Key words£ºHanukkah£¬Diwali£¬light 
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Genre£ºfolklore Topic£ºfestival Words:470
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We are half Jewish and half Hindu,
so we receive gifts on both the festivals of lights:
Hanukkah and Diwali.

"Hin-Jew" Festivals of Lights

Author£ºNatania Field (US) Source£ºwww.skippingstones.org  
Date£º2008-5-26 Editor£ºEmma


 
                            



(Diwali and Hunukkah)

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Whenever we talk about holidays, my mother teases my sister and me about how we "make out like bandits." She is referring to the fact that we are half Jewish and half Hindu, so we receive gifts on both the festivals of lights: Hanukkah and Diwali. Though my mother teases us, I do not mind getting two sets of gifts!

You may already be familiar with the story and traditions of Hanukkah. It is the Jewish festival of lights. When the Maccabees reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from the Greeks, they found that there was only one day's worth of oil left to light the Menorah, which had to remain lit constantly. It would take eight days to receive more oil. Miraculously, the Menorah stayed lit all eight days. For this reason, we celebrate Hanukkah for eight days, and each night, we add a new candle to the Hanukkah Menorah.

On Hanukkah, like most Jewish families, we light a Menorah and say a prayer each night. We also say a special prayer on the first night. After that, it is a tradition for my sister and me to play 'hot and cold' for our hidden Hanukkah gifts. When we walk towards the gift, our parents say 'hot,' and when we walk further away, they say 'cold.' We each receive one present every night of Hanukkah. Another part I like about this holiday is seeing family members whom we do not see often. My aunt usually stays for a few days, and we sometimes visit other relatives.

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights. One of the many stories behind Diwali comes from Ramayana, an Indian epic. King Dashratha must send Rama, his eldest son and heir to the throne, to the forest for 14 years to keep boons he had granted to one of his three wives, Kaikeyi. The boons were a gift for saving his life. She also wanted her son to be the king. However, her son refuses to sit on the throne and saves it for his eldest brother. Rama returns after winning a fierce war against a very powerful and unrighteous emperor, Ravana. The whole kingdom welcomes him home and celebrates his return.

To celebrate Diwali, my family does a pooja, or prayers, in honor the goddess Lakshmi. Since she is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, the pooja includes washing silver coins in milk and water. In India, people decorate their houses with lamps, similar to the way you might light up your house for Christmas. My family just places a few candles outside. We also set off firecrackers, which is my favorite part. We often do this activity with friends to add to the excitement.

Both holidays have different histories and stories. We celebrate them indifferent ways, yet they both have the same meaning, literally and figuratively. They both translate into Festival of Lights, and they both mean family and presents for me!

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Discussion£º

1. How do the Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah?

2. How do the Hindu people celebrate Diwali?

3. What are the similarities between Hanukkah and Diwali?

4. What is the origin of Diwali?

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