This day is important for more than one religion, in two distinctly different parts of the world.
The first holiday I stumbled across, was Purim.
Purim, a Jewish festival that falls on different dates each year on the Western calendar, but routinely falls on the 13th day of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). This year, 2020, the festival lasts from sunset tonight until nightfall tomorrow.
I must say, I have had very little exposure to Jewish customs and culture. Throughout my life, I have rarely met anyone willing to talk about it, as though talking in itself was a crime. And so, researching this holiday really highlighted just how little discussion there often is, and just how fascinating it can be to learn about new holidays. Especially when there is such a strong historical element, as Purim holds.
So, for readers like myself who, before now, knew next to nothing of Purim, this holiday marks the salvation of the Jewish people in Persia, from a powerful man known as Haman. Haman had plotted “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day” (quote from the Megillah, or book of Esther).
The people were fortunate that Esther, the wife of the Persian king Ahasuerus, was a smart woman. She had kept the truth about her heritage quiet when she married the king, knowing that some people, including Haman, the prime minister, held severe hatred for her people. But, when Haman petitioned the king to allow him to rid the land of the Jewish people, Esther invited the king and Haman for a feast, where she revealed to them both that she was Jewish herself. The king was furious at being used by Haman, and in his adoration for his wife he sentenced Haman to be hanged, and appointed Mordechai, leader of the Jewish people, as his new prime minister.
The 13th day of Adar had been the day Haman was planning to execute the people, but instead every year the people celebrate and remember the wise queen.
When we look back through history and tradition, hoping to find strong, relatable figures, Esther seems a good role model for women to follow. I look forward to reading more accounts about her in the future, and sharing any interesting stories I find on here.
The second holiday I found was Holi. Happy Holi folks! Are you ready for love, for hope, for spring? Because that’s what this holiday means for Hinduism – it’s a time for people to come together to repair the wounds of the past, and look towards tomorrow with hope and optimism.
The festivities last a night and a day, starting on Purnima (the full moon day) according to the Hindu calendar. On the first night people gather and pray for their evil to be burned away, and on the next morning people celebrate together, smearing colours all over their friends and family. They play games and music, and just have an all-round amazing time with each other. The celebration is so fun that people throughout Asia have embraced the holiday, despite religious differences. A party’s a party, after all!
So, the 9th March this year is one hell of a day. Even if you aren’t a Hindu, or Jewish, go out there and celebrate with your family and neighbours. It’s the perfect day for it.
For further reading I recommend: