Mauritius is a blend of diverse cultures and religions which our immigrant population brought from their ancestral countries. Their festivities are celebrated in a spirit of peace and harmony throughout the year.
This festival is celebrated in January/February. Bodies are pierced with needles, tongues and cheeks with pins, devotees in a trance carry the ‘Cavadi’ on their shoulders as a penitence. The ‘Cavadi’ is a wooden arch, covered with flowers and with a pot of milk at each end.
The Festival of Lights is celebrated in a spirit of pure joy, in the month of October or November. Small clay lamps line the walls, balconies and yards. They are lit at sunset. Their golden light, which is believed to guide the Goddess of wealth and good fortune, can be seen everywhere. Divali represents the victory of truth (light) over ignorance (darkness). The Festival of Lights, Divali, is a celebration of joy, happiness and for many Mauritians, a time for sharing.
Every September 9, Mauritians of all faiths walk or drive towards the tomb of the Blessed Jacques Désiré Laval, the «Apostle of the Black People» at Ste-Croix, Port-Louis. The belief in Père Laval, to whom powers of healing are attributed, reminds us of the Lourdes Pilgrimage in France.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the 4th day of the lunar month of August/September by Hindus in honour of the birth of Ganesha, God of wisdom.
This Hindu festival is as colourful as the many legends from which it
originates. It is above all a festival of joy during which men and women throw coloured water and powder on each other and wish one another good luck.
The Id-El-Fitr festival signals the end of the Ramadan - the fasting
period for Muslim people. Prayers are said in mosques all day long.
Ougadi is the Telugu New Year and is usually celebrated in March.
The Chinese New Year is celebrated each year on a different date, owing
to the differences between the lunar and the solar calendars. Houses are thoroughly cleaned before the festival. No knife or scissors are used on the actual day of the festival. Red, a symbol of happiness is the main colour of the day. Food offerings are made to ensure that the following year will be plentiful and traditional ‘Wax’ cakes are distributed to parents and
friends.Firecrackers are set off to drive away the evil spirits.
Whether in your hotel or on the beach, the sega, a dance invented by mauritians of african origin, has become synonymous with «joie de vivre». The sega, its music and dance form, is specific to Mauritius. The sega, mainly based on African music originating with slaves, is nowadays played with modern instruments and features contemporary musical influences.
The rubbing of feet, the swaying of hips and Creole lyrics are part and parcel of the music. The slaves obviously began dancing the sega to forget their miserable existence. There are now several types of sega in Mauritius. Standard sega (where the instruments are the ravanne, the maravanne and the triangle) has its own disciples and devotees.
This «type of sega» had its own poet: Ti Frère, who died at the age of 92 and left us with a fantastic legacy.
«Ti Frère’s segas, said Mauritian writer Jean-Marie Leclézio, are never dull, he cannot be bothered producing holiday songs. They are tough and authentic, sensual and pagan. He knows how to tell us about Anita’s and Angeline’s love lives, and scoff at politicians who eat for the people’s sake».,
Young people and hotel entertainers now favour a more modern version of sega, which is no less attractive.