Festivals of Mauritius
Mauritius is a country with plenty of religious and non religious festivals. Festivity is synonym to the Mauritian Culture. For the Mauritians, festivals are not merely the annual spectacles, but also are a living part of their rich cultural heritage. Festivals effectively bind together the Mauritian people of diverse cultural backgrounds and beliefs into one nation. Most Mauritian festivals are related to different Hindu deities and celebrated on days sanctified for them by religion and tradition.
Following is the list of some of the most significant festivals in Mauritius
The festival of Maha Shivaratri is among the most popular Hindu festivals in Mauritius. Shivratree is celebrated in the month of Phaguna (February— March) in honor of Shiva (one of the most worshiped Gods of the Hindu religion) celebrating the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. During this festival pilgrims prepare beautifully decorated ‘Kanwars’ which they carry during their pilgrimage to Grand Bassin also known as ‘Ganga Taloa’, a natural lake on the central plateau. During their journey to lake devotees chant Bhajans and Mantras of Lord Shiva during their pilgrimage.
Cavadee is one main festival of the island’s which is celebrated according to the Tamil calendar and occurs in the months of January and February. During festival of Cavadee devotees fast for ten whole days and gather together in temple to offer worship to Lord Muruga. Devotees prepare cavadee with sculptured wood and decorate it with green leaves, banana tree bark, V-shaped coconut shoots and flowers of all colors. The devotees carry the cavadees across their backs like a yoke. During this festival fire walking and sword climbing ceremonies are held and followers pierce their bodies with needles.
The festival of light, Diwali is with a lot of excitement all across Mauritius in the month of October or November every year. This festival is related with the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya, after his 14 years of expel and win over the demon Ravana. During diwali there is a tradition of lighting oil lamps that symbolize the victory of good over evil and freedom from spiritual darkness. There are several customs and traditions connected with Diwali, namely, burning of crackers, playing cards, lightning of lamps, wearing new clothes, distribution of sweets, exchange of gifts, etc.
Holi is the festival of colors celebrated mainly by Indians. Holi is a raucous two-day festival held in February or March. On the first day a bonfire is set in remembrance of the sacrifice by Holika who burnt herself in fire on this day. On the second day people enjoy themselves by playing with several colors and celebrate the whole day with lot of fun.
Father Laval Day
The Father Laval’s day is celebrated every September, when people pay tributes at the shrine of Father Laval, the French missionary who opposed slavery.
A major Islamic festival of Mauritius is the Id-ul-Fitr which is celebrated to mark the end of the austere fasting months of Ramadan. It is a major festival of the Muslims of Mauritius.
Chinese Spring Festivals
The Chinese New Year in Mauritius is celebrated by the Sino-Mauritian community. The festival involves cleaning out the home and the surrounding, as a symbol of inner purification and sharing of wax cakes amongst relatives and friends. It is the major festival of the Chinese which is celebrated in Port Louis China Town.
Mauritius has a big Christian community; mostly of Catholic faith therefore Easter and Christmas are celebrated on large scale in Mauritius. It celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th December every year. On Christmas Day, people get ready for the biggest feast. Relatives and friends visit and wish each other a ‘Merry Christmas’ and eat the ‘haute cuisine’ especially prepared for the occasion.