Every year top top the small island that Mauritius a great pilgrimage occurs. Hundreds of Hindus make the rugged trip to a volcanic crater that dwellings the Ganga Talao, a lake raised up high over the Indian Ocean, because that a touch that divinity.

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holy water

there are few similarities in between the Ganges and also Ganga Talao at first glance. One is a substantial river coursing through south Asia, the other a placid lake. For Hindus however, the link that binding the 2 bodies the water is strong; spiritual and essential.

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In 1887 a priest declared to watch the waters of Ganga Talao flow from the goddess Ganga in a dream – the exact same goddess that personifies the divine waters of the Ganges. Word of this revelation spread, transforming Ganga Talao. A an easy lake no more, the was now the embodiment the a Hindu god, linked directly to the mighty Ganges situated almost 4,000 mile away.


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Ever due to the fact that worshipers have actually journeyed come the spiritual lake, a social touchstone for the island’s Indian emigrants and also a connect to your South asian past. This day it sits at the heart of the island’s most essential Hindu festival, Maha Shivaratri.

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To recognize the celebration’s meaning is to know the complicated history of Mauritius’ Indian community. The island’s Hindus space the descendants of fifty percent a million indentured laborers, topics of the brother Empire lugged to Mauritius in the nineteen century with the promise that a better life. However the life that awaited them was far from that.


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an illness was rife aboard the vessels crossing the Indian Ocean, through cholera, smallpox, malaria and also yellow fever claiming stays at sea or on countless quarantine islands at the doorstep the Mauritius. Those that made it to the mainland functioned in the street cane fields in tough conditions. It was no slavery, however it much from a common working environment.

“When they came they brought very (few) product possessions,” defines Sarita Boodhoo, that has battled to preserve the traditions of she forefathers. “What they brought in your heart, in your throat, in their psyche was that way of life of hundreds of years.”

main to their method of life was your religion. The revelation the Ganga Talao was attached to the Ganges permitted the Hindus that Mauritius to bathe in sacred waters as soon as more.


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“The water is pure,” says Sateesh Dayal, head priest at one of the numerous temples at the water’s edge. “It’s pure (and) that divine.”

Maha Shivaratri celebrate the god Shiva, among Hinduism’s three significant deities, the creator and the destroyer. Pilgrims lug hand-made “kanwars” – shrines devoted to Shiva – to Ganga Talao, and also once they find a place at the water’s edge, they carry out their very own private ceremonies v offerings the fruit, incense and also fire.

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“When they carry out their prayer with some water they room purified,” Dayal explains. “While (they are) putting the water, the power that Shiva has, that power is transferred to you.”

For people who cannot make the pilgrimage, those in ~ the lake will certainly bottle increase the water and also return the to their friends and families. It’s a opportunity for everyone to pray because that forgiveness and also feel the touch of the sacred liquid.

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“I have to go for all my family, mine son, for the civilization in mine village,” claims worshiper Raguv Mahadeo. “(It) is a spiritual place. Us go there, we have some stresses. We end up that (stress) when we go there. All the stress, the goes.”