Mauritius prides itself in being able to house a multicultural society, where people of different religions, languages and culture co-exist in a single community. The French are one of the primary contributors in this rich blend of culture, when they took control of the island in the 17th century, bringing with them their African and Asian slaves. The country changed hands when the British won over the French in the 18th century. The British ushered in a wave of indentured laborers from India, which was a British colony then. This influx of Indian laborers changed the island’s social structure. British Indians became so numerous that after a few decades, majority of the people in the island have Indian origin. The 19th and 20th century saw the arrival of another race – Chinese settlers.
This coming together of different people from different origins created a distinct Mauritian society. People in Mauritius nowadays have varied ancestries. There are Franco-Mauritians, those descended from the French settlers; Afro-Mauritians, the descendants of African slaves; Sino-Mauritians, the descendants of Chinese settlers; and by far the most numerous, comprising about 70% of the entire population, the Indo-Mauritians, descendants of British Indian laborers.
Mauritius is the same as the rest of the world, and New Year’s Eve is a big celebration here! Do not miss the fireworks on the beach, fired by all the hotels around the coasts of Mauritius.
DATE: 31ST DECEMBER – 1ST JANUARY
The most important date in the Chinese calendar. Port Louis is the centre if celebrations where you can expect lion and dragon dances and streets adorned with red lanterns.
DATE: 28TH JANUARY
The Abolition of Slavery act was finally implemented in Mauritius in February 1835. The vast majority of slaves left the plantations on which they had been forced to work, and many became fishermen or unskilled labourers with little or no support to help them transition into free citizens.
DATE: 1st February
This religious festival is celebrated mostly by Indians of Tamil origin and is quite a sight. The participants after a period of fasting, have their cheeks, tongues and chests pierced with needles before going to the temple with their offerings on their back. There is also a fire-walking ceremony that is performed by these Indo-Mauritians of southern origin, which is quite spectacular.
DATE: 9th February
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.
DATE: 24th February
Mauritius celebrates Independence Day Every year on the 12th March, Mauritians enjoy a public holiday to celebrate the anniversary of independence from Britain. In 2015, the country marks 47 years from the day independence was proclaimed in 1968.
DATE: 12th March
Celebrated by the tradition of Holika Dahan – lighting a bonfire on the eve of Holi to celebrate the vitory of good over evil. In the streets people play with colours and drench each other with pichkaris (water jets). At night, people greet each other with tilak and exchange sweets.
DATE: 13th March
Ugadi is the New Year’s Day for Deccan populations in southern India. If it is under this name that the inhabitants of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka designate this holiday.
DATE: 6th April
Eid el-Fitr or ‘Aïd al-Fitr is the Muslim holiday marking the breaking of the fast of the month of Ramadan. It is celebrated on the first day of the month of chawwal.
DATE: 5th June
Celebrated in honour of the elephant-headed god Ganesha, this Hindu festival involves worshipping with family and friends and placing clay manifestations of Ganesha in public temporary shrines. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated sometime in September, on the 4th day of the lunar month of the Hindu calendar. It marks the birthday of Ganesha, the God of wisdom and remover of all obstacles according to Hindu mythology
DATE: 26th August
In September, people of all faiths flock to the shrine of Father Jacques Désiré Laval, a 19th century French missionary, in Sainte Croix, Port Louis. One can almost catch a glimpse of Lourdes in the fervour of the crowd who attributes miraculous healing powers to this holy man.
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. To get here, take a bus signed ‘Cité La Cure’ or ‘Père Laval’ from the Immigration Sq bus station.
DATE: 9th September
Divali is the most jovial of all Hindu festivals. Celebrated in October/November it marks the victory of righteousness over evil in the Hindu mythology. Traditionally, clay oil lamps were placed in front of every home turning the island into a fairyland of flickering lights; these have now been replaced mostly by decorative electric lights.
DATE: 19th October
Commemoration of the Arrival of Indentured Labourers Day, celebrated in Mauritius every 2 November, remembers the arrival of indentured Indian labourers to the islands back in 1834.
DATE: 2nd November
Join us for a day in paradise – celebrating beautiful music, dance and people – on the picturesque beach of Île Aux Cerfs on 22 December 2018.
International live electronic sensation, GoldFish, will be headlining the event with their full live show, which they describe as “sex with saxophones”. The festival will also be supported by over 7 artists, including the Hot On Top DJs from South Africa and favorite local Mauritian DJs. BOOK NOW: https://rezobooking.com/ticket/h-o-t-day-out-ft-goldfish-live-22-dec-2018/
DATE: 22nd December
Christmas is a popular holiday season in Mauritius, where diverse cultures and religions have a long history and freedom of religion is protected by law. Each year, Christmas Day is celebrated with a public holiday on 25 December.
DATE: 25th December