Orthodox Christians mark Easter under lockdown

Even in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic Orthodox Christians celebrated the Easter Sunday even as officials asked the people to not attend the service

The world's Orthodox Christians on Sunday celebrated Easter, the most important festival in their calendar, amid a series of restrictions and lockdowns imposed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials in Europe, the Middle East and Africa urged people not to attend services, fearing this would lead to a spike in coronavirus infections, said the BBC in a report.

However, in Georgia, worshippers were still able to attend churches.

The traditional Holy Fire ceremony went ahead in a near-deserted Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The church was closed last month and only a handful of Orthodox clergy, some of them wearing black masks, were allowed in for the ceremony on Saturday.

Easter Sunday
Representational Image Reuters

Traditions for the Easter

A candle is traditionally lit with the Holy Fire in the crypt of the Holy Sepulchre by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, to symbolise the resurrection of Jesus.

Instead of the flame being passed on to thousands of pilgrims, this time the ceremony was attended by the Armenian Orthodox patriarch, four assistants and Coptic and Syrian archbishops, Israeli media reported.

The church bells tolled and the flame was carried out of the church by Theophilos III and others to be taken to Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv and flown to 10 countries.

Russia's Orthodox Church agreed to break its annual traditions and is urging millions of believers not to attend church. Worshippers usually attend late-night processions to receive blessings.

This year services are being held only in the presence of priests and other clergy.

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