Religious Festivals Of Light – By Jasmeen

Hanukkah

Hanukkah is the festival of light for Jewish people and extremely important for them. It is the celebration of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and ancient Jewish heroes. It is over an eight day period and starts on the 25th night of the Jewish month ‘Kislev’. Hanukkah is most known, I would say, for the candle holder that holds the candles that they light each day. It consists of many festivities such as blessings, games and festive foods.  During Hanukkah a big part of it is blessings. When lighting the candles blessings are said. On the first day all three blessings are recited and on the other days, only the first two are recited. The Jewish people also sing Hanukkah-related songs and have family around. There are many feasts on food and money is distributed to all the children. It is an important religious festival for Jewish people and has been for centuries. Hanukkah came to be when 2500 years ago a Syrian king made all Jews worship Greek gods. He then put a statue is a Jewish temple and commanded them to bow down before it. However, the 10 commandments told them not to so they refused. A small group of Jews rebelled and this caused a 3-year war. The Jewish people recaptured Jerusalem from the Syrians but their temple had been destroyed in the crossfire. They started repairing it and then dedicated it to God. To do so, they lighted a Menorah, which is a lamp. They only had one jar of oil which is only enough for one day of light. But it lasted for 8 days. This is how the tradition came to be. Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of light.

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Diwali

Diwali is also the festival of lights and is celebrated by Sikhs and Hindus all around the world. It signifies that light is more powerful than the darkness and good over evil. Like Hanukkah candles play an important part in the festivities and they are displayed everywhere, in windows, on doorsteps and even on rooftops. It is customary to clean your home of ‘evil’ and maybe even renovate. It falls between mid-October to mid-November, festivities include new clothes, lighting lamps and having family around so it isn’t that different to Hanukkah. Diwali came to be when Rama’s wife,Sita was kidnapped by an evil king Ravana. However, Sita was clever and she left a trail of jewellery for Rama to follow. When Rama got to the end of the trail he came across a monkey king. They became friends and the monkey king, Hanuman agreed to help Rama in his search for Sita. They soon had all the animals on Earth helping and they fought a very fierce battle, until… the evil king was killed by a magic arrow and Rama got Sita back. Then, when they were making their way back to their land, people lighted oil lamps on their path to guide them back, this is how Diwali came to be. Diwali is the Sikh and Hindu festival of light.

Diwali

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