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All about the Sukkot Tradition

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In today’s fast moving ever changing world, everyone seems to be going on at a mind boggling pace. One often wonders if in this turbulent scenario people would even remember to uphold their customs and traditions. And yet, there are sets of people who still celebrate their heritage and uphold their traditions. Jewish people are the ones who come to mind when we talk about festivities and a staunch adherence to one’s traditions, especially the Sukkot. The Sukkot holiday is a tribute by the Jews to the time their ancestors spent in the dessert after being freed from Egypt.

What is the Sukkot?

The Sukkot is a seven day holiday period where in the Jews eat in a Sukkah (a hut made of different materials like bamboo or other natural materials) to celebrate and remember the nomadic lifestyle led by their ancestors post their independence from Egypt. In Early days when there was a Temple in Jerusalem, a waving ceremony used to be performed in the temple on all seven days of the Sukkot and this tradition is upheld even now as a memorial to the temple, except on the Sabbath day.

The Waving Ceremony

The famous Four Species are held together in a particular fashion and waved in a special ceremony. This is a symbolic allusion of service to god by the Jews. The Four Species vary from 3 branches to one fruit and four branches in different Jewish sects. These four kinds of species represent the four different kinds of people that make up the society. Etrog, a citrus fruit is one of the four species that is waved in this custom. The fruit resembles a misshapen lemon and has a heavenly scent. It is said to represent the people who are good in deeds.

Etrog and Etrog Sets

The Etrog is a very rare fruit. In early days, Jews used to live in cities far from the fields and it was very difficult to obtain this elusive fruit. Whole towns used to share and purchase the fruit. It is however cultivated to cater to the Sukkot especially these days. To be used in the ritual, it shouldn’t have dark spots and the fruit must be the size of a hen’s egg. An Etrog without a pitam (Most of the citrus fruits have a style and stigma that fall off during growth called the pitam) is considered not valuable and cannot be used in the ritual. These days, however there are ways to preserve the pitam and hence most of the etrogs cultivated can be used for the Sukkot.

Etrog storage is tricky as if not handled properly; the pitam could fall off and render the etrog useless. Etrog Sets are available in the market these days and are a huge relief for those who practice the Sukkot tradition religiously.

Caring for your Etrog Set

The Etrog should be wrapped in a flax or foam and kept in a special box. It shouldn’t be refrigerated. Specially designed Etrog Sets are available to store the Etrog, Lulav and other species. These help in storing them without any damage so as to facilitate their usage during Sukkot.

Resource Box:

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