Population and Religion

Population and Religion

At 31 December 1997, the population was estimated to be 1,120,530. It is divided into several ethnic groups, namely the Indo-Mauritians, creoles (that is persons having European, Madagascar and African origin) and Chinese Mauritians. Most of the festivities without fixed dates have been brought by the Indians but mostly by the tamilians. But there are also Chinese and Christian rites. The musical instruments that can be seen in Mauritius are the Ravane, a kind of big tambourine to give the rhythm for the tam-tam of the sega.

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FESTIVITIES

It is not surprising that Mauritians, whose origins are from 3 continents, have some festivities which reflect their diversity of their cultures.

MAHA SHIVATREE : Festival in the honor of Shiva, in February. Following a night without sleep, the hindu devotees dressed in white carry the ''kanvar'', arc of wood covered with flowers, in a procession towards Grand Bassin to get the holy water from the lake. The scene reminds of the big rituals celebrated on the banks of the Ganges river (Public holiday).

FESTIVAL OF 'BIENHEUREUX' JACQUES DÉSIRÉ LAVAL: Each year on the 9th September, mauritians of all ethnic groups proceed to the tomb of Father Laval in Sainte Croix, Port Louis. Jacques Désiré Laval was born in 1803 and came to Mauritius in 1841 and was beautified in Rome the 29th April 1979. Powers for miraculous healing are attributed to him. He was called the apostle of the blacks.

SPRING FESTIVAL: The Chinese new year is celebrated each year on a different date following the difference between the lunar calendar and the solar calendar (January February). This celebration is preceded by a major cleaning of the house. During that day, no scissors or knives are used. Red color, symbol of happiness will be dominating. Food is been exposed to guarantee its abundance all year round, and the traditional wax cakes are offered to the relatives and friends. Firecrackers are being lighted to make bad spirits run away. The presence of firecrackers that make a lot of noise make the wicked spirits frightened (Public holiday).

DIVALI: The most joyful and animated of all the Hindu festivals, Divali, celebrated in October or November, marks the victory of the god Rama over the Evil king Rawan and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The liberation of Laskmi, goddess of richness who was imprisoned bt a devil, as well as the return of Rama, the 7th reincarnation of Vishnu. Prayers are mainly for abundance (richness, good harvest, salary raise, success for exams). At the evening, all houses modest ones as well as the rich ones will shine with thousand of lights. It is characterized by the decoration of the houses with multitude of small lights and doors are kept open in order to allow the good fortune to get in (Public holiday).

HOLI: This Hindu festival has richness that equals the various legends the inspire it. It is mainly a festival that is about joy, during which men and women play with colored water and colored powder. It is time for celebrations and exchange of good wishes. It reminds of Holika who wanted to burn a prince who finally came out unhurt from the flames. Nowadays to punish Holika, her symbol is been burnt, but the part of the festival is to throw colored water (red, blue, green, violet) on faces or on the clothes.

CAVADEE: The Cavadee festival is celebrated in January/February. It is one of the most impressive tamil festival. The body pierced with needles, the tongue and the cheeks pierced by pins, the back with hooks often with citrons attached or tiny mugs of purification milk, the devotees in trance and in penitence, walk while carrying the Cavadee, an arc of wood, metal or plastic symbolizing the sacred mountains, covered with flowers with at the base at each end a pot of milk. The arc is laid down in the temple at the feet of the statue of a divinity. In spite of the long walk under the hot sun, the milk should not go bad. The Thaipoosam or Cavadee is a ceremony about the purification from evil. Its origin is from the south of India and is found very far in the history of Hinduism (Public Holiday).

GANESH CHATURTHI:This festival is celebrated on the 4th day of the lunar month of August/September by Hindus to mark the birth of the god Ganesa. (Public holiday)

EID-UL-FITR: : EId-Ul-Fitr is celebrated to mark the end of Ramadan - The fasting period for Muslims. Prayers are made at the mosque during the whole day (Public Holiday)

ALL SAINTS DAY AND CELEBRATIONS FOR THE DEADS: The day following the all saints day, the 2nd November, tribute is given to all the dead. Christian festival where people go to mass before going to leave flowers on the tombs. For the Mauritian, it is a proof that there is a certain form of life after dead.

TO GET MARRIED IN MAURITIUS

The ''Civil Status Act'' states that non residents may be celebrated the day following the publication of the banns. The future spouses must present a certificate issued by the Civil Status Office stating that they are not citizens of Mauritius and that they are not residents of Mauritius. This certificate must be obtained before by making a request to the ''Registrar of Civil Status'' 7th Floor, Emmanuel Anquetil Building, Port Louis, Tel : (230) 201-1727 Fax : (230) 211-2420. This document must be accompanied by the two passports (the first 3 pages are enough as well as any other document in case of divorce or widowhood). The request for a certificate for non resident must reach the Civil Status office at least 10 days before the scheduled date for the marriage.

The celebration will be performed in front of an officer of the Civil Status or at the hotel where the spouses are staying.

When two foreign Christians wish to celebrate their religious marriage in a church, the bishop of Port Louis can give them information about the procedures to be undergone. Anyway they must perform the required steps with the diocese of their residence.

BISHOP OF PORT LOUIS

Rue Monseigneur Gonin, Port Louis, and Tel: (230) 208-3068, Fax: (230) 208-6607

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