Culture

7 good reasons to go on the Maha Shivaratri pilgrimage

3rd March 2016 0 comments

Every year, during the Maha Shivaratri festival, thousands of pilgrims flow along the roads of Mauritius and converge to the sacred lake of Grand Bassin. People of other faith often join the procession to feel the verve of this great Hindu festival… Why not you?

1. Meet the pilgrims

Pilgrims at Grand Bassin

Photo by Minesh Ramchurn

As you join the Maha Shivaratri procession, you will mingle with the crowd of pilgrims heading to the sacred lake of Grand Bassin and share an exceptional moment with them. Enjoy the convivial atmosphere and seize the opportunity to chat with the devotees to learn more about this festival. You will not feel alone since a growing number of non-Hindus join the procession to satisfy their curiosity for other cultures.

2. Culture and traditions

Holy water of Grand Bassin

Photo by Minesh Ramchurn

All along the pilgrimage to the lake, you will witness several rituals, which tell a great deal on the Hindus’ deep faith and devotion. You will learn a lot on traditions they inherited from their Indian forefathers. The Hindu culture is widely present on the island since Hindus represent about 48% of the local population, and 68% of the Mauritian people are of Indian origin.

3. Tasty breaks

Indian specialities
Maha Shivaratri also is the occasion to indulge in tasty pleasures such as hot tea with sweet milk and Indian specialities that you will hardly find outside the festival season. All over the island, volunteers set up tents along the pilgrimage route to offer free drinks and food to travellers, some of who have been walking for several days. After a few hours walking, you will not resist a tasty break with both sweet and savoury food to taste.

4. A healthy walk

Pilgrims walk from their home to Ganga Talao

Photo by Minesh Ramchurn

Maha Shivaratri is long walk of several days, especially for those who want to go the whole way from home to the sacred lake. You do not have to do that much, but an evening walk of just a few hours is enough to make the most of this experience and really immerse into the festival’s spirit. From Grand Bassin, a fee-based shuttle service is available to visitors who want to catch a quick ride back home.

5. Grand Bassin by night

Grand Bassin by night

Photo by Minesh Ramchurn

We highly recommend that you set to arrive at Grand Bassin by night or in early morning. A night walk is more convenient to avoid the hot temperatures of March during the day. Moreover, the site is filled with a special flair at night: lights reflect in the lake, religious songs and incense rise in the air, and the place takes on a mystical aura.

6. Immerse in another world

Huge statue of Lord Shiva

Photo by Minesh Ramchurn

As you come closer to the site, you will immerse in a totally different world. Large roads and sidewalks, along which pilgrims shuffle in a final effort, have been built to accommodate thousands of visitors. At the end of the path, a huge statue of the Lord Shiva welcomes you with its serene and confident face. Then, you will discover the lake, the temples, the music and the prayers, which will carry you far away…

7. A unique experience

Sunset at Grand Bassin

Photo by Minesh Ramchurn

For all the foregoing reasons, the Maha Shivaratri pilgrimage really is a unique experience you will not get the chance to live anywhere else. You will leave the place in bewilderment, as if waking up from a mysterious dream… This journey is to be lived with your partner or your family, with a group of friends or alone for the more adventurous.

Want to convince your friends or family to join in? Share this post!

Photo Credits:
Minesh Ramchurn
skyscrapercity.com

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