Catholics in Malawi and around the world trooped to churches on Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the 40-day Lenten season.
Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) secretary general Father Henry Saindi said Lent starts on Wednesday 1 March and end on Thursday 13 April.
He said as the priest dabs a person’s forehead with ash, is a symbol based on a concept from the book of Genesis that humankind came into the world from dust, and will return to it upon death.
Lent commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert preparing for his ministry.
Fr Saindi said Ash Wednesday also marks the beginning of fasting for Catholics. They are encouraged to pray more often, repent their sins and be more generous to the poor through almsgiving.
“Fasting is symbolic. You do away with certain pleasures to be aware that we are not bound for certain things; that we are more than that,” said Fr Saindi.
Saindi said Lent is a time of reflection and it also heralds the preparation for the season of Easter.
This year, Palm Sunday, or the beginning of the Holy Week, falls on April 9.