Most mauritians belonging to the Hindu community celebrate Divali today. It is one of the most festive celebrations on the island. Weeks before the event, shelves and stalls at the markets and supermarkets are laden with sweet potatoes, special flours, earthen lamps and fairy lights. A week prior to the festival, shops almost go out of stock as they sell pails of paint, house ornaments , lightbulbs among other stuff. For local people, it’s time for Spring cleaning. Door mats, curtains, bedsheets are replaced by new ones to bring in luck. All water hoses are out, splashing clean windows and driveways. A special mood is set and enhanced today by commercial activities. Malls hold DIY workshops, Divali sales etc…
Sweets, sweets and sweets….
On Divali’s eve, all kitchens are busy. Kettles whistle, pressure cookers shake and ovens are on. Everyone is busy making indian mittai (mini indian cakes) – laddoo, burfi, jelabi, naan katai, rasgoola, gulab jamoun, sweet potato cakes, adursum, …the list is endless. The indian cakes are mainly made from flour, bean flour, sugar, coconut, spices, milk and butter. These cakes are then shared after the morning prayer among neighbours and relatives. Generally cake boxes have 3 to 7 different types of cakes.
The celebration of good over evil
The popular story behind Divali, is the celebration of good over evil. As Rama rescued Sitafrom Ravana, he came triumphantly from his journey starting from Sri Lanka, crossing South to North India. As he reached the North in the evening, people lit his way and this explains why Divali is also known as the Festival of Lights as diyas (lamps) are lit. The story also explains why Tamil people (originally from South India) celebrate Divali on the eve as Rama went through the South first before reaching North India.
Lights and Rangolis
Houses are decorated with lights, windows are lit and rangolis are made with coloured rice as a symbol of prosperity.
A.V-TAYER -October, 2017.Mauritius.