Christians in UAE attend daylong prayers on Good Friday

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Vicar explains the special service held at St Thomas Orthodox Cathedral
Good Friday mass at St Mary’s Catholic Church. Thousands attended prayers at various churches across the UAE.Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
Jumana Khamis, Staff Reporter
Dubai: Thousands of Christian residents in Dubai and across the country observed Good Friday by attending prayers at their churches from the early morning until late afternoon.

The annual Christian observance of the Holy Week is a time of reflection and solemn prayer, which commemorates Jesus Christ’s passion.

Worshippers across the country have been devoting more time to prayers during this week, which began on Palm Sunday and includes the commemoration of Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday and resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The week ends on Holy Saturday, which is the final day of the Lenten season.

Gulf News spoke with vicar Fr Shaji Mathews at St Thomas Orthodox Cathedral in Dubai, who said that over 18,000 worshippers, some wearing traditional dresses, attended the day-long Good Friday service at the church.

“The prayers coincided with full-day fasting and chanting of hymns which started at 7.30am. Bishop Abraham Mar Eppiphanios, metropolitan of Sulthan Bathery diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, led the service,” he said.

The church also provided all worshippers with a free meal service, which included rice gruel and a simple vegetarian dish with pickles, after breaking their fast around 5pm.

Fr Mathews explained that Good Friday falls within the Holy Week during 50 days of Lent that comes to an end on Sunday when Easter is celebrated.

“Abstaining from non-vegetarian food, avoiding dairy products, fasting at least till afternoon, increasing the intensity of prayers and prostrations come within the purview of Great Lent,” he added.

Fr Mathews said Good Friday service also included prayers of the canonical hours denoting episodes of Jesus being betrayed, judged at different courts, sentenced, persecuted, procession to Calvary carrying the cross, crucifixion and burial.

A vigil prayer started after 6pm on Friday, and is due to end at 6am on Saturday.