Pakistani Christians Begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday Processions

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The Christian Holy Week 2016 began with Palm Sunday on March 20, 2016. Many small processions holding palm leaves and singing Urdu and Punjabi Christian hymns were seen in different parts of Pakistan.

Palm Sunday is a significant event in the life of Jesus, as it acknowledges his triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem by a procession on a donkey surrounded by friends and followers waving palm branches.

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Palm Sunday Procession in Khanewal, South Punjab. The procession even includes a donkey marking Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey

Moving forward in the week, the biblical account of Jesus’ life turns to the scene of the “Last Supper where individual churches in the community will hold their own Maundy Thursday service. The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word mandatum, which meant “commandment”. At this service we remember Jesus’ new commandment to love one another as he has loved us.

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Procession in a Christian community in Lahore

Each church celebrates Maundy Thursday in its own way to illustrate and emphasize Jesus’ example of humble service and his love for others, through the washing of feet and establishing the concept of sharing communion.

The Thursday service is followed by the Good Friday service which is usually a three hour service. The service is held to commemorate the time when Jesus was on the cross. The three hour time 12:00 noon to 3:00 is significant as this time is popularly believed to be the time between which Jesus remained on the cross. In the service, the church ponders upon the seven last sayings Jesus said on the cross.

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Procession at Kotli Loharan
A young boy is seen holding a crucifix made from palm leaves

This Good Friday service is then followed by the Easter sunrise procession on Sunday to commemorate the time of Jesus’ resurrection. According to Bible Jesus some women went to Jesus’ grave early Sunday morning and found the grave empty. Christians around the world hold processions early in the morning to commemorate the event.

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Palm Sunday procession in Peshawar. Children are seen holding palm branches, a wooden cross and banners that read ‘Hosanna’

Churches then hold Easter service after the procession. Easter this year will fall on March 27, 2016.