Mauritius is a mythical destination for its beaches, sea and sun. However, the island has a rich cultural, historical and natural heritage. Various activities will appeal to young and old, whether you are a couple, a family, a friend or a business trip.
One of the greatest assets of Mauritius is undoubtedly its people: its ethnic mix gives it a unique cultural identity. Following the various population movements of the last centuries, the island now consists of Indians, Chinese, Creoles and Franco-Mauritians. Reflecting this face with a thousand origins, Mauritius is full of cultural treasures. Throughout the year, Mauritians celebrate their religions, cultures and traditions. Religious or traditional festivals, dances or ancestral music, popular ceremonies very colourful … so many cultural events not to be missed under any pretext!
Mauritius obviously has the best cuisine between Beirut and Beijing. The island has taken advantage of kitchens as “tasty” as those of India, China and Europe, not to mention its creole component, of African descent. It is often spicy and tasty.
One of the known dishes is briani, a kind of rice mixed with chicken, vegetables and spices, cleverly concocted by Muslims, but closely followed by noodles (chow mein), vegetable and chicken meat, vindaye, dholl puri, rougaille, daube, halim and of course, the must-see curry called cari in Mauritius. Based on rice, although bread and pasta are much appreciated, meals are often accompanied by candied peppers, mazavarou (chili paste), chutneys or chatini. The amuse-bouche (gajacks) sold on each street corner are numerous: gateaux piments, samoussas, fried breads, chanapouris …
Like its mosaic population, Mauritius is traversed by sounds and rhythms from the Indies, China, Africa and Europe, but its sega remains the matrix song of this land swept by slavery and whipped by cyclones. The sega is of African inspiration and originally expresses the pain, but also, the sensuality of the Africans torn from their land. It is accompanied, at the base, by a cylindrical drum called ravane, the centrepiece of the séga, a kind of drum carved out of Chinese treasure wood. It is covered with a stretched goat skin, the maravane made up of sugar canes aligned, is rectangular in shape. It is a sort of box containing pebbles, metal balls or seeds. The musician stirs the instrument to the desired rhythm to accompany the singer and other instruments. Nowadays, the sega has incorporated guitar and other modern instruments. The hieratic figures of the séga are Ti Frere, Serge Lebrasse, Michel Legris, Cassiya and recently Sandra Mayotte, Alain Ramanisum, Linzy Bacbotte, Laura Beg, Caroline Jodun, Mary Jane Gaspard and Zulu.
SOME POPULAR FESTIVALS
The purpose of this article is to describe some celebrations in Mauritius and awaken the curiosity of the reader, offering to read an overview of some of the celebrations that take place in Mauritius. All the celebrations are not included, only the main ones, which are also little known to tourists.
Spring Festival – January 28
Each year the Chinese community of the island celebrates the arrival of spring or otherwise Chinese New Year, with a lot of pagoda offerings, parades, dance, decorations, fireworks, and of firecrackers, intended to make the demons flee.
Thaipoosam Cavadee – January 31
Festival of Tamil origin, Thaipoosam Cavadee marks the end of ten days of fasting by a very impressive purification rite. For several hours, the participants carried the Cavadee, a wooden ark covered with flowers and offerings, and pierced the body, face and tongue with a multitude of needles to which are suspended small objects or silts.
Maha Shivaratree – February 13
Maha Shivaratree, celebrated in honour of the god Shiva, is one of the most celebrated festivals of the Hindu community of the island. It lasts 4 days. During the great night, which follows a period of fasting and chastity, 500,000 faithful go to the sacred lake of Grand Bassin, dressed in white.
National Holiday – March 12
Every year the whole country celebrated the anniversary of independence, proclaimed on March 12, 1968. At noon, the ceremony of the flag raising to the sound of the Mauritian national anthem and in the afternoon, numerous cultural events, parades and commemorations take place all over the island
Holi, the festival of colours – End of Feb or early Mar.
Holi, great Hindu festival of the spring equinox, glorifies fertility and love. In the night that precedes it, bonfires are lit to symbolize the destruction of the demon Holika. On the day of the festival, the participants sprinkle each person crossing their path with water and coloured powder.
Eid-el-Fitr – June 16 (depending on the visibility of the moon)
Eid-el-Fitr celebrates the end of Ramadan. After 30 days of fasting, it is a day of rejoicing that is celebrated with prayers, gifts and a banquet of Briani, a Muslim dish imported from India, typical of Mauritius, the date varies according to the country and to the visibility of the moon.
Father Laval’s feast – Jacques Désiré Laval – September 09th
The so-called “Apostle of the Blacks” is celebrated by Mauritians of all origins who come to collect and invoke miracles on his tomb at St. Croix. Open-air masses are also organised. Missionary and physician, he federated freed slaves in the 19th century.
Divali – November 07
This feast, one of the most important on the island, represents for the Hindus the victory of Good over Evil. She celebrates the liberation of the Goddess Sita and the return of her husband Rama, the 7th avatar of Vishnu. On this occasion, the houses are decorated with a multitude of multi-coloured lights supposed to illuminate their way.