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Celebrating Easter in Leicestershire with baptism and bonnets

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Worshippers plunged into a freezing outdoor water tank as part of an atmospheric baptism ceremony at dawn to celebrate Easter Sunday.

The build-up to the service began on Saturday, when about 100 people gathered at Leicester Cathedral for an all-night prayer vigil and to remember the Easter story.

Just before dawn, they went outside to light candles from a bonfire, bringing light into the cathedral, before an outdoor baptism as the sun came up.

Kumari Neelam, 43, from Rowlatts Hill, Leicester, was one of eight people to be baptised.

"It was very good and I am feeling very good. I have now gone forward to Jesus Christ, our saviour," she said.

"I am very happy to be baptised and now I feel very free and I feel alive."

Teenager Reese Musk, from Syston, said it was a ceremony he had been looking forward to for a long time.

The 19-year-old said: "Since I was little I have wanted to do this and I just never did.

"Now I have done it, it feels right.

"It was brilliant. I was a bit nervous beforehand – and it was really cold – but as soon as it was happening I was fine."

Ravinder Kaur, 35, from Beaumont Leys, Leicester, was also baptised.

She said: "At the time, lots of things were going through my head.

"My mum was baptised already and she asked me if I wanted to do it.

"I read up about it and my priest asked if I wanted to do it on Easter Sunday and I thought 'yes'."

The service, which began with a bonfire in darkness and ended with the first sunlight, symbolised the Christian belief that Jesus brings light to the world, even in death.

Entering the water and then emerging symbolises resurrection.

The ceremony was led by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens.

"It was a joyous occasion, with eight new Christians making a commitment to follow Jesus Christ after a night of prayer," he said.

"I was particularly encouraged that this included people of other races and different faith backgrounds."

Homemade chicks and carefully-coloured paper eggs adorned hats at an Easter bonnet parade.

Dozens of children made elaborate headgear for the event held at Leicester Market.

Ayaan Khan, from the city centre, made his hat with some help from mum Nishath.

The five-year-old said: "I had to get some things from the shop to help me make it and then stick it all on with some glue.

"I like the sparkling bits that are on the front and the bits that are hanging off.

"I learnt about Easter at school and I know that the Easter bunny will come and give us some Easter eggs and he will hide them and I will have to find where he put them."

Richard Dowsing, six, from Glenfield, made his Easter bonnet, complete with dangling eggs and a huge chicken, by himself. Even if he did leave mum Bridgette to do the clearing up.

"I cut some eggs out and put some stickers on it and then coloured them in," said Richard.

"I made it all by myself because I love making things. I like it because I like the eggs hanging off my hat and the big chicken, too."

Proud mum Bridgette, said: "He's very creative. Anything to do with arts and crafts, you just set it out and away he goes."

Nine-year-old Lucy Houghton took inspiration from the seaside for her tall Easter hat.

"It has a slide that goes round the hat and then a bit of sea at the bottom," said the youngster, from Hinckley.

"I got the idea from my mum and I have never made a bonnet before.

"I think I might do really well because I think they will like how it pops out – like 3D."

Three children from each category won a bike, paid for by donations from traders.

In the six and under age category the winners were: Rhys Taylor, four, from Syston; Harshiv Naker, five, from Abbey Park, and Gabriella Webster, three, from Saffron Lane

In the eight to 12 age category the winners were: Jade Owen, nine, from Birstall, Kira, seven, from Braunstone, and Kyil, nine, from Narborough.

There was also Easter family fun at Great Central Railway, which has been holding a vintage festival over the bank holiday weekend.

Quorn and Woodhouse stations were filled with traction engines, steam rollers, showman's and miniature steam engines, steam lorries and other historic commercial vehicles.

One of the star attractions was an 1898 Gavioli fairground organ, on display for the first time since 1923.

There were craft and trade stalls, a children's funfair at Rothley and a real ale tent with live music.

Celebrating Easter in Leicestershire with baptism and bonnets


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