There are almost as many Christians in Pakistan, as in my home country Norway. But Pakistan is mainly a Muslim country and Norway is mainly a Christian country. There are close to five million inhabitants in Norway and close to 150,000 Muslims. In Pakistan, with a total population now on its way to reaching two hundred million, the religious minorities, with the largest groups being the Christians, Hindus and Sikhs are over five million. In Norway and Pakistan, the minorities are small as a percentage of the respective countries populations. Yet, they are quite many in number. Besides, each religion teaches us that religious belief is individual, and each of us is responsible for our deeds and actions towards fellow human beings; and each person is a unique creation in Gods image. It is always pleasant to be abroad when there is a major religious event in the country we visit, and we can observe and are invited into the festivities, either they are religious, cultural or recreational. I have been in Pakistan and other Muslim countries during Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr, and also other Eids, many times, and I have always been invited to participate. It is one of the most memorable things I have done in Pakistan. Now Easter is here and we are in the middle of the Holy Week, as it is called by the Christians, or, the Quiet Week, 'Den stille uke, as we say in Norwegian. I hope that people of different religious beliefs can share Easter with each other. I also hope that the Pakistanis in Norway are invited to take part in the Easter holiday activities, and most of the activities are actually not religious, but cultural and recreational. Norwegians like to go skiing in the mountains, or go for long walks in the city, visit relatives, plant flowers and prepare their gardens for summer, and read books and watch TV next to the fireplace in the evenings. And then, some go to the church, too, or they feel guilty if they dont do it, yes, even so in secular Norway. Since we all know so little about other religions than our own, let me explain a bit about Easter for you, and I assume that you are a Pakistani Muslim. And if you are not, say if you are Christian, maybe what I write here can be of help when you tell your neighbour and friend about Easter. We are all curious about other peoples beliefs and traditions, if we can find the time and patience to learn about them. And we will always become richer from it, because there are so many interesting aspects and similarities between religions, not least between Islam and Christianity. Easter is the most holy of the holidays in the Christian calendar. It is not Christmas, actually, although the commercial fuss is much more around Christmas. And then, Christmas is the mid-winter feast when the daylight is least - the day is the shortest and coldest in the northern hemisphere. It gives time to celebrate, indoors mostly, with light food, family and, in our modern world, only some time for religion. And I must not forget the tradition of giving Christmas gifts to close family members and friends - a tradition which is not there for Easter. Last Christmas, in my column, I mentioned that it (Christmas) gives a message of hope and goodwill - a reminder to us all to share and do good. A celebration of the birth of a child named Jesus, whom Christians believe is the son of God, and Muslims believe is a Prophet, one of Gods most prominent messengers. Easter falls about three months after Christmas, and after a six-week period of fasting, which is not observed in many Christian traditions anymore, but still preached about. The exact time of Easter is decided by the sighting of the moon. Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after full moon after spring equinox (March 21). This year, Easter is very late, with Easter Sunday being on April 24. Later in spring, there is Ascension Day (the Holy Thursday) 40 days after Easter, when Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus was taken up to the Heaven. Ten days later, there is Whitsun Sunday, which is seen as the founding of the Christian Church, when the Holy Spirit was given to Jesus disciples, notably divine revelation and understanding of His message, and encouragement to teach and live by His word. In the Christian tradition, baptism is a symbolic act to become member of the Church. Children are baptised and in some denominations the members must re-confirm their personal faith when they become adults (called confirmation). Baptism is done by using water, either sprinkled on the child, and for adults, the body may be submerged in water, indicating that the sins are washed away and a new life begins. It shows the persons willingness to follow Jesus example, and to live by the doctrines of the Bible in a personal covenant with God. What was the content of the first Easter? We often talk about the Easter Drama. It began with the calm and beautiful Palm Sunday (last Sunday) when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and the red carpet was palm tree branches, not symbol of a king and warrior but a peoples religious leader, in the Roman occupied Palestine, or the 'Land of the Jews, who feared him although he always preached that his Kingdom was not about secular power; it was about trust in God and peace with our neighbour. This happened about 2,000 years ago in an occupied little country, in a land where people had become corrupt and dishonest, and where the religious leaders had set aside many of the covenants between man and God in the Bibles Old Testament. They administered a religion, which was more for the high priests and the clergy, rather than the ordinary people. Jesus main message, the first commandment was that people should love God, but another commandment was as important, notably that we must all love our neighbour as ourselves. And Jesus said that the old commandment of justice by 'a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye should be changed for the kinder, milder and more humane principle of 'love thy neighbour as yourself and 'turn the other cheek. Then Jesus was all of a sudden betrayed by his supporters, one of his disciples gave him in and he was tortured and executed by crucifixion - the most cruel and degrading way of time. That happened on Good Friday (tomorrow), in Norwegian known as Long Friday or 'langfredag. But then, from death and defeat, the Christian faith is based on the belief that Jesus arose from the dead on Easter Sunday. When Mary Magdalene came to the thumb were Jesus body was kept. They found that his body was gone and an angel told them: He is not here, He has arisen. This became the symbol of Gods power, Jesus power over death and evil. Whether modern men and women believe the physical resurrection, is not important (and Muslims dont believe it). What is important, the real message and meaning of Easter is that 'good can win over evil. The symbolism of Easter is to show that Gods law is more important than mans law. It is to show that human beings must live by Gods law to gain eternal life. It is to show that human beings cannot achieve eternal life through own deeds and actions and that we all fail in our relationship with God. Hence, God had to become man. Jesus, whom they said was the son of God, had to sacrifice himself to restore mans relationship with God. Easter symbolises all this. But it is my opinion that we dont have to take all elements of the Easter Drama literally. We, Christians, Muslims and all human beings should reflect on the message of faith and good deeds, how we can become better in our different faiths, and better human beings - and none of it can happen unless we let God into our hearts prevail. That is the real message of Easter. Therefore, Easter becomes a deeply religious and serious time, to people everywhere and of all faiths. Happy Easter, dear reader n The writer is a senior Norwegian social scientist based in Islamabad.