The Bene Israel community, hailing from the Maharashtra region, descended to Jerusalem on Monday evening from all over Israel celebrated the recognition of their 'Malida' ceremony as an official national holiday of the Hebrew Calendar, News 18 reported.
According to media reports, Cheli Tabibi Barakat, founder and director of the Hebrew Calendar Project, told the Indians gathered in Jerusalem that "it is a matter of pride that the Bene Israel community has preserved this tradition for 2000 years".
"All of us have a lot to learn about family and community values from your community given the way you have maintained and preserved your customs generation after generation," Barakat said.
"I express my appreciation to the new generation of Jews in Israel for their efforts in instituting this important day in the official calendar of Israel and for creating awareness about Malida in Israeli schools," India's Ambassador to Israel, Sanjeev Singla, told the community members during the celebrations.
The Bene Israel community has been performing the 'Malida' ceremony on most of their festive occasions, and especially on the Jewish festival of Tu B'Shvat, also called as the new year of the trees.
Tradition says that the community's forefathers arrived in India in 175 BCE (Before the Common Era), exactly on Tu B'Shvat. Their ship, sadly, is said to have sunk off the coast of India, but seven men and as many women were saved from the catastrophe.
After they were saved, Prophet Elijah is said to have appeared to them and promised that their offspring would once again settle in the Land of Israel, and until then they would be integrated into the Indian subcontinent. Since the incidence, the Jews along with Hindus are living peacefully together in India and established a great example of religious harmony.
In commemoration of the event, the Bene Israel community celebrates the 'Malida' ceremony on every Tu B'Shvat.