The final Sunday of Lent marks the beginning of Holy Week. It is known as Palm Sunday and commemorates Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem, just days before he died on the cross. The Catholic community in Goa celebrates Easter which is a feast that is supposed to be even more important than Christmas to some.
Palm Sunday celebrations
People go for mass on Palm Sunday. It’s an important day for Catholics as Holy Week begins on this day in anticipation of Easter. The day is known as such because churchgoers collect palm fronds after service. These palm leaves or fronds are a symbol of peace and victory and are used in the re-enactments of Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem.
In the holy texts, Jesus came into Jerusalem on a young donkey. The townspeople showered him with lavish praise and threw clothes, or possibly palms or small branches, in front of him as a sign of homage. This was a customary practice for people of great respect. Also, arriving on a donkey showed humbleness and humility. This was opposed to arriving on a horse which, at the time, would have been symbolic of war.
The distribution of palm leaves on Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday begins with the receiving palm fronds that are distributed at church. These are carried into church in holy procession. The palms are blessed before or during service and people usually end up fashioning them into neat crosses. These are usually placed on altars in their homes or close to images of Jesus Christ if there are any.
Palm leaves that are collected on Palm Sunday, are generally to be disposed of by burning them. Since they are blessed, as a sign of respect, it’s best to return them to the church. In this way, they can be burnt and the ashes will then be used in the following year’s Ash Wednesday services.
Palm Sunday was celebrated all over Goa as well as the world, yesterday. People attended services at chapels and churches across the state and received the palm leaves that were distributed. Now, they will prepare and look forward to the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.