The main festivals and religious events celebrated in Mauritius are Cavadee, Chinese Spring Festival, Christmas, Divali, Easter, Eid-ul-Fitr, Ganesh Chathurti, Holi, MahaShivaratree, Père Laval Pilgrimage and Ugadi.
Cavadee is celebrated in January/February. Along with the fire-walking and sword-climbing ceremonies, Cavadee is among the most spectacular Tamil events. The body pierced with needles and the tongue and cheeks with skewers, the devotee, trance-like and in penance, walks in procession to the temple bearing the "Cavadee", a wooden arch covered with flowers with a pot of milk at each end of its base which he or she places before the deity. [Public Holiday]
Chinese Spring Festival
The Spring Festival, which is the Chinese New Year, is celebrated in January/February, depending on the adjustment of lunar days. Red, symbol of happiness, is the dominant colour. Food is piled up to ensure abundance during the year and the traditional wax cake is distributed to relatives and friends. Firecrackers are lit to ward off evil spirits. [Public Holiday]
Divali is the most jovial of all Hindu festivals. Celebrated in October/November it marks the victory of righteousness over evil in the Hindu mythology. Traditionally, clay oil lamps were placed in front of every home turning the island into a fairyland of flickering lights; these have now been replaced mostly by decorative electric lights. [Public Holiday]
Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated to mark the end of Ramadhan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. It is a day of thanksgiving and rejoicing for Muslims. Prayers are offered at mosques during the morning. [Public Holiday]
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated sometime in September, on the 4th day of the lunar month of the Hindu calendar. It marks the birthday of Ganesha, the God of wisdom and remover of all obstacles according to Hindu mythology. [Public Holiday]
Holi is the festival of colours. It celebrates the beginning of spring and people of the Hindu faith enjoy themselves by squirting coloured water and powder on one another. It is a time for rejoicing and exchanging greetings.
MahaShivaratree is celebrated in honour of Hindu God, Siva (February). Hindu devotees, clad in spotless white, carry the "kanwar" - wooden arches covered with flowers – on pilgrimage to Grand Bassin, to fetch holy water from the lake. The whole scene is reminiscent of the great rituals on the banks of the Holy Ganges in India. [Public Holiday]
Père Laval Pilgrimage
In September, people of all faiths flock to the shrine of Father Jacques Désiré Laval, a 19th century French missionary, in Sainte Croix, Port Louis. One can almost catch a glimpse of Lourdes in the fervour of the crowd who attributes miraculous healing powers to this holy man.
Ugadi is the Telegu New Year. It is usually celebrated in March. [Public Holiday]