As Diwali is the Hindu festival of light and Chaharshanbe Suri is part of the Persian New Year, Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of light. The story of Hanukah began in the second century BCE and takes place in Jerusalem. At that time, the Hellenistic Empire from Greece and the Seleucid Empire from Syria were in power, destroying everything that belonged to the Jewish people, including the second temple. The first had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the second temple was reconstructed in its place. During this time of war and fighting, a Jewish army was formed to fight back against the King’s army. This army was known as the Maccabees who sought out to protect and reclaim all that belonged to the Jewish people. The leader of the Maccabees was known as Judah who took it upon himself to fight back against the forced assimilation.
At the time Antiochus was in power of the Seleucid Empire in 175 BCE and was tactless and unresponsive to religious opinions and views of the Jews. In 167 BCE all Jewish practices from sacrifice to human circumcision were prohibited and any family or persons caught with any type of religious scripture where made a public spectacle of. As an insult to the Jews, the King had idles of Zeus, the Greek god, erected and placed on the altars in the temple. In addition the king and his army slaughtered pigs and placed them around the temple.
This then provoked the Jews to form their own army in order to fight back and reclaim their right to live in Jerusalem, and be Jewish. Their army, the Maccabees, reclaimed the temple; however the Greeks had ransacked it of all its gold and treasured religious possessions including the ‘Ner Tamid’ which is translated to ‘Everlasting light’, it symbolizes the Jewish religion and Jewish faith. They are still found to this day in Synagogues around the world. The Jews searched the ransacked temple for more oil to relight the ‘Ner Tamid’ but only found enough for one day. The miracle of Hanukah is that the oil burned for eight days. That is how the tradition came about and why Jews to this day get together and celebrate the reclamation of the temple and the miracle of the oil.