“Since moving to Mauritius, my eyes have been opened to the rich cultural diversities of the island and its people. It has been a wonderful adventure learning about different celebrations and festivals celebrated on the island.
Below I will share some of the most fun and culturally rich festivals I have experienced in Mauritius. I am not guaranteeing you the same response for yourself. Nevertheless, I cannot recommend what I haven't seen or experienced."
With over half the population following the Indian religion of Hindu, the Holi festival of colour is largely celebrated. The date usually falls between February and March as it is celebrated in the Hindu month of Phalgun
It is also know as the festival of love and the festival of spring as it indicated the arrival of spring after winter and good luck for the spring harvest.
It is celebrated in small villages during the day to meet people, it is about fun and laughter, forgiveness and relationships.
In Mauritius to mark the festival bonfires are burnt on the eve and on the day powdered paint in lots of vibrant colours and poured on friends and family.
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CHINESE NEW YEAR
Although only 3% of the Mauritius population have a Chinese background, they have a big impact of the culture and many celebrate their festivals.
Chinese New Year for example is celebrated by all different people over the island. It marks the beginning of a new year on the Chinese calendar.
The island becomes decorated with classic red Chinese lanterns, dragons, fans and umbrellas.
In Port Lois there are big celebration for the new year as seen in the video. There are parade and displays with Chinese dragons and dancers, lots of Chinese food is eat and there are normally fireworks.
This is another widely celebrated Hindu festival in Mauritius. It is celebrated in the Hindu calendar month of Thai on the full moon, which is usually January/February. Celebrating the Lord Murugam a popular Hindu god. The celebration actually lasts 10 days!
For 10 days the Hindus pilgrimage, fast, offer prayers and do not indulge in pleasures, for example they only eat vegetarian food. They begin by cleansing in the river, followed by sacred piercings with needles in the tongue, cheek, arms, legs and back. Then they pilgrimage to their temple carrying wooden decorated sculpture called a Cavadee, this symbolised hope.
At the end there are big celebrations and parades around the villages and at Hindu temples. If you are out and about in the streets on this day be prepared for some interesting sights. I personally don't do well with needles so try to avoid these celebrations!
On the 15th day of the Kartika month on the Hindu calendar, Hindi celebrate Diwali. A celebration of the victory of light over darkness. This usually falls around October to January.
This if one of my favourite celebration in Mauritius. It lasts for 5 days and you can tell when it is being celebrated as Hindus all over the island decorate their houses with fairy light and light small candle inside their homes to symbolise light and good.
This festival falls between October and November which is perfect timing as many people seem to leave their lights up during the Christmas period too.
Friends and family make lots and lots of small Indian sweets called Mithai which are delivered to each other across the island as a greeting and celebration. I also know it's Diwali when friends come round bearing sweet gifts, this might also be why I like Diwali!
NEW YEARS EVE
This is a celebration I am very familiar with as it is very internationally celebrated the same way. It is celebrated on the 1st of January every year which is the first day of the new year in the modern day calendar.
In Mauritius people celebrate with friends and family by having a drink and eating together. Then setting off firework at 12:00AM on the 1st. This is usually followed by music and dancing.
The most amazing thing about celebrating this festival in Mauritus is watching the fireworks as everyone does them. One year we celebrated with friends on a catamaran and the view of each party setting of their own fireworks was phenomenal!
Ganesh Chaturthi is another Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesh, the god of wisdom and prosperity. It falls in the month of Bhadrapada on the Hindu calendar which is August - September.
It is a joyful celebration to show devotion which lasts 10 days and usually involves prayers, offerings of fruit and sweets to the Lord Ganesh and displays of devotion. By showing devotion it is believed you are free of sins and on the path to prosperity and wisdom.
In Mauritius I have watched a celebration held on the beach where everyone dressed in traditional clothes, they play drums, sing religious songs and dance. The ceremony closes by several men carrying a statue of the Lord Ganesh and playing it on the ocean floor several meters from the shore.
by guest writer Lovena Sukeea
Maha Shivatri is one of the most auspicious festivals celebrated in Mauritius. Maha Shivatri means 'Shiva's great night'.
Shivarati is celebrated on the day when Lord Shiva saved the world by drinking poison that emerged from the ocean during Samudra Manthan.
Before the festival begins devotees that are carrying the "kanwars" will be expected to fast for one month or more whereas, non-carrying devotees have only 10 days to fast. The requirement is to refrain from eating meat and consuming alcohol.
Six days before the event, some devotees will start their pilgrimage with their kanwars on their shoulders to proceed to the lake of Ganga Talao.
Once they reach Ganga Talao, they pray at the banks of the lake and collect the sacred water to bring back their homes. Which will be poured on the 'Shivalingam' (sacred stone representing the god Shiva) at the mandir on the "Great Night of Shiva', which is also known as the 'char pahar ki puja'.
Thereafter, four prayer session take place between sunset and sunrise.