Indian ethnic groups like Tamils and Telugus were the first Indian to arrive on the island, probably brought by trade with Europeans. Most of them were members of the merchant class and were considerably wealthy. Later, Indians arrived in Mauritius to work as coolies, commonly referred to as indentured laborers in sugarcane fields. They arrived through various modes including slave ships probably of the French. Indentured laborers were Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra. In the late 19th to early 20th century, Chinese men in Mauritius married Indian women due to both a lack of Chinese women and higher numbers of Indian women on the island. The 1921 census in Mauritius counted that Indian women there had a total of 148 children with Chinese men. When the coolie system was abandoned, Indian immigrants had already formed the majority of the population of the island. There were later waves of immigrants to complement them.
Indo-Mauritians have had an impact on Mauritian culture dominating the economic and political faces of the island. Mauritian politics have been historically dominated by the Indo-Mauritian community due to their majority as a whole on the electoral platform. All presidents except Karl Offmann and all prime ministers except for Paul Berenger have been members of the community. Most Hindu celebrations are public holidays. Indian influence is felt in religion, cuisine and arts. Indian influence is also felt on music wherein the island has its own groups of Bhojpuri and Tamil Sega. Indian films are also popular.