Sing, Dance, Celebrate
If there is one tradition that best represents Mauritian history and culture, it is Sega. Sega is a style of music AND a style of dance. It grew from a mixture of the different cultures living on the island. While its exact roots are unknown, many believe Sega started with the African slaves that lived in Mauritius in the 18th century. This African music and dance combined with the European influences to create a unique style.
Sega songs are sung in Mauritian Creole, which is a mixture of French and several African languages.
Mauritian Creole developed as a way for slaves who spoke different African languages to communicate. The lyrics of the earliest Sega songs talked about hardship and longing for freedom.
Today, Sega is the national dance and music of Mauritius. Performers still sing in the traditional Mauritian Creole, but they perform modern versions of the dance called Sega Salon and Sega Touristear.
Sega Salon is danced at home and improvised. This style is similar to the original style of Sega. Sega Touristear is usually performed for tourists. For this style, male and female dancers flirt with one another in a courtship dance. Watching it live, you definitely get the message!
With its multicultural population, Mauritius is packed with a number of other customs and celebrations. For example, the most common formal clothing in Mauritius is the sari. The sari has been worn in India for more than 2,000 years and continues to be worn today. In Mauritius, saris are mostly worn during celebrations like Holi or formal events, like weddings.
The word “sari” comes from a Sanskrit word, meaning ’strip of cloth,’ and that’s exactly what it is: one LONG piece of cloth. It seems simple to wear, but don’t be fooled: it took two people to help get me properly wrapped up!
From colorful clothing to song and dance, this tiny island is a wealth of traditions!