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Sukkot

Sukkot is the food festival observed by the Jews,which begins on the fifteenth day of the month of Tishrei the fifth day after Yom Kippur. The festival occurs during autumn and it lasts for seven days. The first day of the seven day holiday is observed with special prayer services and holiday meals and the final day is celebrated as the great Rosh Hashanah. The holiday commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert,living in temporary shelters. Sukkot is also the harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif,the Festival of Ingathering. These seven days are celebrated with the reading of the Torah every day and also by reading the Hallel.
The word Sukkot is the plural of the Hebrew word sukkah, meaning booth or hut. The significance of the holidays command to dwell in temporary shelters as their ancestors did during wilderness. So the Sukkahs are built with atleast three walls covered by such materials which will stand against the wind. The Sukkah should be of a minimum size suitable for the dwelling of a person. These Sukkahs are decorated with tree branches,corn stalks,bamboo reeds,sticks. Building and decorating the Sukkah is a fun to the kids and family. Inviting the spiritual guests known as "ushpizin",to be with them is a common practise. These ushpizin are the "Seven Shepherds of Israel",they are Abraham,Isaac,Jacob,Moses,Aaron,Joseph and David. According to tradition, each night a different one of the ushpizin enters the sukkah first and the other six follow. Some people say a special prayer welcoming them to the sukkah in the order in which they come. Each of the ushpizin has a unique lesson to teach that parallels the spiritual focus of the day on which they visit. The Chabad tradition states,another set of ushpizin come along with the others. There is a unique connection between the two ushpizin who are believed to visit each night. In recent times, some Jews add seven spiritual women, or ushpizot, to enter their sukkah. These are the biblical Sarah,Miriam,Deborah,Hannah,Huldah,Abigail and Esther. The custom of inviting guests to the sukkah extends to living guests as well. Many people invite family, friends, neighbours, or people who are alone to join them for a snack or a meal. Anyone, including non-Jews, is welcome inside a Sukkah.

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