Mauritius is a small island of 1.2million population but with different cultures, religions and festivals.
Due to diverse culture, a national calendar provides the various festivals and holiday which are celebrated during the year.
If you are visiting the country during one of the festivals you will always be warmly welcomed to join the celebrations and to learn about the local culture, belief and tradition.
Discover the Mauritian diverse cultures which are extremely fascinating as each culture has their own traditions, beliefs and festivals.
There are four main religions found in Mauritius:
List of fixed public holidays dates:
New Year – 1 and 2 January
Abolition of Slavery – 1 February
Labour Day - 1 May
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – 15 August
Christmas – 25 December
List of the National Holidays and Festivals celebrated in Mauritius:
Chinese Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) – (January – February) Chinese New Year – also known as Chinese Spring Festival is celebrated every January or February, normally on the second full moon after the winter solstice according to the lunisolar Chinese calendar. The main celebrations are centred around Chinatown in Port Louis, where the new year is ushered in with vibrant processions of lion and dragon dances, watched by families and visitors from across the island. Streets are festooned with red lanterns (red being a symbol of happiness) and the aromas of delicious Chinese street food waft through the air. Shops and houses are decorated with oriental ornaments and are thoroughly cleaned before the festival begins. In hope that the following year will be bountiful, abundant offerings of traditional foods like dumplings, seaweed and raw fish salad are proffered – though no knives are to be used on the day itself to prevent injuries and starting the year with bad luck, so most cooking gets done in advance. Traditional Chinese New Year “wax” cakes are also made in the lead up to the festival – a steamed, gelatinous concoction made with dried fruit and rice flour, otherwise known as sticky cake, or Nian Gao – and distributed among family and friends. Colourful firework displays and crackers fill the night sky and ward off evil spirits as the New Year rolls in.
Cavadee Festival – (end of January – February) This religious festival is celebrated mostly by Indians of Tamil origin and is one of the most impressive festivals in Mauritius. The devotees are after a period of fasting, and many have their cheeks, tongues and chests pierced with needles before going to the temple with their offerings on their backs. The devotees who are considered to be in a trance, walk bare feet to the temple, while carrying on their back the Cavadee (an arc of wood, metal or plastic) symbolizing the sacred mountains. The Cavadee is covered with flowers and with a pot of milk. The arc is laid down in the temple at the feet of the statue of a divinity. As part of the ceremony there is also a fire-walking and sword-climbing rituals which are quite spectacular.
Thaipoosam Cavadee – (Beginning of February)
This festival day is a symbolic one for all the Tamils of Mauritius. The kodi (flag wearing the drawings of the “vel”: the spear that killed Idumban, and a peacock or cock) is hoisted up at the entrance of the temple, thus indicating the beginning of the fasting (a fast that will last for ten days). During this sacred period, the faithful must purify his soul and heart, whilst dispelling hatred, passion, arrogance and envy. Abstinence and prayers should be the main rules of his life. All those who wish to participate in the Cavadee must be both physically and spiritually prepared for this magnificent yet trying festival. A bracelet is tied around their wrists as a sign of commitment and obedience. As such, in the days that will follow, the penitents go to pray the Divinity and sing religious hymns at the temple. Offerings such as coconuts, fruits, milk, and saffron water are laid down at His feet...
Maha Shivaratree – (February – March)
MahaShivaratree is celebrated in honour of Hindu God, Siva. Hindu devotees, clad in spotless white, carry the “kanwar” – wooden arches covered with flowers – on pilgrimage to Grand Bassin, to fetch holy water from the lake. The whole scene is reminiscent of the great rituals on the banks of the Holy Ganges in India. Translated as the ‘Great Night of Lord Shiva’, Maha Shivaratri is one of the most auspicious festivals in the Hindu calendar, celebrated with much intensity and devotion across the country.Shiva devotees make a pilgrimage to Grand Bassin, a deep crater lake and Shiva temple in the south west of the island, where they gather to worship, chant, meditate and make offerings of leaves from the sacred Bael (or Bilva) tree.
Holi Festival - (March)
The Holi festival is an Indian festival of fire and colours. The Hindu population in Mauritius celebrates the festival by splashing everyone who crosses their way with coloured water and powder, and with singing and dancing.
Mauritius National Day – (12th March ) To mark National Day, Mauritians will show their pride in their nation by displaying their colourful flag across the island. An official flag-raising ceremony takes place with military parades and live music.
Ganesh Chaturthi – (August – September)
Ganesh Chaturthi also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi is one of the important Hindu festivals celebrated throughout India with a great devotion. This day is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Lord Ganesh is the symbol of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on Shukla Chaturthi of the Hindu month of Bhadra (generally falls between August and September). This festival is celebrated by Hindus with a great enthusiasm. People bring idols of Lord Ganesh to their homes and do worship. The duration of this festival varies from 1 day to 11 days, depending on the place and tradition. On the last day of the festival the idols are taken out in a colorful and musical procession and immersed traditionally in water.
Father Laval Day (Jaques Désirée Laval) – (9th September)
The shrine of French Catholic priest and missionary Père Jacques-Désiré Laval is something of a Lourdes of the Indian Ocean, with many miracles attributed to pilgrimages here. The padre died in 1864 and was beatified in 1979 during a visit by Pope John Paul II. Père Laval is credited with converting 67,000 people to Christianity during his 23 years in Mauritius.
Eid-Ul-Fitr (Id-El-Fitr) Festival – (October-November) Eid-al-Fitr (Eid al-Fitr, Eid ul-Fitr, Id-Ul-Fitr, Eid) is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal. It marks the end of Ramadan, which is a month of fasting and prayer. Many Muslims attend communal prayers, listen to a khutba(sermon) and give zakat al-fitr (charity in the form of food) during Eid al-Fitr.
Divali (Diwali) Festival or Festivals of Light – (October – November)
The Divali is celebrated by the Hindus. It marks the victory of good Rama over evil Ravana in the epic Indian poem. During this night as from six o’clock all Hindus and many Mauritians decorate their homes with small oil lamps, candles, clay lamps or electric bulbs. Nowadays also a lot of houses are decorated with electrical lights chains and also some of the main streets are lighted with special light decorations. This is why this festival is also known as the festival of lights. Cakes are cooked and shared among families and neighbors on that day.
Mauritius has a big Christian community, mostly of Catholic faith. This is why Christian holidays and celebration like Easter and Christmas are celebrated in Mauritius with almost the same tradition as in Europe. You will find the traditional Easter chocolate eggs during Easter and Santa Claus and Christmas trees during Christmas.
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