As people prepare for Good Friday tomorrow, the most solemn day of the Christian calendar, I would like to wish all my constituents well for the culmination of Holy Week.
This year, both the western and eastern branches of Christianity are celebrating Easter on the same day. This is unusual. Since the split between Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox in 1054 in what became known as the “Great Schism”, the two sides have calculated the date of Easter according to different principles.
This is partly because the Orthodox Church continues to adhere to the rule agreed at the First Ecumenical Council, held in Nicea in 325 AD, that requires that Easter must take place after the Jewish Passover in order to maintain the correct Biblical sequence. The rest of Christianity does not follow this requirement.
This year we have a cluster of holy days coming together. As well as Holy Week for both eastern and western Christians, the Jewish community have been marking Passover this week. Passover commemorates the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. It is a celebration of freedom. So I send Chag Pesach Sameach greetings to all of my Jewish constituents.
On Tuesday, Hindus celebrated Hanuman Jayanti which is a day to reflect on the selfless sacrifice of the deity, Hanuman. And for some of my constituents, tomorrow is also the New Year: Puttāṇṭu vāḻttukkaḷ or a very happy Vaisakhi for those celebrating.
Vaisakhi is not only the Sikh new year, it marks one of the key stages in how Sikhism became the religion it is today. In 1699 during Vaisakhi, the last of the ten Sikh Gurus, Guru Gobind Singh, created the Khalsa – which today is made up of all practising Sikhs.
The Christian message of renewal and hope is at the heart of Easter celebrations. I wish everyone a very Happy Easter. Whichever faith you follow, I hope that you all have a chance for some well-deserved rest and time with family and friends over the bank holiday weekend.