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Celebrating Hindu New Year in Mauritius: Ougadi

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Mauritius’s Ougadi: March 23

Ougadi is a public holiday in Mauritius.

Mauritius celebrates Ougadi or Telugu New Year, in the month of March. Ougadi is also celebrated in some countries where there is high concentration of Hindu such as in India. Telugu people are one of the ethnic groups of people living in Andhra Pradesh in India. Some of them have migrated overseas such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Mauritius, Fiji, Malaysia and Réunion.

The celebration of Ougadi in Mauritius encourages people to reflect on their lives and commit to the performance of everything that is good and defy evil of any form and kind. The date of the festivity every year changes as it is based on astrological sightings.

History of Mauritius’s Ougadi

According to the legend, Ugadi is the day when the Lord God of the Universe Brahma came into existence and when Krishna, the avatar or human manifestation of Hindu deity Vishnu, died in 3101 BC. This important event marked the end of the Dvapara era and the beginning of Kali era and it’s when Salivahana founded his empire on 78 AD.

The old tradition of taking a head batch with oil, coconut oil in particular, and decorating the homes of the faithful with mango leaves were taken from the belief that Hindu gods Ganesha and Kartik and were aficionados of this fruit tree.

Mauritius’s Ougadi: Traditions, Customs and Activities

Since the origin of Ougadi is a religious in nature, is tied up to a lot religious traditions which have somehow managed to intertwine with other aspects of Mauritian life. Various musical and cultural shows are organized during the holiday including cooking of delicacies or popular food common during the celebration.

One common religious tradition and rituals performed by the faithful is the purifying wash which happens before the sun rises on Saturday morning. This is called mangala snaanam. They put oil on their skin and massage “mud” that is made of up of hydrated cereals and use the mixture to massage it onto their skin. This and other rituals signify the start of the celebration of the holiday and as means to glorify the Hindu god of the universe, Brahma.

Patchadi, is a popular food served to images of their gods consisting mostly of the following: tamarind, green mangoes, salt, Chili, and lilac flowers. Listening to mantras either in temples or in television is a popular way of devotion among the followers of the Hindu faith.

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