Mauritius is a culturally rich heritage island marking unity in diversity. The number and diversity of public holidays and festivals indicate the rich heritage of the island’s people and its ethnic diversity. Mauritius has a number of public holidays to celebrate different religious festivals thus marking its ethnic diversity.
Hindus celebrate the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayak Chaturthi, as a day on which lord Ganesha, the younger son of Siva and Parvati was born. The birthday of lord Ganesha is celebrated on the fourth day of the lunar month of August/September. Lord Ganesha is symbolized as the god of wisdom and the god who removes all obstacles in the path of its followers and thus he is also called “Vignaharta”. The story behind the birth of the lord Ganesh is that Ganesh was created by goddess Parvati from dough which she used for her bath. The Goddess made a doll out of this dough and breathed life into this doll for security while she was bathing.
There are various Hindu festivals celebrated here but the main Maharashtrian celebration of the year is Ganesh Chaturthi. Mauritians of Marathi origin celebrate this festival with great pomp and glory in temples. Ganesh Chaturthi has been celebrated in Mauritius since 1896. The Bhiwajee family of the Cascades valley in Henrietta first started this festival and since then this tradition of Ganesh Puja is prevalent in Mauritius as one of the celebrated and marked festivals of the year. The popularity of the festival is such that it has gained the status of a public holiday in the island of Mauritius.
Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the public holidays in Mauritius. Hinduism being the dominant religion of the Mauritians with 52 percent of the population being followers, all the Hindus of the island country celebrate this festival with great fervor. All the devotees of Lord Ganesha perform pujas in the temples and celebrate the festival. People from different towns and villages join in the process of the immersion of lord Ganesha’s idol. They all gather along the beaches of the island country and take part in the immersion ceremony. The statue of lord Ganesha is also worshipped in many families and households and then immersed in the rivers and seas.