LAHORE: Ash Wednesday which marked the beginning of the period of Lent began with Christians across Pakistan fasting. Special prayers were held in all churches and chapels.

Before Easter, Christians observe a period of Lent. This is treated as a period of reflection and a time for fasting from food and festivities. It symbolises the days which lead up to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, when Christ spent 40 days and nights alone in the Judaean Desert being tempted by Satan.

Lent lasts 46 days, but Sundays are not included in the overall count. That means it is observed for 40 days in the run-up to Easter, and is time when people fast. No weddings and celebrations are held during the period of Lent. Christians avoid eating meat during Lent.

On Ash Wednesday Christians mark the occasion by making cross on the forehead with the ash. The ashes used on Ash Wednesday are made from the burning of palms from Palm Sunday the year before. Members of the clergy distribute the ashes in the form of a cross smudged on the forehead of people.

"Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return," priests tell parishioners. Outside of Easter and Christmas, the ritual is one of the most attended in the Christian calendar

Ash Wednesday prayers were led at the Lahore Cathedral by the very Reverend Shahid Mehraj in morning and in evening.