Why is Hanukkah celebrated

Festivals and fairs are colorful canvases that depict the spirit of any culture or religion. Some call it the Festival of Lights, some call it the Festival of Dedication; the essence of the festival of Hanukkah remains as fragrant as ever. This festival spans over eight days and is celebrated with remarkable zeal in the Jewish community all over the world. In a way, this festival is a thread that runs through each Jew on Earth, though separated from his community by geographical distances.

Hanukkah is a significant part of the social and spiritual make up of the Jewish community. The celebrations of this festival have their regional flavors, but most of the methods and ceremonies remain same. Every Jewish house hosts a special candle stand. This nine armed candelabrum is called the Menorah. Each day is marked by the lighting up of a candle on this stand. Most Jews wait for at least an hour after the dark before beginning with the ceremony of lighting up the candle. A special candle, called the shamsh is used to light up the remaining candles every time and it is required that this candle be kept either at the top of all others, or at the bottom of the other candles. Shamash, in Jewish terms, translates into ‘a guardian’. There is plenty of historical color to this festival as well. It so happened that Judaism was outlawed in Jerusalem. Mattathias, a Jewish priest, revolted against the building of a temple for Zeus by Antiochus. Mattathias’ son, Judah continued his father’s struggle even after the former had died. His efforts bore fruit and the integrity of the Jewish temple was restored. Celebrations to commemorate the event began and the festival was called the Hanukkah.

The entire temple was sanitized. However, they did not have enough oil to light up the temple. Legend has it that though the oil was barely enough to last a single day, it ended up standing the storm for eight complete days, and this period was precisely the time required to procure a fresh supply of oil. Thus was created the grand festival of Hanukkah. This festival united Jews to their history and traditions and forms an integral part of their culture. As with most festivals, the advent of times has brought variations in the manners of celebration, but Hanukkah retains its charm and glory. Every Jew performs the ceremonies of Hanukkah whole-heartedly and keeps the cultural candle alive.