Celebrating Easter and other religious festivals in the West Country during the coronavirus lockdown

This Easter will be very different for the thousands of Christians in our region because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Good Friday processions have been cancelled and churches are closed. The Jewish community are also unable to come together to celebrate Passover, which started this week. But many places of worship are streaming live services to keep people connected.

In Bath a community passion play telling the story of Jesus' journey to the cross and his resurrection had been due to take place today, Good Friday, 10 April 2020, in the heart of the city.

Like many events cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, hundreds of people who put in hundreds of hours of work to rehearse and organise it were disappointed. The Director of "One Good Friday", Lloyd Notice, promises it will take place in Parade Gardens next year, 2021.

We're really hoping that One Good Friday will be on again on 2 April, 2021. We are full of hope for this. We are as a community of Christians praying for this.

Lloyd Notice, Director, One Good Friday

People cannot gather together, due to the lockdown restrictions but places of worship have found other ways to keep people connected.

Many churches are streaming live services over Easter and people are also able to worship using conference calls and other modern technology.

April 2020 - This empty church in Odd Down, Bath lit up in blue as a thank you to the key workers in the area. Credit: St Philip and St James Church

Philip Jinadu, who is the Team Leader of Woodland's Metro Church, Bristol says Easter is particularly important at a time when our lives have changed so radically.

At a time like this I think people are looking for hope, for reassurance and actually, with all the normal things of life taken away from us, we're beginning to look at the spiritual questions.

Philip Jinadi, Team Leader, Woodlands Metro Church, Bristol
April 2020 - A Jewish family celebrates Passover with relatives during the lock down, thanks to the Internet. Credit: PA

Easter takes place during Passover, when the Jewish community remembers the moment the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.

It's a key time for extended families to come together to share meals - something that is impossible during the Covid-19 lock down. But technology has come to the rescue - with people able to link up thanks to video conferencing programmes like Zoom.

Tonight at 7.46pm, members of the Jewish community across the West Country will be lighting candles ahead of the Sabbath while Passover - or pesach - comes to a close on Thursday, 18 April.

May 2019 - Mass street party in Easton in Bristol celebrating the end of Ramadan. This year's has had to be cancelled. Credit: ITV West Country

The region's Muslim community is getting ready for Ramadan in a few weeks - which will again be very different as the lockdown continues.

It starts on Thursday 23 April and ends on Saturday 23 May 2020.

The holy month commemorates the moment the Qur'an was first revealed to the prophet Muhammad. Members don't eat or drink from dawn till dusk but then share a meal together - known as the Iftar.

May 2019 - The whole community joined in the mass communal meal in Bristol. Credit: ITV West Country

The current situation means that the mass gatherings that traditionally take place are banned.

A 'Grand Iftar' planned in Bristol next month to mark Eid, the festival at the end of Ramadan, has had to be cancelled. In 2019, more than 6,000 people joined in the huge street party.

But again there are virtual ways to share together.

Fahim, whose family runs a Bengali restaurant in Bath - closed because of the current situation - says "you can make your home your mosque".

April 2018 - Members of the UK's Sikh community celebrate Vaisakhi - gatherings like this one are banned at the moment. Credit: PA

Bank Holiday Monday coincides with probably the most important day in the Sikh calendar, Vaisakhi.

ITV West Country, covered the traditional procession in 2013:

Vaisakhi is an annual spring festival - this year it's on Monday 13 April. It celebrates the founding of the Sikh community, the Khalsa, in 1699.

Sikhs usually attend the temple or Gurdwara first thing and afterwards can join in a colourful procession through the streets - but not in 2020.

Plymouth councillor Chaz Singh, who was guest of honour at the Bristol procession in 2013. says there are plenty of resources available online for Sikhs to worship from home.

Cllr Chaz Singh with food bank chairman, Alan Dunne, working to help people in these difficult times. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Food Action

Cllr Singh has been helping out at a local food bank, Devon and Cornwall Food Action, which has been getting aid to hundreds of people in isolation in the community.

Chaz says everyone can find positive ways to practise their faith while the crisis continues.