Thiruvananthapuram: Christians in Kerala on Friday were out in large numbers and local hurches were overflowing as they participated in the Good Friday mass.
This Friday's mass commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Mount Calvary in Jerusalem, nearly 2,000 years ago.
The Good Friday mass timings differ according to church denominations, starting from 8.30 a.m and ending in some churches as late as 3 p.m.
The main event of the day in the churches is the re-enactment by worshippers of the 'Way of the Cross' - the 14 stations on Christ's final journey to Mount Calvary from the palace Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the province.
The chief priest, who conducts the day's mass, along with a large number of the laity re-enact Jesus' journey with the worshippers moving to each station singing hymns as the story of the betrayal, arrest, trial and crucifixion of Christ is narrated by the priest.
The most important ritual in this mass is the drinking of 'choruka' - a decoction made of bitter gourd juice and vinegar - by all the devotees. When the Good Friday mass reaches its last lap, the priest pours out a spoon of 'choruka' into the mouth of each and every person attending the mass.
This symbolises the event of Christ crying out while on the cross, on hearing which some onlookers dipped a piece of cloth in cheap wine and lifted it to his mouth to make him drink just before he died.
At the end of the Good Friday mass in Kerala, those attending are served 'kanji' - the steaming hot gruel made of rice along with mango pickle and a serving of pulses.
The next major event takes place on Sunday morning, when the 'Passion Week' ends with the Easter Sunday festival which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.