Here’s why the Jewish festival of lights is celebrated

Hanukkah 2021: Here's why the Jewish festival of lights is celebrated


Hanukkah, based on the Hebrew word for ‘dedication’, marks the recovery of Jerusalem and the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem

Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

People across the world are celebrating the much-loved Jewish holiday Hanukkah, which began yesterday, 28 November,

Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked the occasion by wishing his Israeli counterpart Naftali Bennett and Jewish people around the globe happy Hanukkah, at the beginning of the eight-day festival. He tweeted:

Naftali Bennett, the Prime Minister of Israel thanked PM Modi in reply and wrote that the light of the two nations shines brighter than ever.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also tagged his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid and wished him happy Hanukkah.

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah, based on the Hebrew word for “dedication”, is also known as the Festival of Lights. It is celebrated across the world by the Jewish people for eight days, with many considering it the most-beloved Jewish holiday. The festival marks the recovery of Jerusalem and the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

The eight-day festival is celebrated in the United States as well and is a recognised holiday at the White House. The President of the United States celebrates Hanukkah by hosting annual Menorah lightings and parties.

Celebrations this year:

This year, Hanukkah celebration started on 28 November and will culminate on Monday, 6 December. The date of Hanukkah is determined by the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. The date of the celebration is based on the lunar cycle. The first day of the festival of light can befall anywhere from late November to December on the Gregorian calendar as per the Jewish calendar.

History:

Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Torah, unlike other Jewish holidays. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible are included in the Torah. The festival’s story is mentioned is in the post-biblical Books of the Maccabees.

The festival of lights commemorates the victory of the Maccabees,  a small army of Jewish people which fought against the army of King Antiochus IV of Syria.

The festival is marked by lighting one candle on the menorah (multibranched candelabra) on each night of the festival. A new candle is put in the menorah every night and lit from newest to oldest, with blessings being offered while each candle is lit.





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