Mauritius has roughly 15 national days a year which are also called public holidays. The majority of the holidays are related to the many different religions and offers beautiful celebrations and interaction between the different religions of the island. Whether you are of faith or without faith the population in Mauritius are always excited for the public holidays and to take part in their fellow citizens’ culture and festivities. We have listed some of the most striking and remarkable festivals in Mauritius for you to explore should you be visiting Mauritius around these dates.
Divali - the festival of lights
This stunning festival takes place either in October or November, on a date set by the lunar calendar and originally celebrated amongst Hindus. The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil and the God Luxmi, who is the God of prosperity. Many Hindi households begin the day of Divali visiting the temples for a prayer and sacrifice of flowers and fruits. Divali is also the festival of generosity and sharing as most households prepares delicious and colourful sweets to share with friends, neighbours and family during the day. In the evening houses would be decorated with lamps and festive lights in order to welcome the Gods indoors, some households stick with original clay lamps which creates a cosy atmosphere while other households are using electrical lights, lightning up the whole house, which result in a beautiful scenery driving the street on the night of Divali.
The Chinese Spring Festival
The Chinese Spring Festival is celebrated originally by the Sino-Mauritians, also known as the Chinese community in Mauritius. The festival takes place at the first day of the lunar month, either at the end of January or in the beginning of February. The Chinese community will traditionally visit the Pagodas and spend the day reconnecting with family and origins over a nice family dinner consisting of fish and dumpling as these two dishes are known to bring prosperity. During the day Chinese cakes are also distributed to family and friends while China Town in Port Louis will be decorated in red colours, festive lamps and men in Lion outfits will be dancing the traditional Lion Dance known to bring good luck for the upcoming year.
The Cavadee Festival
A spectacular festival celebrated mainly by Hindus of Tamil origin. For the festival devotees will demonstrate their commitment to Lord Muruga by chants, devotional music and fire walks. The devotees have fasted for days up till the festival and you will see that many have pierced their whole bodies including tongues, cheeks, stomach and back with needles as a sacrifice to the God. The devotees are dressed in beautiful colourful clothes while carrying a Cavadee which is a wooden or metal arc decorated with leaves and flowers which the carry on their shoulders walking towards temples where they will do prayers and fire walks. While doing the fire walk the devotees are known to be in a form of a trance and do not feel any pain, however it is only the most devoted who can manage to do this ritual.
Maha Shivaratri Festival
Maha Shivaratri also known as the Great night of Shiva a festival celebrated in February or March each year originally by the Hindu community. It is a festival known for the huge celebration of Lord Shiva, the destroyer in the Hindu holy trinity. In Mauritius you will experience more than 400,000 pilgrims walking barefoot towards the Grand Bassin sacred lake where they will offer prayers at the big temple and do sacrifices to the Gods. The devotees have been fasting for a week up till the festival only eating vegetarian foods and fruits believing this will lend purity to their life and give them courage to make the long walk to Grand Bassin. However, the preparations start weeks earlier as devotees will start crafting colourful bamboo structures known as kanwars which they will carry on their way to Grand Bassin. It is common tradition for the devotees to chant devotional songs known as bhajans all the way to the sacred lake. As devotees are travelling by foot all over the island the return journey to their hometown may last up to one week. A very devotional festival not to miss.