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Local Festivals

Local Festivals

Experience the local festivities and traditions of Mauritius.

Activities & Experiences

The Chinese New Year is celebrated by the Chinese community in Mauritius and usually falls in January or February. Celebrations of the Chinese New Year include bursting fire crackers, which are believed to ward off evil spirits (if any). Many families get together to celebrate the Chinese New Year with plenty of delicious food and all the festivities are concluded with the Chinese Lion Dance. The colour code of the festival is red which symbolises happiness. The Chinese New Year is primarily celebrated in the China Town area of Port Louis.

Timing

January/February

This is one of the major festivals celebrated in Mauritius. Maha Shivaratri means Siva's Great Night and is celebrated by Mauritians of Hindu faith. The festival is celebrated during the new moon (lunar phase during which the stars are not visible in the night sky). This involves devotees heading to the Grand Bassin, which is considered a sacred lake. Devotees believe that the waters of the Grand Bassin come from the waters of the holy River Ganga in India. Devotees make food offerings and draw water from the lake, and dress in white as a symbol of sacrifice.

Timing

February/March

Even though it is not a public holiday in Mauritius, Easter is celebrated by thousands of families, and not only Catholics. In fact, many Mauritians observe fasting and abstinence for the 40 days prior to Easter. In general, as in many countries around the world, many ceremonies are held during Holy Week. Usually, people attend Easter Eve's mass on Saturday night as well. After the celebration, Easter is usually spent with multigenerational family get-together where the tradition remains unchanged: the sharing of chocolates.

Timing

March/April

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 and is a popular figure with Mauritians of all religions. Pilgrims come from as far afield as South Africa, Britain and France to commemorate the anniversary of his death on 9 September. Notice the coloured plaster effigy of the priest on top of the tomb – it's been rubbed smooth by miracle-seeking pilgrims.

Timing

September 9

Considered as a national celebration, Divali, the festival of lights, is one of the biggest Hindu festivals where they celebrate the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. An abundance of colourful garlands and small traditional clay lamps (Diyas) are lit. Some houses have fairy lights and an extravagant setup as well, making them seem quite magical.

Timing

October/November

The Cavadee festival is one of the most important festivals in Mauritius and is celebrated by Indians who came from Tamil Nadu. Considered one of the most elaborately celebrated festivals in Mauritius, some devotees get their cheeks, tongues and chests pierced with needles before going to the temple carrying their offerings tied to their backs. The devotees walk bare feet and carry the Cavadee (an arch made of wood, plastic or metal) on their backs, which represents the holy Cavdee Mountain. The Cavadee is adorned with flowers and is covered with a pot of milk. It also includes fire-walking and sword-climbing, which is a popular attraction of the festival.

Timing

January/February

The national day in Mauritius is celebrated on the 12th of March and commemorates the date the country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1968. The Republic of Mauritius was formed in 1992.

Timing

March 12

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated by the Hindu community in Mauritius. You would see devotees carrying small idols of Lord Ganesha to beaches or other riverbanks, especially before sunset. These idols are then immersed in water, a ritual also popularly known as Ganesh Visarjan.

Timing

August/September

Celebrate Eid-Ul-Fitr Festival with Mauritian Muslims. This celebration comes after the holy fasting month Ramadan ends. All Mauritian Muslims celebrate this special day with great gusto which includes praying, exchanging gifts with family, sharing food and sweet delights, charity donations and spending time with families, loved ones and friends.

Mauritians enjoy Christmas celebrations in a lively tropical summery atmosphere under a usually scorching sun, yet this does not stop Santa Claus from popping in with lots of presents for young and old. Whilst primarily a Christian celebration, Christmas is celebrated by almost everyone, with Christian and non-Christian alike getting together as families and exchanging gifts.

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