Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius
August 12 2019
August 12 2019
Mauritius is a fabulous destination for travellers of all types; no matter whether you enjoy soaking up the laid back island lifestyle, seeking out historical treasures, exploring the natural surrounds or making the most of adrenaline pumping activities, it’s sure to have something for you. This exotic destination is perfect for sun worshippers, romantic couples, families and adventurers.
What many don’t know is that over and above what you may see in glossy travel brochures and magazines, Mauritius boasts a truly fascinating cultural landscape, a rich, unique history and an array of religions. The plethora of festivals and celebrations held throughout the year in Mauritius showcases just how colourful and diverse a country it actually is.
One of the most incredible festivals to experience in Mauritius is Ganesh Chaturthi, which is also sometimes referred to as Vinayak Chaturthi. Interested to find out more about this Hindu festival? This is what you should know about Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius:
You may recognise the Hindu deity this festival is dedicated to
If you have ever seen images, temples or effigies of the Hindu deities, you will probably remember seeing Ganesh, the beloved and popular Hindu deity with the head of an elephant. Considered the “Lord of Beginnings” in the Hindu faith, Ganesh is the much-loved deity of wealth and wisdom.
As is the case with many of the Hindu gods, there are many legends associated with Ganesh. One of the most popular centres on a goddess, Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife and the doll she made out of dough in the shape of a boy. It is said that she then breathed life into this doll and named him Ganesh.
Parvati asked Ganesh to watch the door while she bathed, and when Lord Shiva visited, Ganesh would not allow him to enter. This led to a fight between the two males, during which Lord Shiva inflicted a fatal head wound on Ganesh. Parvati then pleaded with Shiva to bring Ganesh back to life. Shiva found a replacement for his head, that of an elephant (said to be the first creature facing north Shiva’s men found - according to the faith, north is the direction of wisdom). Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius is the celebration of Ganesh’s birthday, the youngest son of Shiva and Parvati.
The head of the elephant is symbolic of wisdom and knowledge and those who worship him believe that Ganesh will endow them with these qualities and help remove their obstacles in order for them to achieve their goals. His big ears are said to help him to listen better to the prayers of his devotees.
Images and effigies of Lord Ganesh hold incredible symbolism
The first thing you see when you look at a picture or effigy of Ganesh is his elephant head. But there are so many more symbols that you might initially miss. Ganesh has four hands. In one, he holds a lotus, this symbolises enlightenment. Another holds a hatched, to sever attachments. The next holds sweets, rewards for those who follow a righteous path and the fourth hand holds a pose of blessing, the Aashirwad Mudra.
The overall symbolism here is that a wise man lives on earth, but is not attached to the material world. There might also be a rat depicted. The rat represents our desires and greed and reminds us that we need to keep these in check.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a vibrant festival that’s celebrated throughout the island
Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius is a vibrant and colourful festival that has been observed in Mauritius since 1896 and is considered the most celebrated holiday of the year. During this celebration, processions of devotees dance and chant as they spiritedly weave their way through the streets of Mauritius towards the nearest sea or river. Brilliantly coloured statues of Lord Ganesh, made from clay, are then carried in the procession on small platforms to the sounds of drums, bells and cymbals. When the procession reaches the water, they immerse the clay effigies in it, where the statues slowly disintegrate. Some devotees choose to have their own private immersion ceremonies, but many take part in these fabulous and festive processions.
The reason the effigies are put into the water is because Lord Ganesh, as with the other deities, was assigned to one of the five elements of the universe. His element was water. These clay statues are meant to dissolve in the water, allowing Ganesh to return to his element until the next Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius.
Preparations for the festival take place days 10 before
Over a week before the actual festival of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius, devotees will bring home a clay effigy of the esteemed deity, where offerings will be made to it and it will be worshipped. Morning prayers (or Puja) are also part of the rituals and Ganesh is quite literally taken care of like a family member. 10 days later, the official festival will start, where it will be time for the vivid processions to the water to take place and where the clay figures will slowly disappear.
Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius will take place on 3 September 2019
The date of Ganesh Chaturthi in Mauritius changes from year to year, based on the Hindu calendar, but it normally takes place in August or September. If you would like to witness this magical festival this year, however, it would be a good idea to try and book a stay over 3 September 2019 when it will take place. The day itself is a public holiday, allowing everyone who wants to partake in the festivities the chance to do so. One thing is for sure, it makes for a wonderful opportunity to experience a different, and very important, side of Mauritius.