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Hanukkah-the Festival of lights is celebrated to commemorate the reestablishment of the Jewish temple and belief. It is also celebrated as a reminder of the holiday miracle.
History of Hanukkah-the festival of lights has in its background, the revolt of the Jews under the leadership of Judah Maccabee, against the Seleucid rule, who invaded Judea and enforced Hellenization of Jews; the Seleucid empire sought to destroy the Jewish beliefs, and views of Jewish religion. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who headed the Seleucid empire, pillaged the temple of the Jews in Jerusalem and put an end to Jewish beliefs and practices like animal sacrifice, circumcision etc. The revolt of Jews, under the leadership of Judah Maccabees, successfully redeemed the temple of the Jews and the beliefs of the Jewish religion.
On the success of Judah Maccabee of redeeming the temple, there was not sufficient olive oil for the eternal lamp in the temple to burn. However, the oil lasted for eight days, the time required to prepare fresh consecrated oil for the lamp. Hanukkah-the festival of lights is thus celebrated to commemorate the “miracle of the container of oil"
Hanukkah-being the festival of lights, every day for eight nights, a candle is lit. Each day, one candle is lit to increase the number. The Shamah, meaning guard or servant, an additional light, is used to light the others and is assigned a place in the top, bottom or on the sides of the arrangement.
Kindling of Lights
The lights are either candles, or oil lamps and electric lights are also permitted where an open flame is not admissible in a place like a hospital. The lights are lit in the dusk, when the sun is down and placed at the door step or near the windows for easy visibility, as a reminder of the holiday miracle. The festival is not observed like a sabbath. People engage in prayers and then go about with the normal day to day activities. However, they return early to kindle the lights. The candle, on the first day is lit on the right side of the candelabrum or Menorah. On the second day, the candle is lit to the left of the first day's candle, following for the rest of the days from right to left for the eight nights.
Hanukah Blessing Over Candles
Blessings or Brachot or Brachah, of three types are recited on the first day, with only the first two on the following days. The blessings are recited before or after the lighting of candles, usually varying according to tradition.
Let us remind ourselves of Hanukkah-the festival of lights's miracle, when it is celebrated across the world.