Diwali in Mauritius
October 18 2019
October 18 2019
Tourist attractions are considered visitor hotspots for a reason - they have an incredible allure and can range from beautiful vistas and stunning powder-white beaches to phenomenal historical monuments or sites. But one way to really experience a destination, and to get a deeper sense of it, is to partake in one of the cultural or religious celebrations.
Mauritius is famous for many reasons (you just have to look at a picture of it to know why), but it also has a huge array of festivals that are deeply rooted in the country’s various religions, cultures and even history.
If you are looking for an authentic and immersive experience that you will remember forever, then planning your trip over a festival in Mauritius that appeals to you is an excellent idea.
If you are looking for an experience nothing short of magical, then there’s one festival that might just be perfect; Diwali in Mauritius. This is what the Hindu “Festival of Lights” is all about:
This special festival lasts for five days
The name Diwali, or Deepavali, is a mix of two Sanskrit words, with Deepa meaning “light” and Awali meaning “row”, translating into the “Row of Light”. This festival has been celebrated since ancient times and it originally began as a harvest festival. During Diwali in Mauritius, the island, which you might think couldn’t be more sensational, truly becomes a wondrous and mesmerising place. Across the country for five days, gardens, houses, trees, hotels and buildings of all types are decorated with glittering fairy lights, candles and lamps and the night sky is illuminated with fireworks. This hugely special festival symbolises the victory of light over darkness (the fireworks are meant to ward off evil spirits) and the triumph of good over evil.
The festival is deeply rooted in legend
Hindu beliefs are often rooted in legend, and Diwali in Mauritius is no different. There are a number of myths connect to Diwali, but whichever you prefer, they all result in a celebration of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, purity and prosperity.
One of the most popular myths is that Lakshmi would accompany her husband Vishnu when he came to earth and would take a human form in the process. When Vishnu was reincarnated as Rama, the King of Ayodhya, Lakshmi took the form of Sita. Rama and Sita were forced from the palace and made to live in the jungle. During this time, it is said that a demon kidnapped Sita. Rama turned to Hanuman for help which resulted in the demon being killed and Sita being returned to Rama. When they returned to the kingdom, the streets were lined with oil lamps as a welcome. It is said that Lakshmi returns during Diwali and chooses a place to stay. The house she decides to bless is the one that she finds most pleasing and welcoming.
With this in mind, Mauritian Hindus do their utmost to make their houses as attractive as possible. Vigorous cleaning takes place before the festival and some go as far as to paint their houses and fix anything that might need fixing or upgrading. Buildings and gardens are decorated with lights, walkways are flanked by clay lamps (known as diyas used both to ward off evil spirits and welcome the goddess) and rangoli (stunning, vivid and oftentimes intricate patterns made with coloured rice flour) beautify floors, courtyards and doorsteps.
But it’s not just the houses that are kept clean; the week before Diwali, Hindus typically fast, ensuring that their bodies are clean and their souls are purified through meditation and prayer.
Each day of Diwali brings something new
Throughout Diwali in Mauritius, a number of different deities are joyfully celebrated and worshipped, with a focus on Lakshmi and Lord Ganesh, and on wealth, wisdom, luck and enlightenment. Each day, however, has its own set of customs, practices and festivities rooted in different legends and beliefs.
For example, on the first day of Diwali in Mauritius, devotees buy clothing, utensils and jewellery to symbolise (and manifest) abundance in their lives and their home. This day focuses on prosperity and wealth. The fifth day focuses on prayers and gifts for loved ones, where food and delicacies are shared (these specific sweets need to be created in a certain way and must be prepared before sunset, at which time prayers and offerings are made to Lakshmi) and the festival is completed with a fabulous fireworks display of fireworks.
The final day of the Diwali celebrations is considered a public holiday, and this year, it falls on the 27 October. According to the Hindu calendar, Diwali should fall on the night of the new moon in the month of Kartik (October or November).
This is a special celebration to witness in Mauritius so if you are looking for a sensational experience, then you should definitely book your trip to Mauritius this year over October.