Israel-India Postage Stamp, Nov 2012

Philatelists, Hinjews, and former IDF soldiers are celebrating as Israel and India release new joint postage stamps to commemorate twenty years of official diplomatic relations. The issue honors two festivals of lights: Diwali and Hannukah.

While unveiling the new stamp, India’s new envoy to Israel, Jaideep Sarkar, said, “both festivals celebrate the victory of good over evil.” The Indian stamp shows a row of traditional earthen lamps, called diyas, representing Diwali and the Israeli stamp features a hanukkiah with the word “Zion” inscribed inside a star. The menorah used was inspired by a wooden menorah from the Jeiwsh community of Mumbai (aka Bombay). The stamps were designed by Alka Sharma (of India)and Ronen Goldberg (of Israel).

Devali, or Diwali or Deepavali, is a a five day festival (Hanukkah is eight). It starts on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (Hanukkah starts on the 25th of Kislev) during Ashwin. Hindus celebrate it with families in their homes (similar to Hanukkah). Deepavali दीपावली means row of lamps (Hanukkah means where is the latka). DUring Deevali, Hindus light small lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. (During Hanukkah, some Jews lights oil lamps). Hindus use the lamps to welcome Lakshmi, a goddess. Some Jewish people offer gifts to chikdren and their own goddesses. Hindus exchanges candy sweets. Some Jews have candy chocolate gelt. On the last day of Devali, (Bhai Dooj)sisters invite their brothers to their homes. On the last day of Hanukkah, sister ask their brothers if enough candles are left for the last day.

To read a recent article on Israel India diplomacy in Foreign Policy magazine, click here, or an item in the Times of India on Hitler as a role model in Indian biz schools here, or the popularity of Moshe’s (Moshe Shek’s chain of Bistros in Mumbai) here

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  • It is really interesting to see the parallels drawn between these two religious practices. It is inspirational to hear that although there are many major religious differences between Hindus and Jews the two groups have found some common ground and can overlook these differences to work together. I only recently discovered bujew and hinjew slang terms to reference Indian Jews and Buddhist Jews. A few hundred years ago this seems like it would have been completely impossible but thanks to globalization we see such an interesting merging of cultures. Hopefully continued cultural understanding will lead to more peace in the region!

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