“God has brought us all closer together in prayer,” said Joanna Donna Sam, the youngest of three siblings in Sam …
“God has brought us closer together in prayer,” said Joanna Donna Sam, the youngest of three siblings in Sam’s family. “We have the opportunity to sit together every day and pray for everyone, especially the world, at this time,” he added.
For Joanna, celebrating Easter this time was different, because she was stuck at home. But this is not the only reason why he feels sad.
“The worst part of the pandemic is that it has restricted us in our homes and we feel the urge to go to church to attend mass,” he added. Families usually go to the cathedral Patrick in Saddar, Karachi. But this time, the church will not be a place for worshipers for their regular prayer services.
Annie Peter Sam, mother of the family leader, trying to stay positive.
“This time, we plan to pray and spend Easter with our small family at home. Maybe, in a new way of celebrating this, our Lord will also be present with us,” he said.
And for Peter Sam, the head of the family, Easter is still a celebration.
“We will prepare everything for the holy festival, even though it is a little different. We don’t want anything to be missed and the celebration must continue,” he shared while talking about the religious significance of the holiday.
No one, including Sams, knows how our lives will change in a matter of weeks until the New Year. While new cases of corona virus in Pakistan have only begun to emerge in the last week of February, the world is on the verge of a pandemic. Wuhan – the Chinese city where the corona virus epidemic first broke out – was the first place locked to control its spread.
After the rapid spread of the virus to countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom, among others, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. To date, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide is more than 1.6 million with 341,209 cases of recovery and 102,135 deaths reported.
With the largest number of cases in Europe, Italy – where the head of the Pope Francis Catholic Church lives – is the country hardest hit by a coronavirus outbreak. Lockouts in the country have been extended until May 3, while the bishop of Rome is leading Good Friday prayers in St. Peter’s Square which is almost empty. It’s the opposite of what the traditional Via Crucis looks like – held in the Colosseum with a large number of people and church members.
That was not much different for the Sam family too, all of whom had kept their spirits high even in the midst of a bleak period. The family, like other Christian families around the world, is having an extraordinary experience, where they will celebrate Easter like never before.
The first two cases of Covid-19 in Pakistan appeared on 26 February. It was also the day when Lent – the period when the Christian community fasted – began.
While sharing the importance of this religious observance and subsequent events, Mrs. Sam said, “Lent begins with Shrove Tuesday when we make traditional pancakes, which are very different from the usual. Then comes Ash Wednesday, which reminds us that we are dust. And we go back to the dust After that, we see six weeks of total Lent, every Friday through Easter, we must attend the Station of the Cross, which is a clear picture of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, reminding us of the suffering he experienced for us. Sunday is compulsory, along with prayer, fasting, and alms, which means giving to others as an act of mercy. “
Unaware of what would happen in the future, the family began fasting. However, spending more time at home and praying is something that families will do, even if it’s not as strict as they should after the outbreak.
“Coronavirus hasn’t really had a big impact on our fasting, because we have never really gone out to gather or make very expensive dishes or order food. This is the holy month where we refrain from indulgence,” said Adrian Sam, whose only son is family.
Eden Almeida – the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sam – missed the traditional church services and prayed that the virus would end.
“We missed the service. We really hope this virus will end at Easter,” he said and added how this year’s holiday had been changed by Covid-19 for the Christian community in Karachi without church meetings, no celebratory meals with extended family and friends, and don’t share Easter treats outside the home.
“Church services have been online and on TV, and we have prepared traditional hot cross bread at home. Our family will sit together at the banquet table and thank God for this life and keep us safe from Covid-19. We also plan to having a video chat with our relatives overseas through Zoom, “said Eden, whose husband – Austin Almeida – currently works in Dubai. He shared that their daughter Elianna would miss her father very much, because she could not yet go home for Easter after the global pandemic. His own little family will be connected via video call on Sunday.
Joanna, on the other hand, shares the family’s Easter ritual to visit grandparents’ homes.
“The whole family will gather at our grandparents’ homes after mass at church. We will have lunch or dinner together. Usually, we will also visit our friends and small children are given small Easter rabbits and eggs as gifts,” he said .
He compared the feeling of attending Sunday morning Mass at a church to what is now restricted to television. The family attended the prayer service through a live transmission by Good News TV – a Christian Catholic TV channel.
“Going to church and attending prayer is very different from watching it live on TV, because it only allows us to participate with our hearts and not in the flesh. At church, we will take the body and blood of Christ. But at home, we can receive it in our hearts , “he added.
Following the closure of shops and bakeries in the city, Joanna and Eden had prepared hot cross-bread at home on Holy Thursday Night. It is time for families to sit together and prepare Easter treats.
“As a family, we are all very busy in our lives. Some of us don’t even have much time to pray together. But now it has allowed us to sit together as a family and get closer to God. Maybe this is what we God wants so that we are united, “he added.
Mr. Sam shared how the family usually prepares the party and celebrates the evening before Easter.
“After the nightly event we have a party. From fish and chicken to beef and shrimp, all the best dishes are prepared to commemorate the event. While going to church is always a wonderful experience on the night before Easter, we are fortunate to be part of a virtual Mass. “at the coronavirus. We are grateful for the churches that, for our convenience, have gone out of their way to connect us with priests who will provide prayer services,” he said, his voice filled with emotion.
Sams arranged to spend their holy festival praying at home, enjoying a party and hot cross buns. But there are many people who will miss the annual ritual to feast on delicious Easter treats, especially those baked by the New JC Misquita Bakery in Saddar, which is popular with delicious hot bread.
The original JC Misquita bakery – dating from 1858 – is owned by a Christian Goan man of the same name. After he died, the bakery operation was taken over by one of his staff during the 1970s and whose family, to this day, continues to carry on the tradition of baking traditional bread.
Just like other businesses and shops throughout the city, Covid-19 impacts their annual Easter preparations. In accordance with government directives, the bakery has decided to suspend the sale of its hot crossbread in Saddar. However, the Christian community will be able to get a limited supply of bread and other Easter treats in a supermarket near Qabristan Gora near Kala Pul.
Many will definitely miss the scent of hot, freshly baked cross bread. Although some online food services also offer to offer Easter treats, with a pandemic increasing day by day, people wonder who will take the opportunity to order online.
During this unprecedented period, a person may find it difficult to be locked up at home. For the Christian community, at this time of the year, the experience of not having to go to church and commemorating their annual Easter rituals is certainly a grim reality.
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