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The Easter celebration

Apr 21, 2011, 1:56 PM

As with Christmas so also Easter, Gambians celebrate with a difference. Gambians celebrate Christmas with special Gambian features, so distinct from anywhere else in the world.

Aside from the religious ceremonies and rituals, there are also the cultural activities portraying Gambian cooking, dance, group functions, masquerade, fanal, and kankurang, among other forms of this special Gambian festivity.
For the feast of Easter also, certain celebrations are wholly Gambian. The main feature of the celebration, of course, centers on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through which, according to Christian belief, the world is saved from the deadly effects of sin.

This belief is central to Christianity and is, therefore, given special prominence, and significance in churches around the world, including The Gambia.
But outside church walls, the Gambian celebration assumes different and unique characteristics.

First, there is Nann-burru on Good Friday, the day Christ was crucified. This is a Gambian meal known only in Gambia and parts of Senegal, particularly Dakar and Goree. The preparation has a base of pounded rice rolled by hand into little rice balls that are pressure-steamed over the fire.

Over the rice balls is later poured sweetened juice of the baobab fruit. The finished product is well-loved by children and grownups alike, and generously served in the family, as well as to non-Christian neighbours, particularly Muslim friends and relatives.

This meal could, and is sometimes repeated, on Easter Sunday the day of Christ’s resurrection.
On Good Friday, there is also the traditional beating of Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, and one of his twelve apostles. An effigy of Judas is prepared from sackcloth stuffed with rags, and dressed with an old hat, some old clothing, and a pipe sticking out of the mouth.

The effigy is displayed all morning on Good Friday, and at the appropriate time (usually around 12 noon or shortly after), Judas is attacked with sticks and clubs and beaten to pieces. This activity is said to punish Judas while also creating an outlet for the venting of spiritual anger and frustration.
On Easter Sunday, there is jubilation and merry-making over the resurrection, and once more the Gambian masquerades and special social functions of Christmas re-appear in full force.

The spirit of jubilation and triumph is maintained by Gambians with the flying of huge kites (nawal), picnics, all through forty days to the day of Christ’s ascension to heaven.
The making of kites gives the Gambian artist an opportunity to come up with interesting kite designs with special Gambian features and materials.
It is always unique and joyful in The Gambia at Christmas and Easter.

All Christians are wished a happy and blessed Easter.
“One religion is as true as another”

Robert Burton