Purim 2015 in pictures: What is it and how is the Jewish festival celebrated?

Purim is known as the 'Jewish Mardis Gras'

Jewish people around the world celebrated the annual flamboyant festival of Purim over the past two days with fancy dress costumes and big parties.

What is Purim?

It is a festival to celebrate the salvation of Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day” around 2,500 years ago.

 

How is it celebrated?

The Book of Esther – which recounts the Purim story – is read the night before the celebrations begin after a day-long fast and also during the following morning. Noise, stomping, booing and hissing are encouraged by everyone whenever the name Haman is mentioned.

Parties are held with lots of dancing, singing, drinking and eating. Drinking at least one glass of wine is also expected as the drink is significant in the story of Esther.

Fancy dress costumes are donned by both children and adults and all those who can afford it are obliged to give money to charity.

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Young men celebrate and get drunk in Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv

When is it celebrated?

Purim is usually held over two days on the 14th and 15th days of Adar, the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar that usually falls in March.

Who is Esther?

Esther was chosen to be the wife and Queen of King Ahasuerus (believed to be Xerxes I) of Persia. When the King’s adviser, Haman, persuades him to kill all the Jews in the empire, Queen Esther’s cousin and adopted father, Mordecai, calls on her to use her influence to stop the planned massacre.

The tale is told in the Book of Esther, known as the Megillah, and ends with Haman’s hanging and the Jewish people being saved.

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