2008 News Archive - Holidays - Mauritius celebrates endings and beginnings

08 11 2007

The island of Mauritius has a unique way of celebrating the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the Tamil year, in an event which takes place in mid-January.

Thai Pongal, which is part of the multi-day Pongal festival, is observed in Mauritius with a range of colourful activities that could be of interest to holiday-makers on a winter break.

Cleaning the house and burning rubbish is thought to help banish old and evil spirits; meanwhile, family and friends also exchange gifts to mark this new beginning.

Pongal - which lends its name to the festival - is a food made from boiled rice which is then topped with brown sugar, nuts and raisins. If the dish boils over while it is being prepared, it is considered a sign of prosperity.

The resulting dish is offered to birds and cattle - and the latter animal is washed and painted as part of a ritual beforehand.

Pongal is also celebrated by Tamils in other countries, such as south India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Singapore.

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