Mauritius is the perfect example of a multicultural nation. The population is very diverse with Indian descendants (Tamils, Telegus, Marathis, Muslims), Creole (originated from Africa), Chinese and European origins. This peaceful harmony between the different cultures adds to the beauty of our paradise island. A visit to our paradise is an enriching and unique human experience.
Our mother tongue is “creole” which is a mixture of different languages namely French,English, Hindi and other languages.
As a result of this diversity of cultures and origins, there are many religious festivals which are celebrated in Mauritius. Our population has brought many customs and beliefs from our ancestral countries. In order to better understand and appreciate the beauty of the various religious festivals in Mauritius, you need to experience it. These festivals account partly for the uniqueness of our paradise island. The most popular religious festivals celebrated in Mauritius are included below:
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. Some devotees pierce certain parts of their body.
22 January 2023
Chinese Spring Festival is celebrated by the Chinese community whereby food is served among the family members. Chinese cakes, like the wax cake, are shared with family and friends. Firecrackers are set out so as to drive away evil spirits. It is also the occasion when the Chinese dancers perform Lion dances on the road.
18 February 2023
Maha Shivaratree is celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva. The pilgrims, dressed in white converge to the Sacred Lake of Grand Bassin (“Ganga Talao”), carrying their “Kawal” which are carved wood decorated with flowers and mirrors.
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. All Muslims celebrate this day with prayers at the mosques where food and cakes are shared. The Muslims also exchange gifts with their relatives and make donations to poor people on that occasion.
20 September 2023
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated either in August or September, depending on the Hindus’ Calendar, by the Hindus of Marathi faith as the birthday of Ganesh, the God of wisdom and remover of all obstacles. On the day of the festival, processions are held with devotees escorting statutes of Lord Ganesh and immersing them into the sea.
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.
12 November 2023
Divali, which is known as the festival of lights, is celebrated by the Hindus and it symbolises the victory of good over evil. Traditionally lamps made of clay are placed in front of every Hindu 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.
The Walk on Fire (“Thimidee” festival) 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 matt of burning coals followed by a mixture of milk and honey to refresh 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 religions are now participating in this celebration.