What is Lent?
Lent is a religious observance by the Catholic community for a period of about 40 days. The observance begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday, the one before Easter. Lent, supposedly, is a bigger festival for the Catholic community than Christmas.
“Christianity always talks about resurrection, and how one comes from ashes and will return to ashes, all of which is based on Easter, Lent and the holy week,” says Nicole Barboza, a 26-year-old communications professional from Mangalore.
Explaining Lent, Savio Figueiredo, a community pharmacist from Goa says, “Christianity celebrates two most important dates i.e Christmas—the birth of Christ and Easter—the resurrection of Christ. The latter is considered more significant, for if Christ were not to suffer for the sins of humanity and die on the Cross, to later rise from death on the third day, the achievement of the purpose of God descending on Earth, becoming man and as such without Easter, Christianity would not exist.”
Why observe Lent?
Lent is the period when Catholics replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and disappearance. It traditionally lasts for 40 days, and essentially commemorates the fast of Jesus in the desert. It Commenced with Ash Wednesday (this year 17.02.2021) and ends with Maundy Saturday (03.04.2021).
What happens on Ash Wednesday?
According to Figueiredo, “It is a day of obligation where Catholics are expected to attend mass and Ash (created from the burnt palms of last years Palm Sunday).”
“The purpose of mass that day is to remind yourself that your existence on Earth is temporary ie you came from ashes and you will return to ashes,” emphasises Nicole. Ash is applied on the attendees forehead to signify mourning and repentance.
What are the traditional practices during Lent observance?
According to Sonali Peres, a teacher by profession, “There are three main things to do during Lent which include spending more time in prayer to grow closer to God, fasting to use that time to pray or the resources to carry out works of charity and giving alms. Today, the Pope and the Church on the whole encourage people to be better Christians by changing one’s attitude, being humble and giving up things to build one’s Christian character, instead of giving up materialist things.”
The traditional practice throughout Lent is on Fridays. “Community rituals during Lent include enacting the Stations of The Cross every week,” said Ericka Sequeira, a research analyst. There are 14 stations that follow Jesus’ journey from the beginning to his crucifixion and each station reminds of his journey. The Stations of the Cross are a 14-step Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth as a man.
How does the Catholic community observe Lent?
“Observance of Lent can be done through many small acts. The most popular one is fasting. A lot of people also choose to give up a certain item of food or drink during these 40 days as a form of sacrifice. For example, you will come across people giving up non-vegetarian food, sweets or even alcohol,” said Sequiera.
“Catholics are expected to abstain from meat and consume only one full meal a day or two smaller meals. This is followed more as a personal choice than a compulsion,” adds Savio.
Courtesy : outlooktraveller