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International > The picture of the week > Firewalking in Mauritius

Picture of the week (No.7): Firewalking in Mauritius.                         Share

Each week (actually about 3 times a month), Willgoto selects a nice picture and shows it here. Firewalking in Mauritius is the topic of the seventh picture in this series. Walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers is an ancestral religious practice that occurs still today inter alia among Hindus in the islands of the Indian Ocean. It is a truly impressive event.

Firewalking in Mauritius
Firewalking in Mauritius.
A believer, carrying a conical floral composition ("karlon") on his head, walks barefoot on a bed of hot embers at a Hindu festival in a village in the highlands of Mauritius.

The country. Mauritius Island is located southeast of the Indian Ocean about 2,000 km from the African coast. It is the largest island of the Republic of Mauritius, which also includes Rodrigues and a few other smaller islands. With the French island of La Reunion, the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues form the Mascarene Archipelago. The economy of the country, which has long been based on the growing of sugar cane, is now more diversified. Financial services, tourism, textiles and computer services are today among the other main pillars of the economy.

Mauritius remained uninhabited a very long time. For centuries it was only frequented by transient sailors, mainly Arab sailors. From the 16th century, the Portuguese settled on the island and were followed by the Dutch, the French and then the British who ruled the island successively until its independence in 1968. African slaves as well as Indian and Chinese workers ("coolies") were conveyed to Mauritius in large amounts in order to work in sugar cane plantations.

From this history, it results that the culture of the Mauritian population is very diverse. English (in administration and business), French (in the media, the culture and the daily life) and Creole (also in everyday life) are the main spoken languages in Mauritius. Hinduism is the religion of half the population while Christianity and, to a lesser extent, Islam are those of the other half.

The arrival of human beings and pests (rats, ...) which follow them on the island led to the extinction of the dodo at the end of the 17th century. The dodo was endemic in Mauritius. It was a big bird, which had lost the ability to fly due to the absence of predators. The disappearance of the dodo has become emblematic of species extinction due to human activity. The legendary bird appears in various novels, tales, and films as well as on postage stamps.

See also other photos from firewalking and Mauritius:


Firewalking


Grand Baie


Chamarel


Botanical garden

Tourism. Mauritius is a major tourist destination, which suits both budget backpackers and holidaymakers looking for exclusive and luxurious holidays. Seaside activities (beach relaxation, boat trips, water sports,...) in a tropical environment are the most important asset of tourism in Mauritius, except on the south coast which is on the contrary very wild.

Mauritius still has many other attractions: the Botanical Garden of Pamplemousses, some historic sites, attractive natural sites (Chamarel, Morne, Cap Malheureux, and Ile aux Cerfs), several pleasure gardens and zoos such as Casela Park or Vanilla Reserve des Mascareignes, a few small nice museums such as the Blue Penny Museum (philately), the Eureka House (colonial house) or the Shell Museum (shells), beautiful golf courses, nature reserves like the ile des Aigrettes and Black River Gorges national park of (trekking).

Firewalking. Walking barefoot on a bed of glowing charcoal in the hope of being forgiven or obtaining a divine favor is an ancestral ritual that still now occurs among Hindus in Mauritius and other islands of the Indian Ocean. During about 20 days, the participants prepare themselves carefully. They purify themselves through prayers and abstinence. The day of the walking, they take part in a short procession into the village in a very tense atmosphere and then go walking calmly barefoot over a bed of glowing embers. The event takes place in a great religious fervor.

In Mauritius, a large crowd usually attends this event, but foreign tourists are rare. Firewalking occurs mostly in the hinterland, rather than in seaside resorts. Firewalking occurs in other religions. In Europe, end of June, a similar event takes place yearly at the festival of St. John the Baptist in the Spanish town of San Pedro Manrique. Similarly, in a dozen villages in the north of Greece and the South of Bulgaria, at the festival of Saint Constantine on May 21 among some Orthodox Christians (the Anastenaria in Greece and the Nestinari in Bulgaria), participants carrying religious icons dance barefoot on hot coals. However, these dances are more and more performed only to attract tourists.

Authentic firewalking can't be compared with commercial shows of firewalking that tourists may watch in some holiday resorts.

The
author of the picture: the photos above belong to Willgoto. You find here all our pictures from Mauritius.

See also:
Picture of the week 1: Bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. It is endemic to Cuba.
Picture of the week 2: Pagoda of the Golden Rock in Myanmar. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world.
Picture of the week 3: Seychelles beach. Seychelles is a perfect destination for a dream holiday.
Picture of the week 4: Lemur of Madagascar (Coquerel's sifaka), an endangered species of primates, which, like all other species of lemurs, is endemic to Madagascar.
Picture of the week 5: World heritage in Cambodia. The temple of Banteay Srei, better known as 'Citadel of the women', in Cambodia is a jewel of Khmer art and a world heritage site.
Picture of the week 6: Bull shark and tiger shark. Both sharks are unfortunately known for fatal attacks on humans. However, experienced divers can approach them and swim with them.

See  all our "Pictures of the week".


 

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Each week, Willgoto selects a nice picture. Firewalking in Mauritius is the topic of the week. Walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers is an ancestral religious practice that occurs still today among Hindus in the islands of the Indian Ocean.