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harmony childrenMauritius has been referred to as the "miracle of peaceful coexistence," for how people with roots in Europe, Asia and Africa, live side by side in harmony and respect each other’s culture and religion. Out of a population of 1.2 million, 70% are descended from the Indo-region, with about 40% of those being Hindu, 16% Muslim and 14% Tamil. The remaining population is approximately 25% Creole, of African descent, and 3% Chinese, and 1% of French descent.

It is not unusual for places of worship for different religions to be found side by side with Hindu or Tamil temples next to churches or mosques. Another example of religious harmony can be found through the fact that major religious festivals are often celebrated by Mauritians of all religions. Non-Hindu’s frequently make the pilgrimage to Grand Bassin for Maha Shivratree and nearly everyone will celebrate Christmas in one form or another and similarly the Chinese New Year. Certainly Mauritians seem to be united in celebrating almost any occasion with firecrackers! Generally people are respectful of others religions and will dress according to hosts faith when attending weddings for example.

Furthermore, dishes that are attributed to the various cultures/religions found on the island are in fact considered ‘national’ dishes that are enjoyed and belong to all, whether it be the ‘briani’ (biryani), a speciality of Muslims, or Indian curries, or Creole rougailles or Chinese fried rice.

However despite these examples of integration, ‘harmony’ is still a slightly romantic notion, interfaith marriages are still not commonplace and there have been incidents of racial tension in the past.