Catholicism is the most widely practiced religion. Successive arrivals are often baptized ex officio. There are about 70 churches all over the island. Some are famous, like that of Notre-Dame des Laves, which was almost destroyed by an eruption, or that of Sainte-Anne, which served as the setting for a film by François Truffault. In addition to Christmas and Easter, several pilgrimages dedicated to the Virgin Mary punctuate the year.
The pilgrimage of the Black Madonna
On May 1, the Reunionese come on pilgrimages to Sainte-Marie, in front of the Black Virgin. Legend has it that the virgin protected a brown slave who came to take refuge in this place.
The pilgrimage of Our Lady of La Salette
In September, thousands of Reunionese take part in the pilgrimage of Notre-Dame de La Salette, in Saint-Leu. To thank the virgin for having spared the city during a cholera epidemic, the priest Sayssac had a chapel built in 1859. It bears the name of the village of the Alps where Marie would have appeared to two children in 1846. Since then, La Salette is celebrated every year, on September 19, the date of the blessing of the chapel.
After the arrival of the first wave of Chinese immigrants from the Canton region in the years 1860-1870, a temple was built in Saint-Denis, rue Sainte-Anne. Chan temple, built in 1896 would thus be the oldest Chinese temple in France. It is dedicated to Guan Di, legendary hero turned god. Even if the majority of Reunionese of Chinese origin have converted to Catholicism, the will to perpetuate traditions inherited from ancestors remains strong. The island has five Chinese temples. The very last was built in 2017, in the Holy Land, on the order of Saint-Pierre.
The festivities of Chinese New Year and the birthday of Guan Di
Popular in january or february depending on the year, Chinese New Year's Day is celebrated with the family at the temple, but also in all the businesses run by the descendants of Chinese immigrants. In July, it's Guan Di's birthday. The festivities take place in the temples of Saint-Denis and Saint-Pierre as well as in the streets, with parades, dances and events. For the birthday meal, we eat 9 dishes, a lucky number.
It's new !
One tTibetan Buddhist temple opened in Montvert Les Hauts in September 2019. It is the very first in the Indian Ocean zone.
On the island, it is customary to call Reunion Islanders of the Muslim faith Zarab '. In fact, the first Muslims to arrive on the island in the XNUMXth century were Indians from Gujarat. Islam is also practiced by the Karanes, originally from Madagascar, as well as the Mahorais and Comorians who came to settle on the island. The island has about ten mosques. That of St. Louis, all blue, is one of the most beautiful.
This feast commemorates the faith of Ibrahim (Abraham in the Judeo-Christian tradition) who had agreed to sacrifice his son Ishmael by order of God. The feast of sacrifice marks the end of Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. Small local peculiarity: it happens that oxen are sacrificed instead of sheep.
This feast marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. On this occasion, big prayers and shared meals are organized in particular in Saint-Denis and Saint-Pierre.
Hinduism is practiced by about a quarter of Reunion Islanders, the first “Malbars”, the name given to Indian immigrants, brought with them rural traditions from Tamil Nadu. The island has less than ten large temples, but an incalculable number of chapels.
La walk on fire
After having observed a strict Lent, the penitents go through a brazier as a sign of devolution to the goddess Pandialé. The ceremony ends with animal sacrifices. In janvier (but also throughout the year).
The festival of lights symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Do not miss the parades of floats, concerts and entertainment throughout the island. The most famous parade remains that of Saint-André. In October / November.
At the end of the 10-day feast, dedicated to Muruga, the penitents begin a procession carrying the cavadee, a decorated wooden portico. They often have their bodies pierced with needles, as a sign of devotion. In January / February.
Le tamil new year
The Puthandu is the day when god Brahma began the creation of the universe. Parades, concerts and events are organized for the occasion. In April.