Due to Mauritius’ diverse mix of peoples and creeds, the annual calendar is packed with festivals and events celebrating all beliefs. Events in Mauritius are therefore exotic and varied, and no matter what time of the year you visit the chances are an event of some kind will be celebrated whilst you are there.
A predominantly Christian festival that is actually enjoyed by many faiths, Christmas celebrations include church services, present-giving and a large feast of food
Arrival of Indentured Labourers
Held on 2 November, this day marks the time when Indians began to be imported to Mauritius as labourers to replace slaves once the abolition took force in 1834.
Celebrated in October / November, Divali marks the victory of Rama over Ravana: of light (truth) over darkness (ignorance). It also commemorates Krishna’s destruction of the demon Narakasuram.
Celebrated by Hindus on of the fourth day of the lunar month in August / September, this festival commemorates the birth of the Hindu God Ganesh. Small replicas of the God, with its elephant head, are taken to the beaches or to riverbanks so they can be immersed before sunset.
Father Laval Day
Every 9th September, Mauritians of all faiths walk or drive to Sainte-Croix near Port Louis to visit the tomb of the Blessed Jacques Désiré Laval – the ‘Apostle of the Black People’. The celebration around Père Laval, who is believed to have healing powers, reminds us of the fervour of the Lourdes pilgrimage in France.
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
A festival that was adopted by the French in colonial times, this Catholic event is observed on 15 August. This day commemorates the death of Mary and the assumption of her body into heaven.
Signalling the end of Ramadan – the fasting period for people of Muslim faith – Eid-Ul-Fitr sees participants exchanging gifts, giving alms to the poor, and visiting their families and friends to wish them good fortune for the months ahead.
Celebrated on May 1st each year
This festival celebrates the New Year of the Telegu – an Indian ethnic group – and is characterised by the preparation of elaborate family meals, cultural shows and the distribution of prayers, cakes and sweets between relatives and friends.
Independence Day is celebrated with great national pride all the way across Mauritius.
In this festival, thousands of pilgrims, all dressed in white, walk long distances and converge on the sacred lake of Grand Bassin, carrying the ‘Kanwar’ – wooden arches covered with flowers and small mirrors. Maha Shivratree is celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva.
Holi Festival – (March)
This is an important time for joy and sharing in the Indian calendar. During this frenzied but always good-natured event, men, women and children throw coloured water and powder on each other while wishing one another good fortune.
Abolition of Slavery
This historical day is celebrated on 1 February in remembrance of the abolition of slavery in Mauritius by the British in 1835. Prior to this legislation, slaves were imported to the island from Africa and Madagascar during the French occupation.
Chinese Spring Festival
Chinese New Year Day is celebrated each year on a different date because of variations between the lunar and solar calendars. According to Chinese custom, no scissors or knives can be used on the day of the festival. Red – a traditional symbol of happiness – is the dominant colour, and food is offered to attendees to ensure abundance during the year.
Celebrated in honour of God Muruga, the son of Lord Shiva, Thaipoosum Cavadee is not only the most important festival in the Tamil calendar, but also the most spectacular. After ten days of fasting and prayers in January / February, devotees embark on a pilgrimage to local Kovils (Tamil temples). Throughout the procession, these devotees carry ‘cavadees’: carved, wooden structures decorated with leaves, flowers, fruits and photographs of saints.
Like everywhere else in the world, Mauritius loves to party to see in the new year in style. Mauritians have a two-day public holiday, on the 1st and 2nd January, to recover from New Year’s celebrations.