Mauritius is not only beautiful, a great side trip if you’re heading to South Africa or Mozambique, but it’s an incredible melting-pot of cultures. Nearly every month, you’ll find interesting festivals you can explore, from Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist.
A number of Hindu Festivals such as Holi (the festival of colors), Diwali (the festival of lights), and Maha Shivratri (the festival of Lord Shiva) are celebrated alongside the Chinese New Year, Christmas, and Easter.
Just as the many other major Hindu festivals, the large Indian majority, (about 63 per cent) celebrate Holi with a lot of enthusiasm in the island of Mauritius. It is an official holiday in the country and therefore people get all the time to make merry and drench themselves in the spirit of Holi and of course, colour water.
Hindus, here duly perform the tradition of Holika Dahan or lighting of bonfire on the eve of Holi and celebrate the victory of good over evil. Next day people revel and play with colours and drench everybody with water jets called pichkaris. While in the evening they greet each other with tilak and exchange sweets. Holi is also marked as a Spring Festival when the nature wears its best clothes and fields and flowers are in full bloom.
Diwali is celebrated with great enthusiasm at Mauritius as this country have great Indian crowd. The Diwali celebrations at Mauritius is as good as in India. The festival of lights- Diwali is celebrated in October/November. Diwali marks the victory of Rama over Ravana and also commemorates Krishna’s destruction of the demon Narakasuran. Earthen oil lamps are placed in front of every home turning the island into a fairyland of flickering lights.
Besides celebrating the victory of good over evil and light over darkness, the little flickering lights also symbolize the beginning of summer. The main day of the festivities is seen as a particularly auspicious day for merchants to make up their accounts and balances for the previous year, to go unburdened into the next. After the morning prayers, Hindus share sweets prepared specially for the occasion with family members, neighbors and friends of any faith, in accordance with the multicultural spirit of Mauritius.
Maha Shivaratri preparations in Mauritius starts approximately one month before the Grand Night of Shiva. Shiva followers here fasts for some 30 days, or let’s say, as from the day that the construction of the “kanwars” started. Others start their observance for Lord Shiva some 10 days before the great night. While all these comprise a sacrifice, the main features of this festival constitute rigid fasting on the D-day for 24 hours, and staying awake for the whole night and meditating on Lord Shiva.