The paradise island of the Indian Ocean, also known as Mauritius, is home to a diversity of religions forming a multi-cultural society that makes a trip to the bountiful island a unique cultural experience. Despite the religiously diversity Mauritians are living in harmony with each other and acknowledge the celebration of religious holidays regarding of one’s religious orientation. In fact, many national holidays relate to religious events and people from differing religions in Mauritius will come together to participate in each other's celebrations. Just under half of the population, more precisely, 48.5% identify themselves as Hindu and nearly one-third of the country 26.3% identify as Roman Catholic while 17.3% identify as Muslim. Of the remaining population, 6.4% identify with some other branch of Christianity and 0.6% identify with Buddhism. As there is no official religion on the island, we have listed the 3 different religions in Mauritius and where to visit the best temples, mosques and churches!
Hinduism was brought to Mauritius during the time of the Indian immigration. Today, Hinduism is the most practised religion in Mauritius. Most Mauritians who practise Hinduism are a part of the Indian and Tamil communities in the country and locally known as the Hindu/Indo -Mauritians. Hindu and Tamil temples, artwork and statues can be seen throughout the country. However, one of the most appreciated temples is the Grand Bassin Temple, also known as the The Sacret Lake and Ganga Talao. Here you will find a beautiful Hindu temple amongst lush nature and mountains, a sacred place discovered by a local Hindu priest in 1897 that lived in a village named Triolet in the North of the Island. The rumours say that the priest had a dream showing him a sacred lake in Mauritius which should have been connected to the scared river Ganges in India. The priest searched for the sacred lake and eventually arrived at Grand Bassin where he recognized the lake from his dream. Soon pilgrims started walking to Grand Bassin from all over the island and Grand Bassin is today one of the most appreciated Hindu pilgrimage sites outside of India.
The most beautiful pilgrimage to Grand Bassin takes place in February or March every year where nearly a half million Hindus walks the streets barefoot from all over the island to visit the holy lake to honour the Great Night of Lord Shiva or the Maha Shivaratri. Grand Bassin is a holy place for Hindus which means that respecting the norms are important, therefore it is advised to always remove your shoes before entering a temple and dress modestly not showing knees and cleavage. You are most welcome to visit Grand Bassin at any time of the year as the sacred lake is open to visitors and pilgrims every day, you may bring bananas, coconuts and incense sticks if you wish to pay your respect to the Gods. There is no entrance fee but a donation is always warmly accepted and appreciated.
Christianity was first brought to Mauritius by Dutch explorers and afterwards revitalised by the French and English colonialists. During the slavery it was required for all incoming slaves from Africa to be baptised as Catholics, and so did Christianity create its roots in Mauritius. Although you can’t generalize, many Christian Catholics in Mauritius are today found within the ethnical category locally called the Franco-Mauritian, Sino-Mauritian and Creoles, often defined as descendants of European, African and Chinese roots from the colonial times. Catholic churches can be found throughout the island and one of the most visited churches in Mauritius is the stunning Notre Dame Auxiliatrice Chapel, a Roman Catholic Church in the heart of the northern fishing village Cap Malheureux. The church is widely known for its charming architecture and bright red roof standing in beautiful contrast to the azure blue ocean and sky in the picturesque background. Cap Malheureux means “Unfortunate or Unhappy Cape”, due to the numerous ships, which had wrecked there in the past. However, the church was founded in 1938 and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and draws both locals as well as tourists to join the mass on Sunday mornings. We advise again to wear appropriate clothes and avoid showing knees as well as cleavage in respect to the people and the surroundings.
Just like Hinduism, Islam also came to Mauritius with the Indian labourers that had been brought to toil in the sugar plantations following the abolishment of the Slavery System. The Indian Muslims came from the Northwest India and were all wealthy merchants’ experts in supply of textile products, rice and dholl. The vast majority of the Mauritian Muslim population practise the Sunni sect of Islam and since their arrival the Muslims have established various mosques to preserve their faiths. One of the most appreciated mosques is the Jummah Masjid Mosque in Port Louis. The Mosque was built in 1850 in Port Louis’ Royal Road and remains today one of the most densely Muslim populated area in Mauritius.