Purim is a festival and holiday in the Jewish calendar. The 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar is celebrated as the Purim. This is a one day holiday that usually falls in the month of February or March. This is the most popular holiday amongst the Jewish and is considered to be celebrated even in the messianic days. The basic of the festival lies in the Purim story from the book of Esther. The name of the festive came from the story that the villain cast the “pur” which means “the lot” against the Jews but failed to destroy them.
The Purim story
The event of the story starts in Persia around 450 BC. At the time the Jewish people were living in captivity of the King. One of the senior officials of the king named Haman, marked as the villain, took offense against a Jewish man, Mordecai, as he was not ready to bow down before Haman. And Haman planned to kill all the Jewish as revenge. Mordecai on knowing this plan, informed his cousin Esther, who was married to the king and with the intervention of Esther, the king ordered to kill Haman and replaced him with Mordecai in his official duty. The essence of the story is that, even if not present directly, God always helps and protects his followers.
Reading the Story of Purim from the Book of Esther is the most important part of the festival. Jews attend synagogue to hear the reading of the story. As a custom, whenever the name of Haman is pronounced in the story, they express dislikes for him with howl, hoot and noises. The commandment of hearing the Purim Story applies to both women and men.
The Megilah reading is attended by the adults and children mostly dressed in costume clothing. Traditionally they used to dress up like the characters of the story, but nowadays, dressing like any of the famous characters like Harry Potter, Batman or wizards is enjoyed by the people. The Synagogues also hold purim carnivals.
Food makes an important part of the festive. The festive starts with a fast that extends from sundown to sundown that signifies the three days fast Esther and Mordecai had taken to seek the guidance from God. According to the Biblical commands, the event is celebrated with feasting. Seudah is called the prime festive meal at Purim and is taken in the afternoon.
The Hamantashen cookie is marked as the traditional food that bears symbolic significance with the festive. These cookies are essentially triangular shaped and stuffed with sweet fruits or jelly. Another custom is to send the Mishloach manot to the homes of the other Jews. These are baskets filled with drink and fruits and contain atleast two types of ready to eat food. This is usually coordinated by the synagogues. The other custom related to drinking is that, adults of drinking age should drink to the limit so that they could not distinguish between Mordechai and Haman. Donating money to needy people and indulging in other kinds of charity are the other characteristics of this festival.