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Temples In Mauritius - A Guide To Temples And Festivals Of The Island

The premiere holiday destination and the popular honeymoon location, Mauritius attracts thousands of tourists every year with its spellbinding locales and picture-perfect beauty. However, not many people know that Mauritius also holds some magnificent temples hidden between the sandy shores and majestic lanscapes. There has been a rapid influx of Indians on the enchanting island since 1835, leading to Hindu community gaining traction. The community stands united and celebrates all the festivals and customs with great enthusiasm. With almost 50% population being Hindu, there is bound to be some opulent temples on this island paradise. 6 most sacred Hindu temples in Mauritius are:

1. Maheswarnath Shiv Mandir

Maheswarnath Mandir, Temples in Mauritius
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The temple of Maheswarnath (The Great Lord) is the first and most revered Hindu temple in Mauritius with a legacy more than 130 years old. Established by Pandit Shri Sajeebunlall Ramsoondur of Bihar in 1888, this temple was built on the site of a defunct sugar factory in the village of Triolet and was devoted to the worship of Lord Shiva  - the Hindu god of destruction of evil. The priests and images of the deities were sourced from India, and Pandit Ramsoondur led a 'Shobha Yatra' from Port Louis to Triolet to commemorate this momentous occasion.

Built in the Bengal style of temple architecture, the grand edifice is a variation of the Pancha-Ratna or a five-flowered temple built on a platform. The outer wall is painted in a pure and pristine white colour with colourful images of deities and floral patterns adorning its innards. The main temple houses the sacred Shivalinga along with idols of Shiva's wife Goddess Parvati, his children Ganesha and Kartikeya and the gatekeeper - Nandi.  Another avatar of Lord Shiva - Lord Bhairava also resides in this complex. Apart from the main temple, there are temples in the complex devoted to Goddess Laxmi, Lord Nataraja, Lakshmi-Narayana, Lord Hanuman, Lord Jagannath, Goddess Kali, Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Durga.

In the centre of the temple complex resides a smaller temple housing the smaller lingam from Kashi (Varanasi, India) brought by Pandit Ramsoondur and is thus referred to as the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

Location: Shivala Road, Triolet, Mauritius.
Timings: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

2. Ganga Talao

Mauritius Temples, Ganga Talao
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Considered by many as the most sacred pilgrimage site for Hindus on the island, Ganga Talao is a crater lake nestled in the secluded mountains in the Savanne district of Mauritius. At more than 1800 feet above sea level, the lake is as much of a visual delight as a spiritual stronghold.

In 1897, Pandit Shri Jhummon Giri Gossagne Napal, a priest of Bois Pignolet together with Pandit Shri Mohanparsad, a priest of Goodland's saw in a dream the water of the lake of Grand Bassin originating from the Jahnvi, thus forming a part of the Ganga. The news of this dream spread like fire amongst the Hindu community and the following year saw Pandit Giri Gossagne and Pandit Sajibon along with nine other devotees trekking from Triolet to Grand Bassin to collect the holy water of the lake and offer it to Lord Shiva on the grand occasion of Maha Shivratri. The lake's stature as a religious site grew manifold following this trek and comparisons began to be drawn between the lake and the holy river Ganges back in India, thus lending it its name.

Since then, it has become an annual ritual for the Hindus to make a pilgrimage to the Ganga Talao during Maha Shivratri in February and March on foot while carrying Kanwars. A towering 33-metre tall statue of Lord Shiva carrying his trident has been erected near the lake making it the tallest statue in all of Mauritius.

Location: Grand Bassin, District Savanne, Mauritius
Timings: Visit before the evening

3. Sagar Shiv Mandir

Sagar Shiv Mandir, Temples in Mauritius
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Sagar Shiv Mandir is a recently constructed magnificent temple in Mauritius on the island of Goyave de Chine. Built by the Ghunowa family in 2007, this magnificent temple is a peaceful and scenic spot for offering prayers to the Almighty. Dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva, it is surrounded by the water of the Indian Ocean making it one of the most picturesque places of worship. If visiting Mauritius, drop by this temple for some moments of peace and oneness with God.

Location: Goyave de Chine, Poste de Flacq, Mauritius
Timings: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM

4. Shri Prasanna Venkateswara Temple

Mauritius Temples, Prasanna Venkateswara
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One of Mauritius' rare hidden gems, this stunning temple paying tribute to Lord Venkateswara (A form of Lord Vishnu) can be found in the village of La Laura-Malenga. Located at the foot of Pieter Both Peak, the temple's idols are embellished with gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and other precious jewels. The idols are crafted to perfection by skilled artisans belonging to South India. Visit this sacred temple in Mauritius to witness authentic South Indian religious rituals and practices.

Location:  La Laura-Malenga, Mauritius
Timings: 7:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM

5. Pandurang Kshetra Mandir

Pandurang Kshetra Mandir, temples in Mauritius
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Built-in 1902 by the indentured Indian labourers from Maharashtra, this Mauritius temple is built for the worship of Lord Ganesha - The Hindu elephant god of knowledge and wisdom. Maintained by the Marathi community of Mauritius, this small temple in the village of Cascavelle is instantly recognisable owing to the three domes atop its roof. Built with Indian temple designing traditions in mind, the temple is unique in its utilisation of carved volcanic rock sourced from the vicinity for its construction.

Location: Cascavelle, Mauritius
Timings: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM

6. Sri Siva Subramanya Temple (Mountain Temple)

Mauritius Temples, Siva Subramanya Temple
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If you visit Mauritius during January and February, you can find the South Indian community of Mauritius celebrating the Thaipoosam Cavadee Festival. One of the major centres of this festival is the Sri Siva Subramanya Temple on the flanks of the Corps de Garde Mountain. Devotees climb hundreds of steps to reach this immaculate temple on the mountains devoted to the worship of Lord Murugan (the Hindu god of war). The entire temple is an excellent example of ancient Indian Dravidian art and is a significant pilgrimage site for Hindus.

Location: Corps de Garde mountains, Moka Range
Timings: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Vibrant History of Temples in Mauritius

The year is 1835. Slavery is finally abolished on the islands of Mauritius under the rule of the British. However, European trade still requires a steady supply of sugarcane, tobacco, cotton and other essential cash crops for sustenance. With no one left to work on the crops, the British load ships full of Indian labourers at the ports of Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) and bring them to the Aapravasi Ghat in Mauritius to work on the plantations. Within four years, more than 25,000 indentured Indian labourers were working on the island, and more were on their way to escape the severe famines and epidemics plaguing India during that period.

With the rapid influx of Indians on the island, it didn't take too long for Hinduism to follow. A majority of the incoming labourers were Hindus, and they continued practising their customs and traditions leading to Hindus gaining traction as a significant ethnic community. Today, there are more than 670,000 Mauritians who identify themselves as Hindus, accounting for almost 52% of the nation's population. This also makes Mauritius the only African country with Hinduism as the dominant religion and the country with the third highest percentage of Hindus after Nepal and India.

Hindus living in Mauritius trace back their origin to states spanning the length and breadth of India such as Bihar, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Odisha. Their native land often influences the languages they speak as a wide range of Indian languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Bhojpuri have spoken apart from the native Mauritian Creole, French and English.

Fortunately, as the Hindu community in Mauritius originated from the labourers brought for working on the plantations, social stratifications such as caste systems did not propagate, and the community as a whole remains united as a whole. The community celebrates in perfect harmony all major Indian festivals and has constructed several places of religious significance that are significant places of interest for the Mauritian tourism industry.

These temples in Mauritius are the major congregation venues for the Hindus residing on the islands of Mauritius. They serve an essential role in the community-building process and are the focal point for celebrations and festivals.

Speaking of festivals, some of the major festivals celebrated by Hindus in Mauritius are:

1. Diwali - The festival of lights. This is one of the most famous religious festivals of Mauritius and celebrations aren't just limited to the Hindus. Diwali is a national public holiday in Mauritius.

Mauritius Temples, Diwali in Mauritius
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2. Ganesha Chaturthi - The birth anniversary of Ganesha. The festival is celebrated with much gusto by the Marathi community.

Mauritius Temples, Ganesha Chaturthi in Mauritius
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3. Holi - The festival of colours is a multi-hued celebration with coloured powder (Gulaal) and water flying all around. Preparation of Gujiyas - a unique Indian sweet delicacy in homes is a favourite tradition.

Mauritius Temples, Holi in Mauritius
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4. Makar Sankranti - Celebrated during the onset of spring, Makar Sankranti marks the harvest season of crops. Flying colourful kites on this day is an essential part of the celebrations.

Mauritius Temples, Makar Sankranti in Mauritius
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5. Thaipoosam Cavadee - Celebrated the South Indian Hindus, it is celebrated to mark the day when the Devas defeated the Asuras with the help of Skanda, a warrior created by Lord Shiva.

Mauritius Temples, Thaipoosam
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Mauritius' religious landscape is vibrant and dynamic. Being a secular nation, all citizens, including Hindus are free to practise and celebrate their religion without any hindrances. In fact, one estimate revealed that Mauritians on an average spend of more than 700 hours each year engaged in religious activities. If you are planning to visit Mauritius on your next trip, make sure that you blend in with the locals and join them in celebrating the festivals to enjoy your trip truly!

This post was published by Satyam Saxena


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