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The Kinara is the religious symbol of Kwanzaa, a primarily cultural holiday. Often referred to as an Imani Kinara (Imani is the spiritual and religious part of Kwanzaa), it is most easily compared to the Jewish menorah. Each night one candle is lit, symbolizing the Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa. The lighting honors are decided based on family preference. Some families choose to alternate, so that everyone may partake in the ceremony, while others defer to the eldest (or youngest, on occasion) present family member.

Thanks to the wonders of ASCII art, I can provide visuals to more accurately depict the process of lighting the Kinara. First, an explanation is in order:


            |B|
        |R| |B| |G|
    |R| |R| |B| |G| |G|
|R| |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| |R| \-/ |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| \-/     \-/ |G| |G|
|R| \-/             \-/ |G|
\-/                     \-/

This is the Kinara (it helps if you squint). The letters signify color, with R candles being Red, B being Black, and G being Green. These are the colors of the African flag, and are roughly equivalent to Christmas' Red and Green.

On the first night, the black candle is lit, symbolizing Unity.

            <^>
            |B|
        |R| |B| |G|
    |R| |R| |B| |G| |G|
|R| |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| |R| \-/ |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| \-/     \-/ |G| |G|
|R| \-/             \-/ |G|
\-/                     \-/

With the second night the first red candle is lit, symbolizing Self-Determination:

            <^>
            |B|
        |R| |B| |G|
<^> |R| |R| |B| |G| |G|
|R| |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| |R| \-/ |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| \-/     \-/ |G| |G|
|R| \-/             \-/ |G|
\-/                     \-/

The third principle, Collective Work and Responsibility, is represented by the rightmost green candle:

            <^>
            |B|
        |R| |B| |G|
<^> |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| <^>
|R| |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| |R| \-/ |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| \-/     \-/ |G| |G|
|R| \-/             \-/ |G|
\-/                     \-/

Fourth comes Collective Economy, continuing the alternating pattern:

            <^>
            |B|
    <^> |R| |B| |G|
<^> |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| <^>
|R| |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| |R| \-/ |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| \-/     \-/ |G| |G|
|R| \-/             \-/ |G|
\-/                     \-/

The fifth candle represents Purpose:

            <^>
            |B|
    <^> |R| |B| |G| <^>
<^> |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| <^>
|R| |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| |R| \-/ |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| \-/     \-/ |G| |G|
|R| \-/             \-/ |G|
\-/                     \-/

The sixth candle symbolizes Creativity (nothing like this ASCII art):

            <^>
        <^> |B|
    <^> |R| |B| |G| <^>
<^> |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| <^>
|R| |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| |R| \-/ |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| \-/     \-/ |G| |G|
|R| \-/             \-/ |G|
\-/                     \-/

Finally we arrive at the seventh principle: Faith.

            <^>
        <^> |B| <^>
    <^> |R| |B| |G| <^>
<^> |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| <^>
|R| |R| |R| |B| |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| |R| \-/ |G| |G| |G|
|R| |R| \-/     \-/ |G| |G|
|R| \-/             \-/ |G|
\-/                     \-/

At the end of the seventh night, the Kinara is dismantled until next year, with the candles being extinguished in reverse order.

Sources:
http://www.holidays.net/kwanzaa/lighting.htm
http://www.holidays.net/kwanzaa/kinara.htm
http://www.twilightbridge.com/hobbies/festivals/kwanzaa/kinara.htm


This writeup was created for The Ninjagirls Christmas Special quest.

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