How I Celebrate Easter

Ritu Tiru Agarwal   |   March 27, 2024 

Imagine if, as we parted ways on Easter eve, I casually mentioned, ‘See you tomorrow at 3 a.m. in the graveyard,’ with a bright smile on my face. You might raise an eyebrow at the thought. And understandably so—who plans to meet in a graveyard at 3 a.m. and looks forward to it? I cannot predict your reaction, but this would be considered quite normal in my ancestral place of Ranchi. In our tradition, we look forward to our rendezvous in the graveyard on Easter. 

The Easter service takes place in the graveyard. Meeting in the graveyard at three in the morning might sound eerie, but the place is anything but eerie. There is a fair-like atmosphere with lights all around and joy written over the faces of everyone you meet. You’ll see happy people with happy faces. There are colourful flowers and candles on freshly white-washed graves. No grave is without flowers.

Easter for me has never been about Easter eggs or bunnies, but it has always been about family and flowers. The festivities surrounding Easter have been exciting for me because of the unique way we celebrate Christ's resurrection. The celebration revolves around remembering loved ones and rejoicing in the hope of seeing them again.

As families sit next to their loved ones' graves, they also scan the crowd to see familiar faces whom they only get to meet this time of the year. As parents hold their children's hands and guide them through the maze of graves to place flowers on the grave of a dear one, I am reminded of how my parents did the same when I was a child.

Traditionally, people didn’t buy flowers but gathered them from the forests or picked them from their backyards. My childhood memories are of my cousins bringing flowers from the forest on Saturday and the family sitting together through the night, making wreaths and small arrangements for the graves of all our family members. Children were given the more manageable tasks, but everyone was involved as we made wreaths and remembered our loved ones. We used whatever was easily available and made extra arrangements for the forgotten graves.

As time passed, forests were depleted, families disintegrated, and this ritual stopped. Nowadays, people buy exotic flowers and ready-made wreaths. While city folks place store-bought flowers, villagers arrange frangipani and bougainvilleas picked from their backyards. But even now, you can still see the love of a family displayed on the graves of their loved ones in the form of neatly arranged flowers from their backyard. You will still see children decorating their grandparents' graves under their parents' direction, keeping the tradition alive.

I do not know how this tradition began or its theological basis. Honestly, it does not matter. I am glad that each year, this celebration in the graveyard reminds me of the hope we have in the resurrected Christ of seeing our loved ones again. 

My tickets are booked, and I'm looking forward to celebrating Easter in the midst of family and flowers. Though I will dearly miss my father and brother, sitting beside their graves will serve as a poignant reminder of the hope I hold dear—the hope of seeing and celebrating with them again because He lives.

“Death is a horrible and inevitable sorrow. It is grief.
It is numb shock and raw pain and long seasons of weeping and ache.
And we will experience it as such. 

But it is more than all of that.

For it is also a baptism, a prelude to a celebration.
Our true belief that Christ died and was raised again promises this great hope:
That there will be a newness of life,
a magnificent resurrection that follows death and swallows it entirely.

Death will not have the final word,
so we need not fear to speak of it."


An Exhortation Making Space to Speak of Dying, Every Moment Holy II by Douglas McKelvey


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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Ritu Tiru Agarwal

Ritu enjoys a variety of things like travelling, baking and gardening but she’s passionate about flowers and loves working with them. She’s pursuing theological studies as well as working with a theology school and also finds time to pursue her passion of working with flowers especially with wedding bouquets and favours.

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3 comments on “How I Celebrate Easter”

  1. Nostalgic. Took me back to our childhood and youth days. This is exactly how I remember celebrating Easter in Ranchi. Yes, no Easter eggs or Easter bunny. As a kid the happiest and fun part was making wreath and cross from bougainvillea (from home garden) and palash (from the jungle), sitting on a chatai with the entire family (ours was a big one, with 7 kids). As I grew up, I remember waiting for the day when we would drive or cycle to the forest to pluck flowers.
    Sigh! No such tradition here in Mumbai.

  2. Wow, a beautiful post! I never knew of such a unique tradition. It sounds special. And yes, a wonderful reminder of the hope we have in Christ. Thank you for sharing.

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