Holi in Mauritius
March 18 2019
March 18 2019
There’s no shortage of memorable and immersive experiences to be had in Mauritius. Apart from hours sunning themselves on sublime beaches, days spent in the tropical water and unforgettable moments shared with loved ones with luxury hotels as the background, travellers can immerse themselves in bustling local cities and markets, explore the interior of the island or familiarise themselves with local food, customs and cultures.
One of the best ways to experience the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic country of Mauritius is to embrace one of their magical festivals, which showcase the fantastic array of religions, cultures and ethnicities present in this memorable destination.
One of the most thrilling - and colourful festivals - to witness in Mauritius is definitely Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours (for good reason!). Here’s everything you need to know about celebrating Holi in Mauritius:
Holi is traditionally a spring festival
According to Hindu tradition, Holi in Mauritius is celebrated as a spring festival and in honour of the Hindu deity Lord Krishna. It is typically held toward the beginning of the year in February or March.
Held as an agricultural festival to mark the arrival of spring and its vibrant colours, it’s also a celebration of good over evil and an occasion for Hindus from around Mauritius, of all ages and walks of life, to come together and indulge in the festivities, which are enjoyed enthusiastically.
The origin of Holi is rooted in legend
As is often the case with Indian festivals, there are a number of legends associated with Holi. One of them centres on Lord Krishna when he was a child and poisoned by the demon Putana. The poison was said to make his skin turn blue, the colour of which remained even after the demon was killed. As he grew up, Krishna became more and more self-conscious about his skin colour, particularly when it came to women. He was taken with Radha who had fair skin, and so his mother encouraged him to smear colour on Radha’s face. Once this was done, they became a couple.
The celebrations last for two days
A week before Holi in Mauritius, you will be able to see markets and Puja shops (where one can purchase incense and other items related to Puja prayer rituals) decorated in all seven colours of the rainbow, creating excitement for the festival.
Holi in Mauritius lasts for two days. The festival kicks off with the lighting of a bonfire on the eve of Holi (the tradition is known as Holika Dahan). This is accompanied by the burning of small straw and bamboo effigies of Holika, which are set on top of the pyre, as well as dancing and the singing of folk songs. The bonfire is a significant symbol in this festival—it represents the death of Holika, who was burned to death after she tried to kill her nephew-it’s the celebration of the triumph of good over evil.
The next day, those that are taking part in the Holi festivities in Mauritius good-naturedly throw water and vividly-coloured powder (known as gulal) at each other in parks, streets and even on the beaches (old clothes are definitely recommended) while musicians play traditional songs accompanied by singers. Later in the day, people dance, sing spiritedly, share sweet treats (called gujiya which is a type of dumpling stuffed with nuts, fruits, coconut and a kind of cheese), visit family and even exchange gifts. It’s a wonderfully festive time and immensely fun to partake in.
Holi in Mauritius is practically celebrated by everyone, even those who do not practice the Hindu faith and it takes place when and wherever people are (although only dry colours are allowed to be used inside buildings or in doorways). The coloured powder used for Holi today is a type of commercial, brilliantly coloured powder, but traditionally, the colours were derived from plants and much paler.
It takes place in March this year
Holi in Mauritius will begin on Wednesday 20 March and end on Thursday 21 March 2019 but unlike many other festivals in Mauritius, it’s not a public holiday - businesses and shops will be open at normal times.
It’s by far one of the most exhilarating and enjoyable events in Mauritius and is worth witnessing for yourself. It’s highly recommended that you book your dream holiday in Mauritius to coincide with Holi; there’s no better way to discover the cultural diversity of Mauritius and the “Festival of Colours” than with the people of Mauritius in paradise.