Mauritius is a multicultural island. You will find locals of various backgrounds as well as immigrants from all over the world here. As a result, the island is bursting with cultural activities that will help you discover Mauritius in its truest form. If you feel like it, don’t hesitate to go out of your comfort zone and try typical cultural activities in Mauritius.
Mauritius is famous for its rhythmic Sega songs and dances. In colonial times, the Sega was slaves’ only means of entertainment and solace. While original Sega songs had a more mournful rhythm, modern tunes feature happy and carefree notes. At the very heart of Mauritian culture, Sega songs are often accompanied by the traditional beat of handmade instruments. From the traditional “Tabla” to the “Ravanne”, the fusion of music will have you singing along in no time.
Luckily enough, almost every hotel in Mauritius has a “Sega Night” where you can enjoy live entertainment after dinner. Additionally, after the show, you can learn basic Sega steps and join the professional dancers. In fact, some hotels might even provide the traditional Sega outfits which basically comprise of a midriff-showing top and full, flowery skirt for ladies, as well as a loose tropical shirt and slacks for men.
Mauritius is one of the few countries where the natives come from an extended variety of cultures and religions. As a result, experiencing some of the main cultural activities often includes various types of multi-cultural buffets. While some hotels do offer these buffets, don’t hesitate to drive across the island to discover some of the best local restaurants or snacks. It is always a good idea to give smaller family-owned business a try, as you will be treated to the kind of fusion cuisine that gives Mauritius its international reputation. An example of a multi-cultural meal might include boiled noodles with meat and a fried egg with a side of samosas. A starter would typically include creole-style grilled meat and a Greek salad.
Sundowners and traditional Friday Nights are an integral part of Mauritian culture. While most major resorts on the island offer typical Mauritian sundowners, the local pubs offer a more authentic experience. These normally include plenty of music and typical Mauritian snacks such as “Poisson Corne Frire” which is basically a whole fried fresh fish garnished with fried onions and parsley. This is accompanied by ice cold Mauritian beer and plenty of engaging conversation, dance and laughter. Upscale establishments often go for a more polished experience with local beer, Mauritian rum and cocktails. The best thing about Friday nights in Mauritius is that most pubs and hotels feature local artists, singers and stand-up comedians to add some extra fun to your night.
Porlwi by Light
While the capital of Port Louis is extremely busy during the day, it is pretty quiet at night. Once a year, however, Port Louis flares to light at night, thanks to the ‘Porlwi by Light’ festival. It is one of the main cultural activities in Mauritius. Porlwi by Light will enable you to discover the capital like never before: a contemporary extravaganza that’s practically bursting with celebration, sound and lights, this festival sees every major building decked in haunting hues for a striking effect.
This festival also offers you the chance of attending a variety of local shows, exhibitions, frescoes, installations, performances as well as concerts. This all-night activity is best explored on foot and gathers Mauritians from all over the island. Eateries and street vendors work all night, giving you the chance to indulge in some shopping under an almost mystical atmosphere. There is an undeniable sense of merriment and companionship in the air as everybody comes together to eat, shop and attend the numerous shows that literally spring up in every corner of Port Louis.
Also known as the festival of light, Diwali shows occur once a year in October or November. While Diwali is primarily a Hindu festival, the multicultural lifestyle in Mauritius means that everyone gets to partake in this celebration, regardless of religion. On this day, Mauritians from all over the island distribute boxes of assorted sweets to each other. At night, the houses are decked and illuminated in strings and strings of fairy lights. Some families even place rows of earthen lamps in front of their houses.
On Diwali, several institutions and hotels organise special themed shows and activities. An example is the “Rangoli”, which basically entails creating designs and images on the hotel driveway using coloured rice. Diwali shows are mesmerising with dances and plays punctuated by sparkly multi-coloured outfits as well as local music.
Related: Things to do in Mauritius
China Town Festival
A nationwide event, the China Town Festival attracts plenty of visitors- both tourists and locals- each year. Organised by the Mauritian Chamber of Commerce, this festival will help you understand the history of Chinese migrants and workers in Mauritius. This festival is bursting with traditional dances and songs as well as colorful shows based on Chinese and Mongolian culture.
The China Town Festival normally spans across the entire weekend. While shows are held at night, you will be able to explore the decorated streets of Chinatown by daylight, where endless stalls have been set up to help you sample local Chinese delicacies. Visitors can also purchase handcrafted souvenirs to bring back home.
*Feature image: Jenny Mealing on Flickr
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