Christians in the city observed Ash Wednesday marking the first of 40 days of Lent, when they will participate in fasting, prayer and reflection ahead of Easter.

Most churches had special mass on Ash Wednesday, with many observing a long period of silence during the mass as devotees are asked to reflect on their sins and ask God for forgiveness.

The ashes are then given as a sign of repentance and purification, representing how the human body turns to dust after death.

In a marked difference from the usual practice of drawing a cross of ashes on the forehead, the Covid-19 pandemic saw most priests sprinkling the ashes on the devotee’s head instead of the cross on the forehead.

From the time of receiving ashes, practising Christians will fast for 40 days from rich foods, avoiding mostly non-vegetarian food and fast until sunset or by having only small snacks or one meal, with the fast being observed in different ways in different places.

Ash Wednesday is being reportedly observed since the 11th century AD.

The ashes used are made from a mixture of different things, with the main ingredient being the ashes of palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday.

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