The Festivals of Lights
There are two different festivals of lights. One is Diwali, a religious festival associated with Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism often referred to as the Festival of Lights. This is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn (northern hemisphere) or spring (southern hemisphere) every year. Diwali is one of the largest and brightest festivals in Hinduism.
The festival of lights spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed.
The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.
Another festival of light is Hanukkah which is the Jewish Festival and it celebrates the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (Hanukkah is the Jewish word for ‘dedication’). This happened in the 160s BC (before Jesus was born). The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees.
Hanukkah lasts for eight days and starts on the 25th of Kislev, the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs at about the same time as December. Because the Jewish calendar is lunar (it uses the moon for its dates), Kislev can happen from late November to late December.
This festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched menorah. The typical menorah consists of eight branches with an additional visually distinct branch. The extra light, with which the others are lit, is called a shamash.
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