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Mauritius is an island with people of many different faiths. Places of worship on the island date to 1752. One of the modern wonders attracting tens of thousands of worshippers annually is the 108-foot-tall Hindu god, Lord Shiva regally placed at the entrance of Gangatalao, also known as Grand Bassin. Majestic even on a wintry day when the sun disappeared briefly, the statue of the Hindu deity looms larger than life near the lake which plays hosts to thousands of worshippers. Based on the original Shiva statue in Gujarat, India, it was inaugurated in 2007 and became operational during the Maha Shivratri celebration in 2008. Standing at 33 metres it is also the highest known statue in Mauritius and the second biggest statue of Lord Shiva in the world. Compared to other iconic statues, you’ve got the Christ the Redeemer statue in Corcovado Rio in Brazil, which is only the fourth biggest statue of Christ in the world with nations like Bolivia, Mexico and Peru also boasting tall Christ statues. Construction is underway of a new statue of Durga Maa Bhavani of similar height next to the imposing Mangal Mahadev statue. The main reason is that the temple premises on which the Lord Shiva statue resides becomes heavily congested during Maha Shivrati prayers so another temple would help ease the overcrowding at prayer time. Tens of thousands make the pilgrimage to the temple on foot when Maha Shivratri is celebrated every year normally around February or March. Hindu worshippers walk from their home to the sacred lake near the statue from all corners of Mauritius. Many believers were offering prayers at the lake near the statue but it was a far cry from the tens of thousands who made the pilgrimage during Maha Shivratri in February. Gangatalao or Grand Bassin is a crater lake situated in a secluded mountain area in the district of Savanne, deep in the heart of Mauritius. It is about 1800 feet above sea level. It is considered the most sacred Hindu location in Mauritius as well as a major tourist place of interest. During the Maha Shivratri most of the devotees from all parts of the island leave their homes and journey to Grand Bassin on foot despite the fact that cars and buses are also preferred means of transport. It has been a tradition that volunteer people offer foods and drinks to the pilgrims (the devotees). Devotees often built Kanwars which are then carried to the sacred lake. Maha Shivratri in Mauritius is, for many Hindu families, a favorable time of the year to meet, and offer prayers together at Ganga tTalao. On the day of the festival, everyone goes to his/her local temple and offers the sacred water collected at the lake. The name “Ganga” is associated with the Ganges River in India and “Talao” means pool. Hindus believe that the lake is sacred. Part of the original forest near the lake is still found alongside. Statistics provided by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority says that last year between January and December 89 058 South Africans visited the island, compared to 86 232 in the previous year. People I spoke said while it is a tradition for Mauritians from all walks of life to walk from their homes to the temple in Grand Bassin, overseas interest is high and many South Africans make the journey during prayer time. Statistics provided by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority says that last year between January and December 89 058 South Africans visited the island, compared to 86 232 in the previous year.I would suggest to put the phrase I have highlighted here. what do you think?
Mauritius is a country with diverse religious faiths. If one leaves the beach for a bit one can find among others the St Louis Cathedral in Port Louis which was built in 1752, the Al Aqsa Mosque which was built in 1805 and Father Laval’s Tomb from 1864. Father Laval was known as a churchman of the slaves in Mauritius. He was beatified by the Pope John Paul II, who prayed at the tomb, a popular tourist attraction, in 1979.

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