Diwali, pronounced Divali in Mauritian creole, is the hindu festival of lights celebrating the victory of light over darkness, or good over evil. According to hindu mythology, the lord Rama and his wife Sita were exiled from their kingdom for 14 years. While they were living in exile in the jungle, a demon named Ravana kidnapped Sita. Rama, along with the help of Hanuman and an army of monkeys, defeated the demon and rescued his wife. They returned to their kingdom on the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu month Kartika and on their way back, they were welcomed by rows of oil lamps that illuminated their way back home. This tradition continues today in places like India, Mauritius, and other places where the hindu diaspora has settled.
HOW DO MAURITIANS CELEBRATE DIWALI?
This year Diwali will be celebrated on Wednesday 11 November, which is also a public holiday in Mauritius. However, Diwali preparations start well before the day of the festival. Mauritians, mainly of hindu faith start by doing a thorough clean of their house. They then decorate their homes with strings of lights, similar to Christmas lights. They buy new clothes to wear for this special occasion and start preparing the traditional Diwali sweets.On the night of the festival, people light small oil lamps to welcome good fortune into their homes. Families pray together, at home or at the temple, to the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi. And of course, Diwali is never complete without sweets and fireworks. In my opinion, the best part of Diwali is the sharing of delicious homemade sweets with friends and neighbours, regardless of religion and participating in lighting firecrackers during the night.
HOW CAN TOURISTS PARTICIPATE IN THE DIWALI FESTIVITIES?
Diwali is a great opportunity to discover the richness and diversity of Mauritian culture, so while your hotel may have their own celebrations planned, here are four other things you can do on Diwali to take part in the Diwali celebrations in Mauritius: