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People of Indian Origin

Indo-Mauritians are people of Indian descent living on the island of Mauritius, where they represent a majority comprising 68% of the population according to the July 2007 statistics.[1] There is also a significant migrant population of Bhumihar Brahmins in Mauritius who have made a mark for themselves in different fields. A majority of them are no more in touch with their family members in India since the 1800s although there are some rare instances of marital relations between Indians and Indo Mauritians, aimed at keeping their cultural identity intact.[2] There are also a large number of Koery agriculturists who have made a mark for themselves in every filed in Mauritious being either from eastern UP or Bihar originally. A majority of Indo-Mauritians are of Bihari descent (among the Hindus: Brahmin, Rajput, Kurmi, Bhumihar, Yadav, Banias, and Kayastha castes are well represented).[3] However, a significant proportion came from other parts of the subcontinent.

The Coolie Trade[edit]

Commonly referred to as indentured labourers, the term "coolie" is now considered to be offensive, as these Indians arrived at the immigration depot as "coolies" along with many smaller groups of peoples from Yemen, Mozambique, and Madagascar, mainly to work the sugarcane fields. They arrived on the same slave ships previously used to bring slaves from Africa to the East and West Indies, and faced harsh treatments in some cases. Dates of the first Indians differ, as Le Morne Heritage site acknowledges: remains of runaway Indian, Madagascan, and African slaves hid in the mountains and their materials and ingredients have been documented.

Coolie indentured labourers would work under a leader known as "Sardaar", They were mostly from the Bihar depots from Bhojpuri-speaking areas (including both Hindus and Muslims) but to a much lesser extent from regions such as Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bombay. Some ethnic groups including Tamils and Telugus came some decades before, probably brought by the French. Those people however were no slaves. Many of them were members of the merchant class while some were land owners. Therefore they were considerably wealthy and as such had the means and resources to incorporate Indian culture and religion in Mauritius.

Later immigrants[edit]

After having abandoned the Indentured labourer system in Mauritius, Indian immigrants had already formed the majority of the population of the island, but there were later waves of immigrants to complement them. These immigrants came from all over India, with most being Hindus. [Indian natives came during the French period (i.e. a century before the British) for the construction of the city of Port-Louis and construction of churches, mosques mandirams and kovils. They are known to be the first people to bring Hinduism on the island.

Since the early 1900s, doctors, businessmen, lawyers, scientists, people in the IT sector, traders and their families began arriving in Mauritius. The later waves came from various regions of India, with significant numbers from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Bengal, Gujarat, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi. These people have greatly contributed to Mauritius' economy and knowledge.

Demographics and Indo-Mauritians today[edit]

Today the population can be broken down into three main groups: Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Of the entire Indo-Mauritian population, North Indian Hindus compose 52%, South Indian Hindus another quarter, and the Muslims (from any part of India) forming most of the remaining population. There are 19% Maharashtrian population mostly Maratha's in 4th generation now. There are also new minorities, such as Indian Sikhs, Hare Krishnas (became popular throughout the 1970s where some Mauritians converted) and non-religious. A small and unspecified population are also followers of the Bahá'í Faith. There is also a small Buddhist population.

Some Hindus tend to follow the Indian Caste system, though, because of their relatively small population and their disconnection with India, the system has become less complex and in some cases completely overlooked.

There are many temples built by Federation of Marathi Mandli like Ganesh, Shankar, Alandi etc.There is a Sikh Gurudwara in Port Louis, named Sri Guru Singh Sabha. It is the only major Gurudwara in Mauritius, this was built for the recent labourers brought into Mauritius. Most Sikhs outside Port Louis pray at home. Several Mosques and Temples also exist throughout the island. Indian decent-dominated churches are mostly based in southern Mauritius.

Indo-Mauritians exist in Rodrigues, locally known as Indo-Rodriguans. The population on the main island has increased by the arrival of the Chagossians of Indian origin, although they are classed as "other" under the national census.

Almost all Indo-Mauritians speak Creole. However some groups will consider Hindi, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil or Telugu to be their mother tongue. Out of the whole population, less than 0.6% of Indo-Mauritians choose not to not speak Creole. However, because most Mauritians are multilingual, most of the Indo-Mauritians speak both Creole and at least one (if not more) Indian Language, plus English and French.

All Mauritians groups including Indo-Mauritians have had an impact on Mauritian life dominating the economic and political faces of the island. Most Hindu celebrations are public holidays. Mauritian food with Indian origin are enjoyed by most of the people, with Alouda, Dhol Puri, Carri (curry) being some of the most well-known dishes and are shared national dishes owned by no religion or ethnic group. Indian influenced music is also strong. The island has its own groups of Bhojpuri and Tamil Sega singers and this 'style' is becoming as popular as the traditional Sega. Indian Bollywood music is one of the most popular genres of music in Mauritius.

Prominent Indo-Mauritians
Indo-Mauritian Birth year Death year Description
Dookhee Gungah 1867 1944 Philanthropist, social worker, benevolent entrepreneur, pioneer of free education in Mauritius
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam 1900 1985 First Prime Minister and one of the three founding fathers of Independent Mauritius
Sookdeo Bissoondoyal 1908 1977 Politician and one of the three founding fathers of independent Mauritius.
Sir Anerood Jugnauth 1930 Living President of Mauritius.
Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay 1945 Living Chief justice.
Navin Ramgoolam 1947 Living Current Prime Minister of Mauritius.
Sir Abdool Razack Mohamed 1906 1978 Born in Calcutta, Deputy Prime Minister, Mayor of Port-Louis
Mr Kaleswarao Saccaram(Sakharam) Living Member of the legislative Assembly under the banner of the Labour Party in 1976, served as Minister for Employment and Internal Communications up to 1982.
Honourable Suresh Moorba Living first lawyer from the Marathi Community, was appointed Minister of Information (1980-1982)
Babooram Mahadoo Living served as Minister for Local Government From 1983 to 1987 Honourable . Also From 1992 to 1995, he served as High Commissioner of Mauritius in UK .
Alan Ganoo Living In 1982 elected under the banner of the Movement Militant Mauricien, became the first Maratha who was appointed Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. From 2000 to 2005 Honourable Alan Ganoo served as Ministry of Public Utilities
Honourable Sheilabai Bappoo Living From 1983 to 1995 Honourable Sheilabai Bappoo served in many Ministries especially as Minister of Women’s Rights and Minister of Labour. From 2000 to date she served as Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare and currently as Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare. She is the Honorary President of the Mauritius Marathi Mandali Federation.


Football is the most popular sport amongst Mauritians. Vikash Dhorasoo, born in Harfleur near Le Havre in Normandy, is of Indo-Mauritian origin, his family originally hailing from the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. He was selected for the French squad at the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, but only saw limited playing time during the tournament becoming the second person of Indian origin to be in the World Cup (Aron Winter being the first).

Popular culture[edit]

Indo-Mauritian family life was portrayed in 2005 Hindi film Dil Jo Bhi Kahey with Amitabh Bachchan in lead role.

In the 2008 Far Cry 2 video game, one of the playable characters is Indo-Mauritian.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ CIA - The World Factbook -- Mauritius Retrieved 2 May 2007
  2. ^ Thapan (ed.), Meenakshi (2005). Transnational Migration and the Politics of Identity. SAGE. p. 320. ISBN 978-0-7619-3425-7. 
  3. ^