Little India (location)

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Little India
India Square JC jeh.JPG
India Square in Jersey City, New Jersey, USA, is one of at least 24 Indian American enclaves characterized as a Little India which have emerged within the New York City Metropolitan Area, with the largest metropolitan Indian population outside Asia, as large-scale immigration from India continues into New York.[1][2][3][4]
Hindi name
Hindi प्रवासी भारतीय
Pravāsī Bhāratīya

Little India is an ethnic enclave containing a large population of Indian people within a society where the majority of people are either not South Asians or where the majority in the enclave are indigenous to states in the country of India within a South Asian society not identifying as Indian. It may also refer to an area with a high concentration of South Asian shops and restaurants.


Indian trader's family in Bagamoyo, German East Africa, around 1906/18.

Little Indias across the world represent a diaspora of non-resident Indians (NRI) (Hindi: प्रवासी भारतीय, Pravāsī Bhāratīya) who are citizens of India who holds an Indian passport and has temporarily emigrated to another country for six months or more for employment, residence, education or any other purpose.

A person of Indian origin (PIO) is a person of Indian origin or ancestry who was born or whose ancestors were born in India or nations with Indian ancestry but is not a citizen of India and is the citizen of another country. A PIO might have been a citizen of India and subsequently taken the citizenship of another country.

Other terms with vaguely the same meaning are overseas Indian and expatriate Indian. In common usage, this often includes Indian-born individuals (and also people of other nations with Indian ancestry) who have taken the citizenship of other countries.

According to the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, India is the source of the second largest diaspora in the world after overseas Chinese. The overseas Indian community estimated at over 25 million is spread across every major region in the world.[5][6]

The most significant historical emigration from India was that of the Romani people, traditionally known by the term "Gypsies".[7] Linguistic and genetic evidence indicates the Romani originated from the Indian subcontinent, emigrating from India towards the northwest no earlier than the 11th century. The Romani are generally believed to have originated in central India, possibly in the modern Indian state of Rajasthan, migrating to northwest India (the Punjab region) around 250 B.C.

Another major emigration from the subcontinent was to Southeast Asia. There is possibility that the first wave of Indians migration towards Southeast Asia happened when the Asoka's invasion towards Kalinga and Samudragupta's expedition towards the South.[8] It followed by early interaction of Indian traders and, after mid-first millennium A.D., by some import of members of the Brahmin social caste. This resulted in the establishment of the so-called Indianized kingdoms in Southeast Asia. The Tamil Cholas, who were known for their naval power, conquered Sumatra and Malay Peninsula. The influence of Tamil culture is still strongly felt in Southeast Asia, for example with the royal Brahmins of Thailand (rajkru), or especially in Bali (in Indonesia). In such cases, it is not reasonable to apply the label 'PIO' to the descendants of emigrants from several centuries back. Intermixture has been so great as to negate the value of such nomenclature in this context.

After the 1970s oil boom in the Middle East, numerous Indians emigrated to work in the Gulf countries. With modern transportation and expectations, this was on a contractual basis rather than permanent as in the 19th century cases. These Gulf countries have a common policy of not naturalizing non-Arabs, even if they are born there.

The 1990s IT boom and rising economy in the USA attracted numerous Indians who emigrated to the United States of America. Today, the USA has the third largest number of Indians. Also, as per UNESCO Institute for Statistics the number of Indian students abroad tripled from 51,000 in 1999 to over 153,000 in 2007, making India second after China among the world’s largest sending countries for tertiary students.


Indian cuisine[edit]

Pesarattu, a popular Andhra dish, served with kobbari pachadi (chutney made using coconut)
Main article: Indian cuisine

Most Little Indias are known for their Indian cuisines, which encompass foods from a wide variety of regional cuisines native to India. Given the range of diversity in soil type, climate and occupations, these cuisines vary significantly from each other and use locally available spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits. Indian food is also heavily influenced by religious and cultural choices and traditions.

The development of these cuisines have been shaped by Dharmic beliefs, and in particular by vegetarianism, which is a growing dietary trend in Indian society.[9] There has also been Central Asian influence on North Indian cuisine from the years of Mughal rule.[10] Indian cuisine has been and is still evolving, as a result of the nation's cultural interactions with other societies.[11][12]

Historical incidents such as foreign invasions, trade relations and colonialism have also played a role in introducing certain foods to the country. For instance, potato, a staple of Indian diet was brought to India by the Portuguese, who also introduced chillies and breadfruit.[13] Indian cuisine has also shaped the history of international relations; the spice trade between India and Europe is often cited by historians as the primary catalyst for Europe's Age of Discovery.[14] Spices were bought from India and traded around Europe and Asia. It has also influenced other cuisines across the world, especially those from Southeast Asia, the British Isles and the Caribbean.[15][16]

Hindi language[edit]

Main article: Hindi

Many Little Indias employ signage that can sometimes be seen in written Hindi. As with many Asian languages, different dialects of Hindi can often be heard even within one established Little India. Hindi (हिन्दी), or more precisely "Modern Standard Hindi" (मानक हिन्दी), is a standardised and Sanskritised register of the Hindustani language. Hindustani is the native language of people living in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan.[17] Hindi is one of the official languages of India.

Standard Hindi is mutually intelligible with the other standardized register of Hindustani, Urdu, which is associated with the North Indian Muslim community.[citation needed] The two standards are nearly identical in structure and grammar. Mutual intelligibility decreases in literary and specialised contexts, which rely on educated vocabulary drawn from different sources; Hindi drawing its specialised vocabulary from Sanskrit, whilst Urdu does so from Persian and Arabic. In their colloquial forms, the two varieties are nearly indistinguishable.

Placards such as this one were placed above street signs at the district's official naming ceremony on January 16, 2010.

People who identify as native speakers of "Hindi" include not only Hindu speakers of Hindustani, but also many speakers of related languages who consider their speech to be a dialect of Hindi. In the 2001 Indian census, 258 million (25,80,00,000) people in India reported Hindi to be their native language;[18] as of 2009, the best figure Ethnologue could find for speakers of actual Hindustani Hindi (effectively the Khariboli dialect less Urdu) was a figure of 180 million in 1991. This makes Hindi approximately the sixth-most-widely spoken in the world.

Only a few Little Indias in the world have actually received official recognition in the form of a name in the local language, as with the Mahatma Gandhi District in Houston, official only since 2010.

Hinduism and Hindu festivals[edit]

A Balmiki Ashram

Many Little Indias are evidenced by the presence of Hindu festivals, such as Diwali and Holi and the presence of Hinduism as practiced in the country of India itself, where it is the dominant religion[note 1] of the Indian subcontinent, particularly of India and Nepal, which consists of many diverse traditions. It includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism[20] among numerous other traditions, and a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of "daily morality" based on karma, dharma, and societal norms. Hinduism is a categorisation of distinct intellectual or philosophical points of view, rather than a rigid, common set of beliefs.[21]

Hinduism has been called the "oldest religion" in the world,[note 2] and many practitioners refer to Hinduism as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal law" or the "eternal way"[31] beyond human origins.[31] It prescribes the "eternal" duties all Hindus have to follow, regardless of class, caste, or sect, such as honesty, purity, and self-restraint.[web 1]

Western scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion[32][note 3] or synthesis[33][note 4][34] of various Indian cultures and traditions,[33][35][32][note 5] with diverse roots[36] and no single founder.[37] Among its roots are the Vedic religion[35] of the late Vedic period and its emphasis on the status of Brahmans,[38] but also the religions of the Indus Valley Civilisation,[36][39][40][41] the Sramana[42] or renouncer traditions[35] of north-east India,[42] and "popular or local traditions".[35] This "Hindu synthesis" emerged around the beginning of the Common Era,[33][43][note 9] and co-existed for several centuries with Buddhism,[49] to finally gain the upper hand in most royal circles during the 8th century CE.[50][note 10][web 2][note 11]

From northern India this "Hindu synthesis", and its societal divisions, spread to southern India and parts of Southeast Asia.[51][note 12][52][note 13][53][note 14] It was aided by the settlement of Brahmins on land granted by local rulers,[54][55] the incorporation and assimilation of popular non-Vedic gods, [56][note 15] and the process of Sanskritisation, in which "people from many strata of society throughout the subcontinent tended to adapt their religious and social life to Brahmanic norms". [note 16][57]


Non-resident Indian and person of Indian origin
Flag of India.svg
Flag of India.
A bar chart showing the distribution of Overseas Indians.
Total population
Est. 25,000,000[5][58]
Regions with significant populations
   Nepal 4,000,000
 Burma 3,900,000
 United States 2,843,391
 Malaysia 2,450,000
 Saudi Arabia 1,789,000
 United Arab Emirates 1,750,000
 Sri Lanka 1,601,600
 United Kingdom 1,500,000
 South Africa 1,218,000
 Canada 1,165,145
 Mauritius 882,220
 Oman 718,642
 Singapore 670,000
 Kuwait 579,390
 Trinidad and Tobago 551,500
 Qatar 500,000
 France (Réunion, French West Indies and Guiana Island) 450,000
 Australia 390,000
 Bahrain 350,000
 Guyana 320,200
 Fiji 313,798
 Netherlands 215,000
 Thailand 150,000
 Suriname 140,300
 Italy 120,000
 Yemen 111,000
 New Zealand 110,000
 Kenya 100,000
 Tanzania 92,000
 Portugal 80,000
 Israel 78,000
Indian languages · Local languages · English (for NRIs)
Hinduism · Islam · Christianity · Sikhism · Jainism · Buddhism · Zoroastrianism · Atheism · Agnosticism
Related ethnic groups
Indian people



South Africa[edit]









Saudi Arabia[edit]



United Arab Emirates[edit]

In the UAE, Indians constitute more than 45% of the population. Here are some areas with a comparatively larger concentration of Indians.




  • Frankfurt, on the corner of Münchner and Weser street.


The Netherlands[edit]

  • The Hague, Paul Krügerlaan, Transvaal (shopping street)

United Kingdom[edit]

North America[edit]


British Columbia[edit]

Trinidad and Tobago[79][80][81][edit]

United States[edit]

Chicago's Little India on Devon Avenue
New Jersey[edit]
New York[edit]
North Carolina[edit]



New South Wales[edit]
South Australia[edit]


New Zealand[edit]

South America[edit]





  1. ^ Hinduism is variously defined as a "religion", "set of religious beliefs and practices", "religious tradition" etc. For a discussion on the topic, see: "Establishing the boundaries" in Gavin Flood 2008 (2003), pp. 1-17.[19]
  2. ^ See:
    • "Oldest religion":
      • Fowler: "probably the oldest religion in the world"[22]
      • Gellman & Hartman: "Hinduism, the world's oldest religion"[23]
      • Stevens: "Hinduism, the oldest religion in the world",[24]
    • The "oldest living religion"[25]
    • The "oldest living major religion" in the world.[26][27]
      • Laderman: "world's oldest living civilisation and religion"[28]
      • Turner: "It is also recognized as the oldest major religion in the world"[29]
    Smart, on the other hand, calls it also one of the youngest religions: "Hinduism could be seen to be much more recent, though with various ancient roots: in a sense it was formed in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century."[30] See also:
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference Lockard was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Cite error: The named reference Hiltebeitel-synthesis was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference fusion was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ Between 500[33]-200[43] BCE and c. 300 CE,[33] at the beginning of the "Epic and Puranic" c.q. "Preclassical" period.
  7. ^ The date of the production of the written texts does not define the date of origin of the Puranas;[48] they may have existed in some oral form before being written down.[48]
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference Michaels-legacy was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ After the Vedic period, around the beginning of the Common Era,[note 6] the "Hindu synthesis" emerged,[33][43] which incorporated shramanic[43][44] and Buddhist influences[43][45] and the emerging bhakti tradition into the Brahmanical fold.[46]

    During the Gupta reign the first Puranas were written,[47][note 7] which were used to disseminate "mainstream religious ideology amongst pre-literate and tribal groups undergoing acculturation."[47] The resulting Puranic Hinduism differed markedly from the earlier Brahmanism of the Dharmasastras and the smritis.[47][note 8]
  10. ^ Cite error: The named reference Inden was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  11. ^ Cite error: The named reference Mahadana was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  12. ^ Cite error: The named reference Samuel-northsouth was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  13. ^ Cite error: The named reference Larson-NorthSouth was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  14. ^ Cite error: The named reference Flood-NorthSouth was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  15. ^ Cite error: The named reference pantheon_explosion was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  16. ^ Cite error: The named reference Sanskritization was invoked but never defined (see the help page).


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External links[edit]