This year, all around the world, Christians will be celebrating Easter amd commemorating Jesus' resurrection without church services or family gatherings and Sunday mass. For the first time in over a century, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem will be closed for Easter weekend.
The Catholic community across the globe just completed Lent, the 40-day liturgical season of fasting and special prayer. After Good Friday where the community commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus, the Easter Vigil mass on Holy Saturday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is considered the most important service in the liturgical calendar.
However, the lockdown means Easter will look very different this year. Usually celebrated with midnight mass and family gatherings, it will mostly be online prayers and messages on social media.
“Every year, our family attends the Easter Vigil Mass at midnight," says Daniel Dunn, a 25-year-old public relations manager from Mumbai. "All our relatives look forward to the family lunch, and the church visits on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. This year, mass is being streamed online."
For Jade Fernandes, a 25-year-old consultant from Mumbai, Easter is when friends and family get together, cook traditional dishes and exchange Easter eggs. "Scratch all that. We are attending an online mass this year which will be a whole different experience. No dressing up for the day,” she rues.
This will be the first solitary Easter for 22-year-old journalist Caroline Felicia D’Almeida. “My family's currently in Sharjah. Some of my relatives stay quite close, but we cannot visit each other. Maybe I'll try cooking something special but I doubt it's going to be with meat. Anything non-veg, especially pork, a Christian celebratory staple of sorts, is going to be really hard to come by."
She says she will miss the church gatherings they used to have in Sharjah, especially the community's Easter potluck dinners. "We used to have traditional Mangalorean dishes like sorpotel, sannas and channa sukka. One Easter staple I will truly miss is my mom’s chicken curry."
Pune-based student Alex Michael Binoy says his biggest loss is not being with his family this year. "I get to see my parents once or twice a year. They stay in Bahrain. Easter is an important holiday where our whole family gets to be together. I’m not exaggerating when I say this: there's a special radiance on everyone’s face at church on Easter Sunday."
Alex is from Kerala and says the one Easter dish he will miss is vattayappam, a steamed rice cake garnished with cashew nuts and raisins. "This year, since the feast won’t be possible, my mom has made a few batches to share with neighbours."
Some people still want to cook for themselves or their families, to commemorate Easter in some way. But the usual feasts of lamb, pork, ham and chocolate treats are off the table. Owing to limited supplies, people are opting for smaller, more frugal spreads.
“Most ingredients and products are not freely available. So it's going to be mainly a pulao, chicken curry and a salad,” says Daniel.
Nicole will be making "a regular Sunday meal, as opposed to a grand meal which often includes a nice Mangalorean pork dish among other things. We'll just do the best we can from the groceries we have at home."
“With limited food supplies, the quantity of dishes will definitely reduce. Also, we’re opting for less wastage and sticking to one-pot meals,” says Lavina whose Easter meal otherwise would consist of roast beef, stuffed chicken and pulao.