Sukkot is a Jewish festival and is the third festival in the Hebrew month of Tishrei. This holiday comes on the fifth day following Yom Kippur. This festival celebrates the forty years of exile the Jews had after their exodus from Israel.
Sukkot is also known by several names, Day of Booths, the Feast of Tabernacles or The Days of our Rejoicing.
The History Of Sukkot
The festival of Sukkot combines religious and agricultural elements beautifully. Sukkot is one of the three pilgrimage Jewish festivals. In the day of Sukkot, in ancient times the Jews came to Jerusalem to the Holy Temple to offer animal and grain sacrifices.
After their exodus from Egypt the Israelites lived in the desert in booths. This booth is known as sukka . The Jew people built sukka as a temporary dwelling place consisting wooden or cloth walls on at least three sides of its four sides with a roof above made of tree branches through which they could see the sky. Traditionally the roof was made of palm fronds.
The festival of Sukkot is also the Harvest Festival. It is celebrated in the autumn after summer harvest is complete and before the start of winter harvest. The farmers pray for rain for the ensuing year and thank God for the year s harvest.
The Time Of Sukkot
Sukkot is a 7-day festival occurring from 15th to the 21st of the month of Tishrei. According to the Gregorian calendar it falls usually in the middle of October. The first day of Sukkot is a holyday and no productive work is done and most businesses remain closed. The last day of Sukkot is also a gala celebration. The days in-between are like week days. From the eighth day a separate festival starts, which is called Shemini Atseret.
The Festival Customs Of Sukkot
The Jews build sukka according to the strict Jewish law. They build sukka under the open sky; it cannot be built under a roof or a tree. The sukka is decorated with lovely pictures, fruits and paper cut outs. The Jews build sukkas in their yards or balconies. According to Jewish custom it is obligatory to eat and sleep in the sukka during the seven day festival.
Four species of plants are used in ceremonial blessings. The lulav (palm frond), hadass (myrtle), aravah (willow branch) and etrog (citron) are the four species symbolizing different characteristics among men. It is mandatory for the men and boys over the age bar of mitzvah to wave lulav and etrog each day of Sukkot.
During the first six days of the festival, the followers make a complete circuit of the synagogue in a procession with the lulavs.
In the seventh day of Sukkot known as Hoshana Rabbah the worshippers make seven circuits around the sanctuary.
Sukkot is also the time for rebinding family ties, feasts and enjoyment.