“Divali”, or “Deepavali” is an amalgamation of two Sanskrit words, meaning “Row of Light”. As apparent by the name, Divali is celebrated to symbolize the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil. Mauritius, where 63% of the population is Indian, out of which 80% follow Hinduism, this festival of light is celebrated in grandeur, transforming the island into a glittering fairyland at night.
An Indian festival in origin, Divali is celebrated in honour of Rama, the Prince of Ayodhya, returning home after his fourteen-year exile; the day also celebrated the victory of Rama over the devil king Ravana, as depicted in the epic “Ramayana”. However, the day is dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s consort, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, purity and light. Divali falls on the night of the New Moon in the month of Kartik i.e. October or November.
For the traveller who will be in Mauritius during this time period, an assault of cultural senses await. Considering the importance and beauty of Divali, all industries, including hospitality, in Mauritius come on board for the celebrations. Some hotels, such as InterContinental Mauritius Resort Balaclava Fort, a beach hotel in Mauritius, have special programs where tourists are taken to explore the area during festival time. Locals are busy fasting to purify the soul in the week preceding Divali, and cleaning their houses to welcome the goddess of light. The day of the festival is a carnival unto itself, with at least seven different types of sweets prepared in every household, which are then put into colourful boxes to be distributed among neighbours, friends, and family – with no discrimination on their beliefs. Divali is known to bring the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic population of the island together in creating a fairyland during the festival period.
While all these delicacies are tantalizing your taste buds, a visual spectral awaits as the night falls. Each and every house in the island lights an earthen oil lamp named “diya” outside their door, to repel darkness and invite light. This diyas glimmer with their flames dancing to the salted breeze from every house; multi-coloured lights illuminate trees, buildings, terraces, and houses as well, making it look as if the island is home to a thousand glimmering fireflies.
Catalina Forbes is a travel writer who bases her content on many thrilling escapades experienced across the world. Google+