Purim which exactly means “lots” (as to casting of lots) is a Jewish festival in which the Jews are celebrating the day of their salvation from the villain, Haman who is the adviser of King Achashverosh of the Persian Empire, who plotted to destroy and wipe out all the Jews in just a single day. It is one of the most exciting and joyful celebration anticipated by the Jews every year.
The Story in a Nutshell
The plot of Haman that supposed to be taken effect on the 13th day of Adar was thwarted by Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai when she revealed her real identity as a Jew and that somebody has planned to destroy all the Jews in the empire including her. The king was so furious when he discovered it and so he immediately ordered Haman, the instigator of this evil plot to be hanged in the gallows which Haman himself made for Mordecai.
The Jews however, on the 13th day of Adar have been ordered by the King to defend themselves from their angry enemies and were able to kill thousands of them on that same day. They celebrated their triumph on the 14th day of Adar. This celebration has been directed by Queen Esther to be written in the Bible to be remembered by every generation that even though God seem didn’t appeared in the entire story, the Jews knew the fact that God has orchestrated these things and miraculously delivered them by using one person to be in the royal position to back them up to the king of Persia.
In Jerusalem, they celebrate Purim on the 15th day of Adar as of the Jews in the story continue to fought against their enemies in the walled city of Shushan on the 14th day of Adar.
What do the Jews do on Purim
In the modern day Israel, the celebration of Purim has become more exciting and extravagant. There are fun-filled activities and stuffs that the children of all ages are looking forward to during the day. You will see children and even adults wearing and dressing up a costume of those characters in the Purim story while others dress-up in non- Purim-related costumes. Purim indeed is a time for merry making in masquerades, costumes, feasting, beauty pageant, and most of all, the gift-giving. Giving of money and gifts to their families and friend is also the highlight of this wonderful celebration.
Allegory of these Purim Customs
Some Jews wear their costumes with masks, getting ready for the masquerade which symbolizes the disguise made by Esther in concealing her Jewish identity to the king. There are also beauty pageants that commemorate the search of the king for the upcoming queen of Persia.
It is also part of the raucous celebration to make a loud noise with noisemaker called ra’ashan in Hebrew that whenever the name of Haman is mentioned, they use it; and sometimes they stomp their feet so the name of Haman is blotted out. Some wrote the name of Haman on the soles their shoes to show their contempt and hatred over that man.
Another tradition is the Purim Spiel with which they dramatize and reenact the Purim story in a very hilarious and comical way, or in a simple skit played by adults and kids in costumes. There are also Purim puppet shows in some of the places that the children will surely enjoy.