Wednesday, December 21, 2011


FESTIVAL OF LIGHT CELEBRATED - Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is celebrated Dec. 20-28, 2011. On the Jewish calendar, the Hebrew dates for Hanukkah are from sundown on the 25th of Kislev to sundown on the 2nd of Tevet in the year 5772.  The Festival of Lights, an eight-day celebration, marks the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C.E. during the Maccabean revolt against oppressive Greek rulers. It is one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays - perhaps due to its proximity to Christmas on the Gregorian calendar - and is celebrated by lighting a nine-branch candelabrum commonly called a menorah.  The story of Hanukkah is one of revolution and miracles: Greek influence over the Jews in the Land of Israel was getting out of hand. Hellenism was spreading, an affront to Jewish culture and religious practice.

When the Greek ruler of the time, Antiochus, forbade Jewish religious practice, a small group of Jews, the Maccabees, revolted. The Maccabees were successful and restored the desecrated Holy Temple. The menorah in the Temple needed to be lit. Traditionally, the candelabrum burned continuously. The Temple liberators searched but could find only one vial of olive oil, enough for just one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, which was just enough time to receive a new shipment. To celebrate the miracle, Hanukkah was instituted.  Today, Jews everywhere light menorahs on each night of Hanukkah; one candle is lit for each night until the eighth night, when all eight lights shine together. Gift giving is now a common practice on Hanukkah, and it is therefore a beloved time for Jewish children.

Hanukkah, or the Jewish festival of lights has started. The holiday is celebrated over eight days by lighting candles on a menorah.  The menorah has a ninth “helper” flame - known as the shamash - used to light the other candles.  Technically, the candelabrum is called a hanukkiah to distinguish itself from the seven-branch menorah used in the Temple. A spiritually advanced person sees every religion as different aspects of Divinity and wishes that everyone to go back to God.

We are not religious sect. We are cultural sect. We are giving the highest culture to the human society, to awaken his lost consciousness. So I am very happy to see you all, American boys, Indians. This is wanted. We want to unite the whole world under this Krishna consciousness movement. And actually that is happening. In our society we have got devotees from all section of people - from Christian, from Jews, from Hindus, from Muhammadan, from black, from white. ... So it is a very serious movement. You can take. Every one of you can take advantage of it. It is not very difficult to practice, because our process is very simple. You come and chant with us Hare Krishna. Everyone can chant. And actually it is happening.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
“Complete Works of Srila Prabhupada”
General Lectures
Lecture at Detroit, on July 16, 1971
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International

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