Pesach or Passover is a religious festival celebrated by Jewish community to commemorate Israel's freedom from slavery under the Egyptians. The festival is being celebrated for seven days in Israel and for eight days by the Jewish Diasporas. This weeklong festival begins on 15th day of Nisan month in Jewish calendar. Passover is one of the three important Jewish festivals, the two other festivals being Sukkot and Shavu'ot. Passover festival is also widely known as "Feast of Unleavened Bread" because according to the book of Exodus, the Israelis hastily departed from the tyranny of Egyptian ruler Ramses II that they could not wait for bread to leaven it. So to observe the festive occasion, no leaven bread is eaten during the festival. Passover festival is generally preceded by Jewish families making grand preparations for the upcoming festival. Cleaning and preparing traditional food form major part of preparation for the Pesach festival. Children eagerly wait for Passover delicacies and sweets. The festival is celebrated with family get together and feasting on lip-smacking delicacies.
Meaning Of Pesach Or Passover
Passover is derived from the Hebrew word "Pesach, which means 'to pass over'. It was on this day that the Jews were freed from the dictatorship and enslavement of the ancient rulers of Egypt. Since the date falls in the month of either March or April, Passover also marks the beginning of the spring season. Hence, apart from the historical significance, the festival is important from agricultural point of view. Passover is one of the three religious festivals wherein the Jews make a historic pilgrimage to the temple of Jerusalem, the other two being Shavuot ("Pentecost") and Sukkot ("Tabernacles"). As explained in the book of Exodus, Moses and Hebrews were directed by God to sacrifice and consume roasted lamb as part of the Passover celebration. The blood was then spread on the doorposts and lintel as a sign of protection from the last plague - death of the first born son. The lamb so sacrificed became a substitute for the Lord's judgment to "pass over" them. Hence, Passover is regarded as "a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt".
However, the sacrifice has been replaced with roasted eggs and shankbone today. The season of the Nisan month do not start until the barley has ripened. According to Exodus, three different symbolic foods are eaten on Passover night, the lamb, matzah (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs ("maror" in Hebrew). The sacrifice to be made is a young lamb, as it depicts innocence. It is consumed after roasting it in fire. The matzah symbolizes the purity of the sacrifice as leaven is considered to be a symbol of sin. Finally, bitter herbs represent the suffering of the lamb so sacrificed.
The Seder meal is a ritual feast taken during Pesach fest and forms a very significant part of Pesach festival. The Seder meal is taken on first and second Pesach night. Family members and friends gather for festive supper meal to mark the beginning of the weeklong Pesach festival. Parents and elders narrate the story of exodus to children over the Sedar meal. They also read a book "Hagaddah" which means telling that covers songs, rituals, readings and the order of prayers for Pesach festival.
The Seder menu and plate contain many symbolic foods to relate to the Pesach festival. However, there are certain rules and customs followed for the preparation of the Seder meal. All forms of leaven bread are strictly avoided. During the festival, all forms of leaven bread or chametz are not allowed to eat. Jews feast on lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs during the weeklong Pesach festival. The feasting on the Seder meal symbolizes togetherness, celebration, joy and merriment.
The celebration is often marked with family get together, feasting on Seder meal and merriment. Jews families feast on many types of dishes over the family get together, rituals, gathering and meetings during the Pesach festival. The Passover festival is being celebrated by Jews with much fun-fare, religious fervor and gaiety.
Pesach or Passover festival holds a very special place in every Jew's heart as it denotes their freedom from oppression and slavery. Find out more about Pesach and its significance.