Weekly Island Round-Up - 01 Feb 2021
Here are 3 things happening in Mauritius this week!
1) UK is urged by the UN’s maritime court to give up its claim to the Chagos Archipelago, which is currently being used as US military base.
The UK has been urged to end its “unlawful occupation” of the Chagos Islands by the prime minister of Mauritius, after Britain’s claim to sovereignty over the strategically important islands in the Indian Ocean was comprehensively rejected by the United Nation’s special international maritime court in Hamburg.
The UK retained possession of the Chagos archipelago after Mauritius gained independence in 1968, in effective paying Mauritius more than £4m for the islands. In the early 70s, between 1,500 and 2,000 islanders were forcibly deported so that the largest island, Diego Garcia, could be leased to the US to use as an airbase. They have never been allowed to return. Mauritius has promised to let the US troops remain on a lengthy lease.
2) Les Salines de Mont Calme, Mauritius’ former salt pans which produced salt for the local area of Tamarin, could be razed to make way for a third shopping centre in the region.
Les Salines are giant salt-pans that have formed part of the backdrop of Tamarin for generations. Sea water is pumped into the salt pans, which is raked by salt workers to produce salt, using techniques which have been passed down for generations.
The Mont Calme salt works have been disused for six years, and are now facing threat of commercial development. Conservation group SOS Salines are looking into a project that will be more beneficial for the community.
3) Thousands of Mauritians celebrate Thaipoosam Cavadee- a Tamil festival which celebrates the Hindu God Muruga
Cavdee is a Tamil festival which celebrates Muruga (the Hindu God of war). It is a national holiday in Mauritius.
Before Cavadee, devotees take part in a period of cleansing, fasting and prayers.
On Cavdee itself (which took place on the 28th Jan this year), devotees take part in a vow of silence during a pilgrimage to the Kovil (temple). They’re also pierced with vels (small needles) as a symbol of devotion.