SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) - Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman, a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther (Megillat Esther).
According to the Book of Esther, in the Hebrew Bible, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus (presumed to be Xerxes I of Persia), planned to kill all the Jews in the empire, but his plans were foiled by Mordecai and his adopted daughter Queen Esther. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing.
Purim is celebrated by giving mutual gifts of food and drink (mishloach manot), a celebratory meal (se'udat Purim), and public recitation of the Scroll of Esther (keriat ha-megillah), additions to the prayers and the grace after meals (al hannisim). Other customs include excessive drinking of wine and smoking, wearing of masks and costumes, and wild public celebration.
Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar (Adar II in leap years), the day following the victory of the Jews over their enemies. In cities that were protected by a surrounding wall at the time of Joshua, Purim is instead celebrated on the 15th of the month on what is known as Shushan Purim. Today, only Jerusalem celebrates Purim on the 15th and here is a picture gallery of how celebrations turn out to be.