It's the time of Lent for the Christian world. Here, in Kerala, as a member of an Oriental Orthodox Church, this Lent is the most important one and is observed for 7 weeks. Lent for us started on the 4th of this month.
I have decided to observe Lent this year, as I have a couple of times before. My sisters-in-law all observe this Lent, as do occasionally the brothers-in-law (not my husband though). During these 7 weeks (actually 48 days as the fast begins on a Monday and ends on Easter Sunday) those who observe the Lent give up meat, fish, alcohol and sometimes eggs & milk. I have decided to give up meat and fish and try not to eat eggs. My sisters will mostly not eat eggs too, which therefore means cakes and custards etc. I remember my husband's grandmother giving up meat, fish, eggs, milk & milk products too, which I know used to be a real sacrifice for her. She used to observe all the Lents in the Church calendar. So much so, the rest of the year, she used to refuse to eat any vegetables, saying she had eaten enough during the different Lenten seasons to last her for the rest of the year:)
During this period of Lent our community--on the whole--becomes very subdued, as this Lent is observed by many Christians of other denominations too. There are no weddings, as weddings are not permitted during Lent and rarely parties, as most of our men are ardent fans of meat, fish and alcohol and a party without all 3 is unbearably dull! Add to that, it is examination time in the school year around this time. Many people take this time to diet stringently too; after all it's much easier with so few social events.
It's during this Lent particularly that all kinds of interesting vegetarian food items appear in the shops, which you wouldn't see normally. They don't seem to appear so much during the 24 day pre-Christmas Lent, probably because far fewer people observe that Lent.
In the Orthodox Calendar there are many Lents of different lengths, this being the longest. I did try to find a site to link to which would explain them, but couldn't come up with a comprehensive site.
All the other women in the family (my husband's family) are all more practising and stauncher Christians than I am. On of the younger ones told me that apparently our Church has a service everyday from around 12 to 12.30 p.m. (about which I knew nothing though born into this Church). One was traditionally supposed to have the first meal of the day only after this service was over. During this service of half and hour, one is supposed to genuflect 70 times. She says she goes most days and genuflects the 70 times. I have to confess that I doubt I would be able to genuflect even twice. She also told me that there is a service on the morning of the Monday that Lent begins. She was telling me that the priest preached a sermon that this day one is supposed to forgive all the hurts anyone might have done to us; that there is no point observing Lent with anger and lack of forgiveness in our hearts. I thought that was a wonderful point. I must say it's interesting to learn things I didn't know, about the Church I have technically been a part of for the past 56 years.
So to all my blog friends, my special prayers for you all this Lenten season. May you all have time to meditate and to get rid of some hurts in your heart.