The popular festivals in Mauritius are mainly characterised by their playful spirit. The cultural diversity of this country means that there are all kinds of festivities throughout the year in Mauritius.
In this country in the Southwest of the Indian Ocean, there are descendants of Indian, African, French, English and Chinese populations, among other nationalities. All this cultural amalgam gives the festivities in Mauritius a unique character.
Within this diversity of religious practices, the main ones are Hindus and Tamils. Secondly, there is Islam, which celebrates its rituals and festivities in the many mosques in the country. In addition to the Catholic population, there is also Buddhism, which is the fourth religion which groups Cantonese, Hakkas and foukiénois.
With all this in mind, we will see below which are the most famous popular festivals in Mauritius and what festivities and events we can find during our trip.
In addition to the celebration of New Year on the 1st and 2nd of January, one of the most spectacular popular festivals in Mauritius is the Cavadee, a festival of Hindu origin, during which pilgrims cross their chest, mouth, or back with huge hooks from which offerings hang.
At the same time, the celebration of the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival takes place. During this celebration, the Chinese community worships their ancestors while celebrating the arrival of the new year with great feasts, dances and much joy and colour.
Within the popular festivals in Mauritius corresponding to the Hindu population, February is the month for Orthodox Hindus. In February the Maha Shivaratree or "The Great Night of Shiva" is celebrated. On this occasion pilgrims, dressed in white, walk towards the Grand Bassin while they are hit on the shoulders with bamboo canes in a sign of sacrifice.
We continue with the Hindu population to celebrate another popular holiday in Mauritius which is directly related to religious beliefs. This time it is the Ougadi, or New Year's Celebration of those from the Deccan region in India.
On the other hand, throughout the country, on 12th March, Independence Day is celebrated. On 12th March 1968, the independence of Mauritius from British occupation was proclaimed.
Between April and May, depending on the year, since the date varies depending on the lunar calendar, the inhabitants of Mauritius who follow Islam celebrate Eid al-Fitr or the feast of the end of Ramadan.
On the other hand, the Chinese population celebrates the China Town Food and Cultural Festival from 13th to 14th May. And at the end of May, around the 21st, Chinese people also celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival to commemorate the life of Qu Yuan, the revered Chinese poet.
Another of the popular festivals in Mauritius which you can get to know if you visit the island in June is the Tropicadingue, a fun event which is celebrated on 3rd June. Also during this month, the island is filled with sporting events: tennis tournaments, kitesurfing, or marathons.
The month of July is famous for the Dodo Trail, a race which crosses the island from south to west and which brings together more participants every year. In August we continue with sporting events, as it hosts an international cycling event and a regatta on the 26th.
On 9th September, one of the most colourful popular festivals in Mauritius is celebrated: the Ganesh Chaturthi. The celebration of the birthday of Ganesha, Hindu goddess of wisdom.
On the same day, Catholics celebrate the birth of Father Jacques Laval. The faithful make pilgrimage to his sanctuary in Santa Cruz. Father Laval was an important protector of slaves throughout the 18th century.
In October Hindus celebrate Diwali or the Festival of Lights. The festival commemorates Lord Rama's victory over the devil. You will see homes decorated with oil lamps or small electric bulbs, creating an almost magical atmosphere.
In addition to the celebration of All Saints' Day by the Catholic population on 1st November, there is another holiday of Hindu origin in Mauritius, The Ganga Asnan. This holiday gathers the Hindu faithful once again in the sacred Ganga Talao lake to purify themselves in its waters.
In December one of the most Catholic popular festivals in Mauritius cannot be missed: Christmas. In addition to this festivity, there is also the Teemedee, a festival of Tamil origin where the faithful walk barefoot on burning coals.
And these are all the popular festivals in Mauritius, take good note of all of them.
Known as the Spring Festival, it is the most important event for the Chinese community, which receives the new year by paying homage and making offerings to the ancestors. The crowds are entertained with acrobatics and the colorful and cheerful dances of the dragon, the wolf or the lion. Large meals of pork, chicken or fish are prepared and the parents give their children coins wrapped in red paper, symbolizing good luck.
Hindu celebration commemorating the birthday of Ganesha, god of wisdom who has an elephant head. It usually lasts ten days and is celebrated in the streets and in houses, where statues of Ganesha are worshipped both day and night.
On October 12, 1968, after a referendum, Great Britain declared independence for Mauritius, with its first president being Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. The country became a republic within the Commonwealth in 1992. Mauritius has been a stable democracy with regular free elections ever since.
The most important festival of orthodox Hindus known as "The great night of Shiva", in which people dressed in white go to the sacred Lake Ganga Talao in Grand Bassin to collect water, which according to tradition is connected with the sacred River Ganges, and pour it over the Shiva Linga. They are beaten with a bamboo cane on their shoulders in sacrifice and offer coconuts, a religious symbol of the three eyes of the deity.
Ougadi is a religious celebration of the New Year by citizens of the Telugu Hindu ethnic group of the Decan Plateau, whose native language is Telugu, the third most spoken language in India. This celebration marks the creation of the universe. Unlike many religious celebrations, it is not celebrated in the streets, but rather it is quite traditional, with people having lunch or dinner with their relatives and friends with whom they exchange food and gifts and attend cultural events organized especially for the occasion. Special prayers are sent to Brahma, the creator of the universe and some hang mango leaves on their doors for the sons of Shiva.
The most spectacular festival that is celebrated in the country by the Tamil Hindus, which commemorates the liberation of Indumban, prisoner of the demon Marugan. Pilgrims prepare days before by fasting themselves to reach a state between life and death that brings them closer to the deity. Their relatives anoint them with oils and essences before they begin the pilgrimage to the temple carrying the cavadí, a bamboo cane in the form of an arch, from which two bowls of milk are hung, symbolizing the pilgrimage of Indumban, who carried two mountains on his back. attached to the ends of a cane. During the journey, the mouth, forehead, back, hips, and feet are hooked. Once there, the priests mark the pilgrims' foreheads with white paint as a symbol of the Trinity and they pour the two milk bowls on the statue of Marugan. After this ceremony, the pilgrims are purified with a bath in the river. The celebration ends with a sacred meal composed of seven types of curry, a symbol of the seven sister deities of Hindu mythology.