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The Religion and Culture of Indian Immigrants in Mauritius and the Effect of Social Change

  • K. Hazareesingh (a1)


Mauritius is a British territory in the Indian Ocean 500 miles to the east of Madagascar. It measures 720 square miles and has a population of 700,000 people whose ancestors came from France (the original settlers), Africa (slaves), India (indentured immigrants), and China (shopkeepers). Mauritius was discovered by the Portuguese in the early years of the sixteenth century, and was subsequently occupied and finally abandoned by the Dutch, who exterminated the famous bird the Dodo. It was held by the French from 1715 until 1810 when it was conquered by the British at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.



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1 Baron Grant, Letters from Mauritius in the eighteenth century (published 1886), p. 20.

2 Ibid., p. 7.

3 Pannikar, K. M., India and the Indian Ocean, 3rd ed. (London, G. Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1962), p. 30.

4 Pike, Nicolas, Sub Tropical Rambles (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1873), p. 371.

5 Frere, W. E. and Williamson, V. A., Report of the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the treatment of immigrants in Mauritius (London, William Clorves & Sons, 1875), pp. 1516.

6 H. G. Wilson, History of the Madras Army.

7 Smith, Vincent A., The Oxford History of India from the Earliest Times to the end of 1911 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1920), p. 702.

8 Mouat, Frederic John, Rough notes of a trip to Reunion, the Mauritius & Ceylon (London, W. Thacker & Co., 1852), p. 96.

9 Raghavaiengar, S. S., Memorandum on the Progress of the Madras Presidency during the last forty years of British Administration (1853 to 1892) (Madras, Government Press, 1898).

10 Majumdar, R. C., Raychandhur, H. C. and Datta, K., An Advanced History of India (London, MacMillan & Co., Ltd., 2nd ed., 1950), p. 210.

11 Mouat, op. cit., p. 95.

12 Majumdar, Raychandhur and Datta, op. cit., p. 820.

13 Ibid., p. 821.

14 Hazareesingh, K., A History of Indians in Mauritius (Port-Louis, The General Printing & Stationery Cy. Ltd., 1950), p. 74.

15 Double cut means that for one day's absence two days’ wages were deducted by the employer. The pass system refers to the practice of requiring an immigrant to carry an identification card on his person at all times. Failure to produce the card would result in summary arrest by the police.

16 Hazareesingh, op. cit., p. 201.

17 Beejadhur, A., Les lndiens à L'lle Maurice (Port-Louis, La Typographic Moderne, 1935), p. 25.

18 Pike, op. cit.

19 Basham, A. L., The Wonder that was India (London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1954).

20 The Hindi Pracharini Sabha founded in 1935 has done much to promote the study and teachings of Hindi in Mauritius.

21 Hazareesingh, op. cit., p. 190.

22 Boodhun, K., ed., Indian Centenary Book (Port-Louis, La Typographic Moderne, 1936), p. 16.

23 Mr. Boodhun was the first Indian to be a Barrister-at-law of the Middle Temple. He was for some time a nominated member of the Legislative Council.

24 Radhakrishnan, S., “Hinduism”, in Legacy of India, ed., Garratt, G. T. (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1937).

25 Boodhun, op. cit., p. 5.

26 Ibid., p. 32.

27 The Indian Cultural Review, published by the Indian Cultural Association, July, 1936.

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid.

30 Dr. Ramgoolam is now the Premier of Mauritius. Every year he takes part in the Shivaratri Festival and marches at the head of the procession of Shiva pilgrims on their return from the holy lake Paritalau.

31 The Indian Cultural Review, July, 1961.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
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