Mauritius: Easter Monday Picnic, Mauritian Style

This Easter Monday, there’s some excitement in the air and it’s hard to contain the children’s restlessness. The reason why is our traditional outing of the year: a family picnic to celebrate Easter. This outing is part of the island’s traditions and generally delights both young and old. Easter has been an occasion for all Christians to attend the Paschal Triduum, culminating in the beautiful Easter Sunday mass. Traditionally, the whole family would then gather around the well-awaited Easter meal “pou kas karem” (break the fast). Indeed, it is common for many Mauritians to avoid alcohol and meat during the Christian Lent.

A vehicle that accommodates all members of the extended family is rented for the occasion. It is decided to leave early to arrive well before lunchtime at one of the island’s beaches to spend the day there. Everyone boards bringing their own belongings! The kids won’t forget their beach accessories, while the elders won’t leave without their beach chairs and hats, essential items for a great day out. It goes without saying that a variety of delicious foods are brought along: biryani or fried rice, potato gratin, “gajacks” (appetizers) of all kinds, cakes and sweets, and, of course, everything to quench everyone’s thirst during this fabulous day at leisure.

The vehicle normally starts a bit late because gathering the whole family members is not an easy task. It’s a challenge to hear each other over the noise as the youngsters at the back of the vehicle have already started singing accompanied by djembes, guitars, ravannes, and other musical instruments! The journey to the beach is filled with joyful noise between the elders’ jokes, singing songs together, and even dancing to the Mauritian sega music. The poor driver struggles to stay focused on the road.

Upon arrival, the first task is to find the perfect spot while disembarking remains a challenge as both young and old have only one thing on their minds: rushing for a big dive into the lagoon. Everyone struggles to wait while everything is finally set up. It’s very important to find a shaded area so to avoid spending the day in the blazing sun. Once settled, the young tribe immediately disappears at the call of the welcoming turquoise sea. As for the elders, it’s undoubtedly already time for a drink, and one can hear an old uncle chanting, “There’s no specific time for those who dare!”

The day passes by cheerfully, and everyone enjoys the pleasures of these warm family moments. Between sea baths, soccer games, shared meals, good humor, and bursts of laughter, the end of these festivities approaches as the sun sets. One last swim, one last drink, awakening an elder sleeping soundly under a tree, and it’s about time for everyone to pack up and start the journey back home as the vehicle arrives. In this joyful commotion, it’s not uncommon to have lost sight of a small child who, taking advantage of the adults’ inattention, has sneaked away to cool down by the water’s edge. Flashes of panic, shouts, calls, and the little rascal is found and promptly urged to board the vehicle.

Even if the atmosphere on the way back is no less festive, one can still feel a tangible melancholy in the air at the thought of getting back to school or to the office on the next day. Sadly, it looks like one will have to wait a long time for the next picnic…


Mauritius – Memories of the past: Our grandmothers’ pickles
Tribute to a great Mauritian poet: Salam to Dev Virahsawmy