Hinduism in the West Indies
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Hinduism is the leading single religion of the Indo-Caribbean communities of the West Indies. Hindus are particularly well represented in Guyana, Suriname and 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 Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Martinique and Guadeloupe.
- 1 Anguilla
- 2 Antigua and Barbuda
- 3 Barbados
- 4 Bahamas
- 5 Bermuda
- 6 Cayman Islands
- 7 Dominican Republic
- 8 Grenada
- 9 Jamaica
- 10 Montserrat
- 11 Netherlands Antilles
- 12 Puerto Rico
- 13 St. Lucia
- 14 St. Kitts-Nevis
- 15 St. Vincent-Grenadines
- 16 US Virgin Islands
- 17 Trinidad and Tobago
- 18 Hindu populations according to the latest Census
- 19 See also
- 20 References
The total Hindu population of Anguilla is 58 as of the 2011 Census. This represents 0.42% of the population, is an increase of 13 from the previous count of 45, taken from the 2001 Census. Virtually all are recent immigrants from India.
Antigua and Barbuda
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 religions of Barbados.
According to the 2010 Census, there were a total of 428 Hindus living in Bahamas, making up 0.12% of the total population.
Hinduism is probably the smallest religion in Cayman Islands. There were just 98 Hindus in Caymans according to 2000 census (Accounting for 50% of the population).
Hinduism is a fast-growing religion in the Dominican Republic, showing (along with Buddhism) a large number of yearly adherents.
According to the 2000 census there were 156 Hindus in Grenada making 0.15% of the total population. National Census Report 2001
Jamaica was once home to 25,000 Hindus (till the mid 20th century). However, most of them converted to Christianity. In the last few decades, the population of Hindus in Jamaica decreased steeply. In the 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.
According to the 2001 census there were 31 Hindus in Montserrat, accounting for 0.8% of the total population and forming the 4th largest religious entity.
As of 2006, there were 3,482 Hindus in Puerto Rico making 0.09% of the population according to Religious Intelligence.
Most of the Indo-St. Lucian 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.
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.
The 2000 census reported 83 Hindus in St.V-G making up 0.08% of the total population.
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.
Trinidad and Tobago
A decade after slavery was abolished in 1834, the British government gave permission for the colonists 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. In the 2011 census, There are 240,100 declared Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago (decline of 4.3 per cent)
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, specifically 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.
V.S. Naipaul is one of the most famous Trinidadian Hindus.
Hindu populations according to the latest Census
- Trinidad and Tobago: 240,100 or 18.2% (Census of 2011)
- Guyana: 213,282 or 28.4% (Census of 2002)
- Jamaica: 1,453 (Census of 2000)
- Barbados: 840 or 0.34% (Census of 2000)
- Cayman Islands: 454 (Census of 2010)
- Bahamas: 428 or 0.12% (Census of 2010)
- Anguilla: 45 (Census of 2001)
- St Lucia: 500 or 0.3% (Census of 2010)
- Grenada: 156 (Census of 2001)
- St Kitts: 371 or 0.80% (Census of 2001)
- St Vincent: 83 or 0.08% (Census of 2001)
- Montserrat: 31 or 0.8% (Census of 2001)
- Ethnic groups of Antigua and Barbuda
- Singh, Sherry-Ann, Hinduism and the State in Trinidad, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Volume 6, Number 3, September 2005, pp. 353-365(13)
- Trinidad and Tobago International Religious Freedom Report 2002. U.S. Department of State. Accessed 2008-05-18.
- This article contains public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies on Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana (1995).