Mauritius has always been hailed as a rainbow island. It is one of the rare places in the world where a variety of cultures and religions are gathered together under one roof, living harmoniously and peacefully – Mauritians have learnt to accept each other’s ethnic, religious and social differences.
All the different religions have their own distinct festivals which are celebrated throughout the year.
Chinese Spring Festival
Chinese New Year is based on calculations depending on lunar and solar calendars. Therefore, the date varies from year to year. Red is the symbolic colour of the festival; it represents happiness. Wax cake is commonly distributed on the occasion.
Divali is considered to be the festival of light by Hindus. It is said to be commemorating the victory of good over evil. People light out lamps all around their houses for this festival; Mauritians of many faiths delight in the decorations. The most popular tradition of the festival of Divali is the sharing of Indian sweets prepared at home.
Eid is a muslim festival, celebrated at the end of Ramadan, which is a month of fasting. After a month, as is determined by moon-sighting, the Muslims celebrate eid. In the morning, they have the special eid prayer, and then, visiting families, wearing new clothes, eating good food are the order of the day.
Marathis celebrate the birthday of the God, Ganesh on the 4th day of their lunar month in August/September. The celebrations are closed when they immerse their idols in seawater before sunset.
Holi is a hindu festival, where colours are celebrated. The people throw coloured water on each other, while expressing good wishes to all.
Grand Bassin, a lake found in the south of Mauritius, is highly revered as a place of pilgrimage, to which Mauritian Hindus walk to from their homes, carrying ‘Kanwar’ which are wooden structures which shelter the idols of their gods. They consider the water of Grand Bassin as holy and on the occasion, they collect the water. Rituals at Grand Bassin greatly resemble those done at Ganges, a river considered holy in India.
The National Day of Mauritius is celebrated on the 12th of March. The celebrations are done with great pomp and pride, as the police forces parade to the joy of Mauritians.
The Telegus celebrate their new year on Ougadi. It is a moment of joy for them, meeting family and friends and enjoying delicious foods.
Pere Laval pilgrimage
Jacques Desire Laval is considered to be a pious Saint to whose tomb people flock in pilgrimage on the 9th of September. He is believed to possess healing powers by adherents of the Christian faith and others.
A Tamil festival, Cavadee is celebrated to honour the God Muruga. They observe 10 days of fasting, to finally end it by performing pilgrimage. On the occasion, they carry ‘cavadees’, wooden structures representing their gods. The celebrations include piercing the body with fine needles; young and old indulge in this activity.