The main religious and cultural events

Seeking Lord Murugan’s blessings

It is in the middle of January that the descendants of the immigrants from South India accomplish the most spectacular acts of faith. During the ceremony of purification from evil, the believers carry the “cavadee” on their shoulders, a lavishly decorated wooden structure. The principal characteristics of this colourful festival are seen through scenes of religious fervour such as walking on fire or on swords, or even when believers pierce their bodies with needles on which are hanging objects like lemons.

Festival celebrating the abolition of slavery, or a return to the roots

Every year, on the 1st of February, the abolition of slavery in Mauritius is celebrated at the foot of Le Morne Mountain, considered as a refuge for escaped slaves and a site which has been classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This festival brings together concerts and shows which depict life at the time of slavery and escaped slaves, giving the population an opportunity to reflect on the life and the history of slaves and to honour them.

Driving away the demons and welcoming the New Year

In February, during the Chinese New Year festivals also known as the Spring Festival, many areas in the capital come to life: the dragon and the lion dance on the streets whilst very loud firecrackers explode in order to drive away the evil spirits. During that period, or in April during the China Town Food Festival, there are many activities waiting to be discovered: streets shows, traditional dances, martial arts demo, or sampling of Chinese dishes, especially in the heart of China Town.

Honouring Lord Shiva

Every year in March, thousands of pilgrims take part in a spectacular pilgrimage in honour of Lord Shiva during the Maha Shivaratree festival. A procession of devotees, carrying their « kaawar » made of bamboo sticks and decorated with multi-coloured paper, march in the direction of Grand Bassin, a lake considered sacred by the Hindus. Known as “Ganga Talao” by the Hindu population, this ancient volcanic crater which later became a lake, also shelters a giant statue of Shiva, which adds to the mysticism of the place.

Diwali, or the festival of Light

In October or November, the island is lit up on the occasion of Diwali, a festival considered by the Hindus as a victory of good over evil. This beautiful festival is characterised by the decoration of the houses with lights and traditional lamps, as well as the making and distribution of sweet delicacies, especially the famous and unique « gâteau patate».

The pilgrimage in honour of Father Laval

Jacques Désiré Laval, missionary and doctor from Normandy, arrived in Mauritius in 1864 and worked here until his death, healing the physical and spiritual wounds of the poorer sections of society. Considered as the Divine One by the Catholic Church, he is considered as “the Priest of the Blacks”, and on every 8th and 9th September, thousands of pilgrims gather around his grave in the town of Sainte Croix to pay tribute to him.