Legend has it that when Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati travelled over the lands created by Brahma on a flying vessel made of flowers, they were captivated by the beauty of Mauritius. As they landed on the then deserted island, a few drops of the River Ganges that Shiva kept in the locks of his hair are said to have fallen into the crater of Grand Bassin, which immediately filled up into a lake. Lord Shiva promised that one day people from the banks of the Ganges would settle in Mauritius and make an annual pilgrimage to take its waters. Thousands of years later, his prophecy came true and each February or March around half the population of Mauritius travel to the crater lake for the festival of Maha Shivaratree. Hindu devotees walk from all over the island dressed in white to leave offerings of food and flowers during this four-day celebration which translates as “the great night of Shiva”. It’s believed that those who fast and offer prayers bring good luck into their life. Devotees end the celebration by carrying water back to pour on the Shiva lingam, a symbolic representation of the deity, at their local temple.

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