Culture India - Mauritius

Culture

Mauritius is a multi-ethnic, multilingual and multicultural society. Co-existence among Mauritians of Indian, African, European and Chinese ancestry has led to a sharing of cultures and values, a collective participation in festivals and increased understanding between people of different backgrounds. These striking historical influences are visible in every aspect of Mauritian culture- attire, cuisine, language and literature, religion, festivals, art and music, sports amongst others. Mauritius is today a unique mosaic of ethnicity, language and culture. 

Hindu temples, Tamil Kovils, churches, mosques, Chinese pagodas and Buddhist temples co-exist in Mauritius exalting the universal message of peace and harmony. Mahashivratri, Thaipoosam Cavadee, Diwali, Ganesh Chathurti, Ugadi, Eid-Ul-Fitr, Christmas, Easter, Assumption and Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) are celebrated with equal fervor by people across religions. The steadfast religious spirit of Mauritians is reflected in the walk of the devotees clad in spotless white, carrying the ‘kanwar’ (wooden arches covered with flowers) to fetch the holy water from the lake of Ganga Talao during the Mahashivratri; or in the fire-walking and sword-climbing ceremonies during Cavadee; or in the prominent decorations in red, the symbol of happiness, all over the island, during the Chinese New Year. 

The lingua franca of Mauritius is Creole, a French-based language. It is called Kreol Morisyen in the local language. Almost all of its vocabulary stems from French, with smaller numbers of words borrowed from English and the many African and Asian languages that are spoken locally. Creole does not have a definite written form. Even though English is the official language of Government and education; and standard French is well appreciated, Mauritian Creole is most commonly used. Hindi, Bhojpuri, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Gujarati, Urdu, Mandarin, Hakka and Cantonese are also widely spoken.

The Creole language is the medium of the indigenous music and dance form of Mauritius- the Sega. The songs, in their traditional form, used to be intensely emotional and expressed the tribulations of subjugated and enslaved people. The root of Sega is African. The players wear colorful attire with floral motifs and dance to the rhythmic music without the feet ever leaving the ground. Several traditional musical instruments are also used. 

Mauritian cuisine is a unique blend of Occidental and Oriental styles. The Indian curries are used in perfect harmony with French gateaux and Creole rougailles. The local flavors include inter alia ‘gateau piment’ (meaning chilly cake-similar to Indian pakora), dholl poori (bread with lentil filling), poudine du pain (bread pudding), Bouillon Wantan (Chinese soup with pork). The local rum made from sugarcane is accepted internationally. 

The popular sports in Mauritius include horse-racing, rugby and football apart from the various water sports and adventure sports that are major tourist attractions. 

The local handicrafts are mainly based on the national symbol of Mauritius, the dodo, a flightless bird which was endemic to Mauritius and which became extinct in the 17th century.

 

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