Mauritian Culture

Greetings

  • Greetings may vary depending on the person’s background.
  • The most common greeting when people are meeting for the first time is a firm handshake.
  • Once people are familiar with one another, they will typically greet each other with a ‘la bise’ (the French greeting of a kiss on both cheeks).
  • Many Mauritians, particularly those from traditional Muslim families, may feel uncomfortable shaking hands with women. In this instance, people tend to smile and offer a nod of acknowledgment politely. This greeting may be warmer if the two people are familiar with one another.
  • Among Hindu Mauritians, particularly those living in rural areas, a common form of greeting is to press the palms of one's hands together in front of the chest and say 'Namaste' ('I greet the god within you'). This is sometimes accompanied by a nod of the head or a bow depending on the status of the person you are greeting.
  • Muslim Mauritians may informally greet each other with the statement ‘Salaam-Alaykum’ (‘May peace be with you’).
  • In formal settings, saying ‘Bon jour’ (‘Good day') or ‘How are you?' is standard. Informally, one might say ‘Ki position?’ (literally ‘What is the position?’ but has the same meaning as ‘How are things with you?’ in Kreol).
  • Depending on the age difference between people, one would appropriately address the older individual by familial titles – such as brother (frère), sister (sœur), father (papa), mother (mama), uncle (tonton), aunt (tantine), grandfather (grand-père) or grandmother (grand-mère). These titles may be used for any elders, not just relatives.
  • Children usually address their elders by a familial title rather than their name.
  • People who are of similar age and are close to one another may refer to each other as ‘cousin’.
  • Indo-Mauritians have specific terms for relatives on the and maternal side.

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