Both of India’s top leaders have addressed Christians in their Good Friday and Easter messages. In both instances, the leaders have highlighted the importance and sacrifice of Jesus as a model worthy to be followed. Still, the words these leaders have spoken ring hollow for many Christians in India who have seen religious intolerance and attacks on their community skyrocket. Many claim there government has done little to quell this growing tide of intolerance, while others have accused the government of actively encouraging Hindu radicals forces. Will next Easter see a more open India or will religious intolerance continue to grow?
04/16/2017 India (Vatican Radio) – Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have issued messages for the Christian observances of Easter and Good Friday this year, expressing appreciation for the values that Christ lived and died for. “On the joyous occasion of Easter, I extend best wishes and felicitations to all my countrymen in India and abroad, especially to my Christian brothers and sisters,” the Indian President wrote in a brief message on the eve of Easter, April 15.
“May this Easter be a time of renewal and rejuvenation,” Mukherjee wrote, adding, “The teachings of Lord Jesus Christ inspire us to lead a life filled with truth, forgiveness, love and selfless service.”
“Let us unite together to eradicate violence and hatred from society. Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of the weak and downtrodden,” the Mukherjee wrote.
Earlier on Friday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed esteem for the service and sacrifice of Christ, saying his life was devoted to mitigating human suffering. “Today, on Good Friday, we remember the service & sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His was a life devoted to mitigating human suffering,” he tweeted.
On Good Friday Christians commemorate the suffering and the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ with his death by crucifixion. Good Friday is part of the Holy Week, the final week in the 40-day Lenten period when Christians specially give in to fasting, abstinence, prayer and good works, in preparation for their greatest feast, Easter or the Resurrection of Christ from death. Good Friday is the part of the so-called Easter triduum or the final 3 days, including Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, climaxing to Easter on Sunday.
Good Friday is a public holiday in India. However, the federal government this year decided to observe Good Friday as “’Digital India Day.” However, the state government of Meghalaya,in northeast India, has decided against observing Digital India Day on April 14 because it coincides with Good Friday, an important occasion for the state’s Christian-majority population.