Thursday, June 10, 2010

Statue of Lord Shiva in Mauritius

Mauritius, the island nation off the coast of continental Africa in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900 kilometers east of Madagascar, is the only country in Africa where Hinduism is the dominant religion, with about 52 per cent of the population following Hinduism, as of 2000. Hinduism originally came to Mauritius with Indians who worked as indentured servants of the European settlers of the island. The first Hindus of Mauritius arrived mostly from the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

One of the biggest Hindu festivals in Mauritius is Maha Shivaratri (Great Night of Lord Shiva), which takes place in the months of February/March. Four to nine days of ceremony and fasting lead up to an all-night vigil of Lord Shiva worship. Other important Hindu festivals in Mauritius are Thaipusam (honoring Lord Murugan), Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali, the festival of lights.

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