Netherlands West Indies

Netherlands West Indies

Netherlands West Indies: see Netherlands Antilles.
Hinduism is the leading single religion of the Indo-Caribbean communities of the West Indies. Hindus are particularly well represented in Trinidad and Tobago, where they constituted 25 percent of the total population, as of 1995. Smaller groups of Indo-Caribbeans live elsewhere in the Caribbean, especially Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Hinduism in Anguilla

The total Hindu population of Anguilla is just 45, according to the census of 2001. Virtually all are recent immigrants from India.

Hinduism in Antigua and Barbuda

The percentage of Hinduism in Antigua and Barbuda is 0.1%. The population is made up of Indian immigrants, and also a tiny population from Pakistan.

Hinduism in Barbados

Today, Barbados has 2,000 Indians living in the country. They came as recently immigrants from Guyana. Because of the huge Indian population, Hinduism became one of the growing religeons of Barbados.

Hinduism in Bermuda

Most of the Hindu's in Bermuda are from Sri Lankan or Tamil descents. The population of Hindu's in Bermuda is 0.2%

Hinduism in Cayman Islands

Hinduism is probably the smallest religion in Cayman islands. There were just 98 Hindus in Caymans according to 2000 census(Accounting for 0.25% of the population). Even the Bahá'í community was three times bigger, at 0.77% and the Jews numbered 1.77%.

Hinduism in Dominican Republic

Buddhism and Hinduism are both showing expansion of their adherents in The Dominican Republic.

Hinduism in Grenada

According to the 2000 census there were 700 Hindus in Grenada making 0.7% of the total population.

Hinduism in Jamaica

Jamaica was once home to 25,000 Hindus (till mid 20th century). However, most of them abandoned their ancient religion in favour of Christianity. In the last few decades, the population of Hindus in Jamaica decreased steeply. In 1970s, 5,000 identified themselves as Hindus. Since then, the Hindu population of Jamaica has risen and it has become the second largest religion (after Christianity) in Jamaica. Diwali (pronounced Divali), the festival of lights, is celebrated in Jamaica ever year. There were 1,453 Hindus in Jamaica according to the 2001 census.

Hinduism in Montserrat

According to the 2000 census there were 9 Hindus in Montserrat, accounting for 0.1% of the total population and forming the 4th largest religious entity.

Hinduism in the Netherlands Antilles

Just like Antigua and Barbuda, the population of Hinduism in the Netherlands Antilles is 0.1%. Hinduism is mainly practiced on one of the islands like Saint Martin.

Hinduism in St.Lucia

The situation here is similar to Jamaica. Most of the Indo-Caribbean community have converted to Christianity. Only 325 people were reported as Hindus in the 2001 census(0.2% of the total population census). Most of them were recent immigrants. Of the original East Indian community, only 1-2% retains Hinduism.

Hinduism in St.Kitts-Nevis

Hindus make up 1.5% of the total population of St.Kitts-Nevis according to the 2000 census. This totals to 600 people. Hinduism is the second largest religion in St.Kitts-Nevis after Christianity.

Hinduism in St.Vincent-Grenadines

The 2000 census reported 3700 Hindus in St.V-G making up 3.3% of the total population. After Christianity, Hinduism is the second largest religion here.

Hinduism in US Virgin Islands

According to the 2000 census there were more than 400 Hindus in the USVI (0.4% of the population). Most of them were recent immigrants from India, and most of them reside on St. Thomas.

Hinduism in Trinidad and Tobago

A decade after slavery was abolished in 1834, the British government gave permission for the colonians to import indentured labour from India to work on the plantations. Throughout the remainder of the century, Trinidad's population growth came primarily from East Indian laborers. By 1871, there were 27,425 East Indians, approximately 22 percent of the population of Trinidad and Tobago; by 1911 that figure had grown to 110,911, or about 33 percent of all residents of the islands. According to the 2000 census there were 250,760 Hindus in T&T contributing 22.49% of the total population and 56.19% of the population of the Indo-Caribbeans.

During the initial decades of Indian indenture, Indian cultural forms were met with either contempt or indifference by the Christian majority. Hindus have made many contributions to Trinidad history and culture even though the state historically regarded Hindus as second class citizens.Hindus in Trinidad struggled over the granting of adult franchise, the Hindu marriage bill, the divorce bill, cremation ordinance, and others. After Trinidad's independence from colonial rule, Hindus were marginalized by the African based People's National Movement. The opposing party, the People's Democratic party, was portrayed as a "Hindu group", and other anti-Hindu tactics were used against them. Hindus were castigated as a "recalcitrant and hostile minority". Hindus were alienated by such Christian communal groups. The support of the PNM government to creole art forms in Carnivals, while their public rejection and ridicule of Hindu art forms, was a particular source of contention for the Hindu minority. The displacement of PNM from power in 1985 would improve the situation.

There has been persistent discontent among the Hindus with their marginalization. Many Christianized groups portray Hindus as "clannish, backward and miserly".During the General Elections of 1986, the absence of the Bhagvad Gita and the Quran at polling stations for required oath-taking was interpreted as a gross insult to Hindus and Muslims. The absence of any Hindu religious texts at the official residence of the President of Trinidad and Tobago during the swearing in of the new Government in 1986 was perceived as another insult to the minority communities since they were represented in the government. The exclusivist Christian symbolism operative in the country's top national award, the Trinity Cross, has persistently stung Hindu religious sensibility. This was to climax in 1995 with the refusal of the Hindu Dharmaacharya to accept the award, while issuing a statement that his action should be seen as an opportunity for those in authority to create a national award that recognizes the plurality of religious beliefs in this country. The national education system and curriculum have been repeatedly accused of such majority-oriented symbolism. The use of discernibly Christian-oriented prayers at Government schools, the non-representation of Hinduism in approved school textbooks, and the lack of emphasis on Hindu religious observace evoked deep resentment from the Hindu community. Intensified protests over the course of the 1980s led to an improvement in the state's attitudes towards Hindus. The divergence of some of the fundamental aspects of local Hindu culture, the segregation of the Hindu community from Trinidad, and the disinclination to risk erasing the more fundamental aspects of what had been constructed as "Trinidad Hinduism" in which the identity of the group had been rooted, would often generate dissension when certain dimensions of Hindu culture came into contact with the State. While the incongruences continue to generate debate, and often conflict, it is now tempered with growing awareness and consideration on the part of the state to the Hindu minority. Hindus have been also been subjected to persistent proselytization by Christian missionariess, pecifically the evangelical and Pentecostal Christians. Such activities reflect racial tensions that at times arise between the Christianized Afro-Trinidadian and Hindu Indo-Trinidadian communities.

As in Guyana, caste distinctions are all but forgotten among Trinidadian Hindus. In the plantation housing, it was not possible to maintain extended households even if the kin were available. Considerations of caste became less important in choosing a spouse largely because there were so few women among the East Indian indentured workers.

The major Hindu organisation in Trinidad and Tobago is the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha led by Satnarayan Maharaj. The Hindu festivals of Divali and Phagwah are widely celebrated in Trinidad.

V.S. Naipaul is one of the most famous Trinidadian Hindus.

See also


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