Mauritius – Culture and Traditions: Holi Festival

Holi Festival this year, is celebrated on Friday 18th March. It is observed on sundown on Thursday, March 17th ending at sundown on Friday, March 18th. Holi, a two-day festival, also known as the festival of colors, is by far the brightest event of the Indian festivities. In India it marks the arrival of spring and the end of winter.

This festival signifies the victory of good over evil and is a symbol of a good harvest and fertility.  In Mauritius, this celebration of colors, brotherhood, peace, and prosperity transcends all socio-economic and religious gaps as everyone gathers in the streets to participate. The Holi celebrations last two days and usually start with a bonfire on the eve, in the evening. The bonfire symbolizes the death of the evil Holika who burned to death and was reduced to ashes after she tried to kill her nephew who was a fervent devotee. People will sing and dance around the bonfire while throwing items such as wood, coconuts…. for worship in the fire. This is known as Holika Dahan.

On the next day, families, friends, neighbors will be playing with colors and water, smearing gulal (colored powders used in Indian rituals) on each other’s faces and soaking each other with waterjets known as pichkaris, made of local Mauritian bamboos. These vivid colors are made with natural ingredients that include neem, Kumkum, turmeric and flower extracts. Some people will go to parks or beaches, and while musicians playing traditional songs accompanied by singers will perform, the people will celebrate joyfully dancing, laughing, and chanting.

The feast will be followed by visits to family, exchange of gifts and sharing of sweets called gujiya (a type of dumpling stuffed with nuts), and other delicacies. Should you wish to join the ones celebrating on this colorful Holi festival, you will be most welcomed. However, we would not recommend that you wear your finest clothes!

Holi Festival: a day to forget the bad days of life and be merry. A day to put colors into your life!


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