Much more than spectacular tropical beaches and endless sunshine, Mauritius offers myriad cultural experiences that give travellers insight into the island’s unique character. The ‘In The Know’ concept offered by our beach hotel in Mauritius illuminates aspects of Mauritian life through culinary programmes, market visits, historical excursions, religious festivals and other exciting activities that give a glimpse of authentic local culture.
The Maha Shivaratree festival– translated as the 'Great Night of Shiva’ – takes place at the end of February. Pilgrims clad in white make their way to Ganga Talao – Grand Bassin – a crater lake on the island’s central plateau. Devotees carry elaborately decorated bamboo ‘kanwar’ to the lake, and once there, head to a Shiva temple on the lake’s shore to mediate, pray, chant and make offerings of bael leaves.
This religious festival is celebrated by Indians of Tamil origin. Participants fast for 10 days for purification of body and mind, after which there is a procession of chariots bearing the deity Muruga. Many devotees have their cheeks, tongues and chests pierced with small spears. This festival includes a fire-walking ceremony – a sight not to be missed.
Divali is celebrated by all Indo-Mauritians, alongside a smaller proportion of people from other communities. It was originally an Indian festival celebrating the victory of Lord Rama over the devil, as depicted in the epic poem ‘Ramayana’. Many Mauritians celebrate this ‘festival of Light’ by decorating their homes with small oil lamps or electric bulbs. Another tradition on this day is sharing homemade cakes with neighbours and family.
Holi – the Festival of Colours – is an Indian festival that takes place in March. A celebration of spring, this day is characterised by brightly coloured powders – gulal – thrown around in a good-natured ‘colour fight’. In Mauritius, people of all faiths and backgrounds celebrate Holi, and anyone can take part.
Father Laval Day
September 9 is the birthday of Blessed Father Jacques Désiré Laval, and people of all communities walk to his shrine at Sainte Croix. Father Jacques Désiré Laval was a priest in the eighteenth century who became known as the protector of the impoverished, working with poor, uneducated former slaves and converting tens of thousands in his parish.
Chinese Spring Festivals
Chinese New Year's Day, or Spring Festival, is the most important festival for the Sino-Mauritian community. This festival is commemorated by cleaning the house, sharing traditional wax cakes with family and friends and setting off noisy firecrackers to ward off evil spirits. In Port Louis’s Chinatown, colourful dragon and lion dances are staged.
This Muslim festival is celebrated at the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. All Muslims celebrate this day at their local mosque with prayer, food and cakes. Food is also shared with neighbours, friends and the poor.
Mauritius has a large Christian community, mostly of Catholic faith. As such, most Christian celebrations, such as Easter and Christmas, are celebrated in the same way as in Europe. During Easter, you will find the traditional chocolate Easter eggs on sale everywhere. Christmas entails all the usual treats: Christmas trees, gifts and Santa Claus.