Mauritius is the perfect example of a multicultural nation. The heterogeneous population has diverse origins with 1.2 million having ancestors of Indian, African, Chinese and European origin. This peaceful harmony between the different cultures adds to the beauty of the paradise island. A visit to Mauritius is an enriching and unique human experience.
Our mother tongue “Creole”, a patois of French and Afro-Malagasy languages, is spoken by virtually all Mauritians and is the ‘ancestral language’ of 36 percent of the population. Still many are conversant in English, French, Hindi, Urdu, Mandarin (Chinese) and other heritage languages.
As a result of this diversity of cultures and origins, there are many religious festivals which are celebrated in Mauritius. Our ancestors have brought many customs and beliefs from their native country. In order to better understand and appreciate the beauty of the various religious festivals in Mauritius, one needs to experience it.
22 January 2023
Chinese Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year, is celebrated by the Sino-Mauritians (Chinese descents). A day where prayers are held in Pagodas (temples), traditional attires are adorned, firecrackers are set out so as to drive away evil spirits, Chinese cakes like the traditional wax cake are shared with family and friends. It is also the most awaited day to witness the Lion and Dragon dances by Chinese performers.
1 Feb 2023
Abolition of Slavery, beneath the beauty of the island, lies a deep rooted history of slavery, exploitation, indenture system, immigration and subjugation. The island bears testimony to the sacrifices made and hardships which the slaves endured. The Abolition of Slavery on 01 February 1835 had a huge impact on the society and brought over many changes. On that day, at Le Morne Brabant, which was a refuge for runaway slaves, commemoration ceremonies are centred around the Slave Route Monument.
4 February 2023
Thaipoosam Cavadee is celebrated in honour of Lord Muruga, the son of Lord Shiva, and is considered as the most important festival in the Tamil calendar. After ten days of fasting, the devotees go on a procession to local temples (“kovils”), carrying their cavadees which are carved, wooden structures decorated with leaves, flowers, fruits and miniatures of Lord Muruga.
18 February 2023
Maha Shivaratree, the “Great Night of Shiva”, is a Hindu celebration and the biggest pilgrimage on the island. Pilgrims irrespective of ethnicity though mostly Indo-Mauritians will travel mainly by foot to the Sacred Lake of Grand Bassin (Ganga Talao), while dressed in traditional white Indian attires and carrying their “Kawar” which are carved wood decorated with flowers and mirrors in order to pray to Lord Shiva.
8 March 2023
Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, is a Hindu festival which celebrates the victory of the good over the evil. It is usually a two day festival which starts by “Holika Dahan” (bonfire) in the evening and ends with the main festivities with the color play on the next day where everyone gathers on the street. There is singing and dancing to folklore music, and local traditional delicacies are shared.
12 March 2023
Independence And Republic Day commemorates two main events in the history of the island that both took place on March 12th; Independence from Britain in 1968 and becoming a Republic in 1992. Mauritians display their pride by putting flags on top of their houses and buildings across the island. An official flag raising ceremony takes place with official speeches, military parades and live music in the iconic Champ de Mars, in Port Louis.
22 March 2023
Ugadi, is celebrated as the New Year for the Indian ethnicities especially the “Telugus” and is regarded as the first day of the creation of the universe as per Indian scriptures. A day which starts with prayers, cooking traditional delicacies, making “rangolis” which are patterns made by coloured rice/flour on the floor, dressing in new attires and spending time with family and close ones.
9 April 2023
Easter is an important holiday for the Christians as they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Prayers and church services are held throughout the island. There is also the traditional egg decorating and egg hunt.
22 April 2023
Eid-Ul-Fitr is celebrated at the end of the holy month of fasting which is known as the Ramadan. The Ramadan is a period of around one month during which the Muslim fast during daytime. They celebrate this day by dressing up in traditional attires and the ladies adorn henna designs on their hands. Then the men attend prayers at the mosques where food and cakes are shared. There is also exchange of gifts with their relatives and charity is also done on that occasion.
Thimithi Festival, The Walk on Fire, is celebrated by the Tamil community. After 10 days of fasting and prayers, the devotees go on a procession to the temple where they walk on a mat of burning coals followed by a mixture of milk and honey to soothe their feet. This celebration is in honour of the Goddess Draupadi Ammen. The purpose of the majority of devotees is to fulfil their personal promises and to prove their faith to the Goddess. Due to its increasing popularity and faith in the Goddess, a number of Mauritians of non-Indian ethnicities also participate in this celebration.
9 September 2023
Père Laval Pilgrimage is the occasion during which Mauritians, irrespective of their religious faith, walk to Sainte Croix to pray at the tomb of Jacques Désiré Laval. He was considered as the “Apostle of the Black People” and is believed to have healing powers. This reminds us of the Lourdes pilgrimage in France. Also, Père Laval was the first individual to be beatified in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.
20 September 2023
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated by the Marathi faith as the birthday of Ganesh who is the God of Wisdom and Remover of all Obstacles. On the day of the festival, processions are held with devotees escorting statues of Lord Ganesh and immersing them into the sea.
29 September 2023
Mid- Autumn Festival also known as Moon festival is a harvest festival where the Sino-Mauritians bake mooncakes and make offerings to Chang’e, the Moon Goddess. It is a joyous celebration with family reunions, parades, mooncakes and lighting paper lanterns.
2 November 2023
Arrival of Indentured Labourers is a day where homage is paid to the immigrants and their descendants who contributed massively to the development of Mauritius after the abolition of slavery. The Aapravasi Ghat- UNESCO World Heritage Site at Trou Fanfaron, in Port-Louis was the immigration depot where the modern indentured labour diaspora emerged hence its historical value.
12 November 2023
Divali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by the Indo-Mauritians as a symbolism of the victory of good over evil. Traditionally lamps made of clay are placed in front of the house so as to welcome the Goddess Luxmi, to celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana and the destruction of the demon Narakasuran by Krishna. Traditional cakes like “gateau patate”, “barfi”, “idli ” and “laddoo” are prepared and shared.
November or Early December 2023
Kreol International Festival is dedicated to the celebration of the Creole Culture, the culture of Mauritius and all its communities. It is a week-long festival where local cuisine, regatta, poetry sessions, slam, concerts, art exhibitions, theatre plays and other cultural events are held.