Ideally if a cricket World Cup is on, Praveet Stephen wouldn’t be anywhere else but in front of his TV screen. But this time around, the 15-year-old hasn’t quite indulged in his passion with the same fervour.
For the next 40 days beginning Wednesday, the Stephen family — Praveet, his 18-year-old sister Princy, mother Jolly and father Stephen — is observing Lent by giving up television, Facebook or movies. “I will miss cricket but I’m willing to make that sacrifice. It’s also my Class 10, so I want to be extra nice,” says Praveet.
In the age where social media and television shows are some of the biggest ‘temptations’, some Mumbai Christian families have chosen to sacrifice these instead of the traditional fasting and praying during Lent.
“We will ensure we spend an hour in prayer each day and attend mass every day during Lent, besides giving up non-vegetarian food,” said Jolly Stephen, Praveet’s mother. Ash Wednesday for Christians marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting, prayer and repentance in preparation for Easter.
For Yorrick Creado (22), an engineering student, lent is a time to atone for all the “crap” he did throughout the year. “I ‘binge watch’ shows like the Game of Thrones over the weekends, but starting today, there will be no more downloading of shows,” he says. Creado, who has been observing Lent since he was in Class 8, said he began with giving up cartoons, then television and now these shows. “It’s really tough but that’s what makes it a sacrifice,” Creado said.
The Bombay Archdiocese has also encouraged new versions of ‘abstinence’ this year by encouraging Catholics to practice ‘carbon fasting’. “It is wonderful that youngsters are giving up their indulgence into social media and gadgets this Lent. Instead of using social media to show how cool or hep your life is, we can now use it to promote good causes and encourage others to do so during Lent,” said Fr Nigel Barrett, spokesperson for the Bombay Archdiocese. “The Church is also trying to modify the traditional concepts of abstinence, fasting and charity, and find modern forms that appeal to the younger generation. We have encouraged carbon fasting and have asked Catholics to do whatever they can to improve the environment as caring of the environment was introduced by the Vatican recently.”
Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias invited the Christian community to do all in their power to reduce carbon footprint through a daily activity of carbon fasting.
Besides giving up material luxuries, for some Christians, Lent is a period of introspection and self-improvement. “While I think any sacrifice is great, I prefer to ‘right’ my wrongs during Lent. Last year, I made attempts to bring together my estranged family. More than giving up vices, I use Lent to reflect on my personality and try to do better by reading books based on the Bible. In fact, last Lent, I read the Geeta and Quran for inspiration- That’s Lent for me,”said Rick Gonsalves, 34, a tax consultant.