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Multicultural Mauritius: the calendar of public holidays in 2018

By cecilia 07 Jun 2018

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"One people, one nation, all Mauritians". This is the motto of Multicultural Mauritius. One of the greatest treasures of this country is unquestionably its ethnic mix which gives it a unique cultural identity.

In this Multicultural Mauritius, since all cultures and religions live together, the government adapts the calendar each year in order to share equitably the 15 holidays. Here are the 2018 holidays dates and significations to keep in your agenda:

New Year Day

  • As in the rest of the world, Mauritius celebrates the first day of the Gregorian calendar. The fireworks illuminates the entire sky at night, with all families gathering on public beaches and camping during the party.

The 2nd of January

  • The feast of January 1 lasts for several days, so the second day of the year is counted as a holiday. Families usually share a beautiful day all together at the beach.

The 31rst of January: Thaipoosam Cavadee

  • Thaipoosam Cavadee is a festival of Tamil origin, celebrating the breaking of a 10 days fast. Pilgrims' bodies, faces and tongues are pierced by a multitude of needles to which small objects are suspended.
    The men wear the Cavadee: a kind of wooden structure symbolizing the sacred mountains, and drag a cart of offerings including salmon and a bowl of milk.

The 1st of February: Abolition of Slavery

  • On February 1st, the Creole community celebrates this feast commemorating the end of slavery in Mauritius in 1835.
    The festivities are organized in the historical site of Le Morne, which is classified as a world heritage of UNESCO and is considered as the symbol of the slaves’ fight for freedom.

The 13th of February: Maha Shivaratree

  • Maha Shivaratree is one main festivals in the Hindu community of Mauritius. It takes place at the sacred lake of Grand Bassin, destination of any devotee who begins the pilgrimage of Maha Shivaratree on the road to Bois Chéri.

The 16th of February: Chinese new year

  • It's the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. The general practice is that people try to get back on a new foot, after getting rid of the bad influences of the past year, accompanied by signs of auspicious. 2018 corresponds to the year of the Dog.

The 12th of March: Independence Day and Republic

  • The independence of Mauritius from the United Kingdom was declared on March 12, 1968, following the election of August 7, 1967. The country remained a member of The Commonwealth.
    So in 2018, Mauritius will celebrate its 50th anniversary of Independence.

The 18th of March: Ougadi

  • Mauritians of telegou religion celebrate Ougadi, the Hindu new year. It is an opportunity for them to launch messages of peace, fraternity and unity. Ougadi marks the beginning of a month of prayer.

The 1st of May: Labor Day

  • As in many countries, this day celebrates work, freedom of speech and the struggles of the working class and the unions for a 8 hours day of work. Its origin goes back to the year 1886, in the United States. In Mauritius, this holiday as been celebrated since May 1, 1950.

The 15th or 16th of June: Eid-Ul-Fitr

  • Eid-Ul-Fitr is the Muslim festival marking the breaking of the fast after the month of Ramadan.
    In most Mauritian families, preparations for the Eid-Ul-Fitr begin the day before, as soon as the visibility of the moon is officially proclaimed by the Jummah Mosque.

The 15th of August: Assomption

  • The Catholic community celebrates the Feast of the Virgin Mary every August 15. During this day, masses and parties are organized. Let's not forget the famous "gâteau marie" which is prepared at home or bought in bakeries.

The 14th of September: Ganesh Chaturthi

  • The Hindu Marathi Mauritians commemorate the birth of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god. Accompanied by songs and prayers, gigantic effigies of Ganesh are carried in procession and thrown into the sea, lakes or rivers.
    It symbolizes the return of Ganesh to the sky and the ocean.

The 2nd of November: Indertured

  • Also known as the festival of the arrival of the Indians, this holiday commemorates the arrival of workers from the Indian subcontinent, an immigration that deeply influenced the life and culture of Mauritius. The ceremony is organized at Aapravasi Ghat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The 7th of November: Diwali

  • Divali is also known as the "Festival of Lights". Hindu families decorate their homes with garlands of light and candles. They also prepare specialties of sweets and cakes, then go visit their loved ones, regardless of their religion.

The 25th of December: Christmas

  • All Mauritian families love Christmas Day even if it is originally a Christian holiday. Everyone participates, even if it is mostly Christians who go to the midnight mass. 

Illustration of Multicultural Mauritius with this film about the Spring Festival parade for the Chinese New Year.

Multicultural Mauritius: The Mahashivaratree Pilgrimage

Multicultural Mauritius

Maha Shiva Ratree literally means "Great Night of Shiva"

This Hindu religious festival is celebrated every year around February, during the moonless night of the "Phalunga" month of the Hindu lunar calendar. Devotees fast for several days and then walk to the sacred lake of Grand Bassin, located in the southwest of Mauritius. So for 4 days, the roads are filled with hundreds of thousands of devotees dressed in white, who carry on their shoulders a kawal or kawar, which is an arch built of bamboo and wood, decorated with beautiful flowers, colorful bells and images of Shiva. Once there, they pray to Shiva, offer fruits, flowers and milk, and pour water on Shiva Lingam (sacred stone). Then, the believers bring back sacred water, which they will use during their prayers for the Great Night of Shiva, in a temple not far from their house.

Maha Shivaratree in Mauritius
Multicultural Mauritius

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