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Today marks the celebration of the Festival of Light for Hindus world wide. I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to anything even vaguely reminiscent of the Orient, and Diwali holds a special place in my memory from time spent living in India during this colourful and chaotic holy day.

Diwali celebrates the homecoming of Lord Rama (depicted above) along with Sita and his brother Lakshmana, after a 14 year exile to Ayodhya. 

In Africa Diwali is celebrated by the hundreds of thousands of people of Indian Origin who live largely along the east coast of the continent between South Africa and Kenya. Mauritius is the only country in Africa where Hinduism is the dominant religion and the Indo-Mauritian people represent the majority population. The first Indians arrived on the island early in the 17th century, and two to three centuries later the aroma of samosas and cumin seeds still fill the air.

Tonight, Mauritius will be turned into a twinkling Indian Ocean star. A sea of small clay lamps are lit to signify the triumph of good over evil. Diwali is so popular in Mauritius it is proclaimed a national public holiday. Rows of flickering candles and lamps light up the island, firecrackers illuminate the night skies surrounding the capital of Port Louis, and Hindus share sweets with friends and neighbours, no matter your religion

Travel Info

When: Wednesday October 26th, 2011. The date of Diwali varies each year according to the lunar cycle and festivities can last as long as five days.
Where: All over Mauritius.
Contact: Mauritius Tourism. 
Tel: +230 210 1545, web.

For more cultural events happening across Africa visit our Africa Calendar featured in every issue of Safari.

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