Maha Shivaratree is a public holiday of great importance to many of the Hindu population in Mauritius. It is the “Great Night of Shiva” and commemorates the marriage of Shiva to Parvati according to Hindu tradition.
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Maha Shivaratree is celebrated each year on the 13th night and 14th day of the 11th month of the Hindu Calendar. That usually comes in February or March on the Gregorian Calendar.
The main Maha Shivaratree event in Mauritius takes place at Lake Ganga Talao, located in the centre of the island. Ever since holy water from the Ganges River of India was poured into this lake back in 1972, it too has become a major Hindu holy site.
Large crowds of devout Hindus set out on pilgrimage to the lake on Maha Shivaratree. They dress in full white and carry large bamboo-and-paper depictions of various Hindu gods and virtues on their shoulders. At the lake shore, they pray, present offerings at one of the numerous lakeside shrines, and gather holy water from the lake into vessels.
Once back at home again, devotees pour out the holy lake water over a statue of Shiva that they have in or near their home.