College, was a wonderful event as we shared a hearty breakfast provided in the home of Principal Sircar when we got back from church.

Although the atmosphere of Good Friday did not have the same degree of sadness, the college chapel was filled with Christians and some others, including Muslims and Hindus who were curious to know the significance of the words and deeds that Christians followed on Good Friday. Many of my friends would accompany me to the Good Friday service.

These days, living far from my homeland, and not being part of the mainstream Christian community in Finland, the atmosphere is not the same. I go about my daily chores but at the back of my mind those days in Mysore and Bangalore are foremost in my mind, as also the time shared with Principal Sircar and his family. His son Raj was not there during my time in St. Stephen's as he was away in the UK. Prinicpal Sircar's gracious wife and charming daughter were always there as our hostesses. And we would discuss so so many topics as Principal Sircar was genuinely interested in the lives of all of us, our separation from our families during this sad and joyous times, that he understood that he was our stand-in parent and not our Principal.

Unfortunately, my children, now grown up, do not have the same sense of feeling as I do as they were never able to partake of Good Friday and Easter in the same way as I did.

I wonder whether it is my gain or their loss?

No comments: