Hinduism in Canada
|497,000 (2011) |
1.45% of the Canadian Population
|Regions with significant populations|
Canadian English, Canadian French
Hindi • Punjabi • Gujarati • Bengali • Tamil • Marathi • Telugu • Kannada • Indian Languages
Sanskrit and Old Tamil
|Hinduism by country|
Hinduism is a religious group in Canada, which is followed by nearly 1.5% of nation's total population. As of 2011[update], there are nearly 497,000 Canadians of the Hindu faith. Canadian Hindus generally come from one of three groups. The first group is primarily made up of Indian immigrants who began arriving in British Columbia about 110 years ago. Hindus from all over India continue to immigrate today, with the largest Indian ethnic subgroups being Gujaratis and Punjabis. This first wave of immigrants also includes Hindu immigrants who were of Indian descent from nations that were historically under European colonial rule, such as Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and parts of coastal Eastern Africa. The second major group of Hindus immigrated from Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. In the case of Sri Lankan Hindus, their history in Canada goes back to the 1940s, when a few hundred Sri Lankan Tamils migrated to Canada. The 1983 communal riots in Sri Lanka precipitated the mass exodus of Tamils with over 500,000 finding refuge in countries such as Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, France and Switzerland. From then on, Sri Lankan Tamils have been immigrating to Canada in particular around Toronto and Greater Toronto Area. A third group is made up of Canadian converts to the various sects of Hinduism through the efforts of the Hare Krishna movement and their Gurus during the last 50 years. The Toronto district of Scarborough has a particularly high concentration of Hindus, with Hinduism being the dominant religion in several neighbourhoods.
Hindu Population & Demographics
|1971 is partial and based on immigration data, real figure is substantially higher.|
|Year||Percent||Increase in pop. %||Increase in %|
The Hindu Population in Canada according to the 2011 National Household Survey.
|Province||2001 Census||2011 Census|
|Hindus pop||Hindus %|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||400||0.1%||635||0.1%|
|Prince Edward Island||30||0.0%||205||0.1%|
By federal electoral district (2011)
The Hindu Population in Canada by federal electoral district according to the 2011 National Household Survey.
1. Brampton East - 19.5%
2. Scarborough—Rouge Park - 18.6%
3. Markham—Thornhill - 16.8%
4. Scarborough—Guildwood - 16.2%
5. Scarborough North - 14.5%
6. Etobicoke North - 14.4%
7. Scarborough Centre - 13.2%
8. Mississauga—Malton - 12.8%
9. Brampton West - 11.8%
10. Brampton North - 10.9%
1. Winnipeg South - 3.0%
Early Hindus maintained their religious traditions in mostly hostile environment which viewed the so-called colored immigrants as a threat to the British culture and way of life of the time. These male pioneers could not marry brides from India up until the 1930s, and did not have the right to vote in Federal elections until 1947. Religious life was centered around homes and Bhajans organized by community members.
Since the 1960s many westerners attracted by the world view presented in Asian religious systems including Hinduism have converted to Hinduism. Canada was no exception. Many native born Canadians of various ethnicities have converted during the last 50 years through the actions of ISKCON, Arya Samaj and other missionary organizations as well as due to the visits and guidance of Indian Gurus such as Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Sathya Sai Baba, the controversial Rajneesh and others.
Later Immigrant Hindus
Due to the liberalization of Canadian immigration policies many Hindus from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, along with Hindu Indian diasporic communities in Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, and eastern African nations such as Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have arrived in the metropolises of Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver from the 1960s onwards. In last 20 years many Hindus from Nepal have migrated to Canada. It is estimated that approximately 8000 to 10000 Nepalese Hindus are residing in Canada with their main concentration in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal. Canada government has pledged to resettle 6500 Bhutanese refugees of Nepalese ethnicity by 2012.The majority of Bhutanese Nepali are Hindus. By 2014 Lethbridge was home to the largest Bhutanese community in Canada. Nearly 6,600 Bhutanese Nepali, also called Lhotshampa had settled in Canada by the end of 2015, with approximately 1,300 in Lethbridge by August 2016.
These communities have formed over 1000 temple societies across the country that essentially functions community organizations. Some of these associations also have established private schools in Tamil to compete with non-religious and Catholic school boards that most Hindu students go to.
One among the earliest Hindu temples in Canada was established in rural Nova Scotia, in Auld's Cove, near the border to Cape Breton Islands, in 1971. Hindu Sanstha of Nova Scotia was formed by some 25 families living in the area at the time. Lord Krishna is primary deity, and Indian community families from Sydney, Antigonish, New Glasgow, and even Halifax often assemble together to celebrate Hindu festivals. Temple welcomes everyone, people of different faith and culture, to participate in the festivals, in a growing multi-cultural population of the region.
The largest Hindu temple in Canada is BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Toronto . It consists of two separate buildings, one of them being the mandir itself and the other being the Haveli, home to a large Sabha Hall, several religious bookstores, a small prayer room, the country's largest Indo-Canadian museum, a water fountain and a large gymnasium. It is the only Mandir built using Hindu traditions. The temple is built in the traditional Hindu style of Shikharbaddha mandir, which is made accordingly to the principles laid out in Shilpa Shastras, scared Hindu texts that describe the canons of traditionally architecture, and describes how the structure of a shikharbaddha mandir symbolically reflects the body of Purusha, or Cosmic Man. It took $40 million to build and opened in 2007, surpassing Hindu Sabha Temple in nearby Brampton, which held the old record. The entire mandir is 32,000 sq ft (3,000 m2).
According to a survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institute in 2013, 42% of the Canadians had a favorable opinion of Hinduism which increased to 49% in the 2016 survey. When asked—would it be acceptable or unacceptable to you if one of your children were to marry a Hindu—in February 2017, 54% Canadians said that it would be acceptable, as compared to 37% in September 2013.
According to another survey by the Angus Reid Institute, 32% of respondents say that the influence of Hinduism “in Canada and Canadian public life” is growing. However, the study also found that a majority of Canadians (67%) “don’t know anything/understand very little” about Hinduism, while 4% “understand very well”.
Community and Impact
Hindus in Canada are able to create communities that not only follow religious practices but also provide education, counselling, support and outreach services. These communities allow many Hindus from overseas to comfortably adapt when immigrating to Canada. When Hindu institutions and worldviews are not mirrored in the migrated country, it can hinder the process of adaptation through isolation and loss of identity. Racial-ethnic identity development involves identifying with and relating to a specific group and is found to be associated with particular health behaviors and mental health outcomes. Hindu communities enable Hindu immigrants and their descendants to preserve their culture and identity despite their displacement and maintain physical and symbolic links with their source country; especially immigrants who have been exiled and feel uprooted from their national and cultural identity.
Many Hindus do not feel connected to the political centres of Canada, and get little attention from politicians. Deepak Obhrai was the first and only Hindu MP in Canada. Dipika Damerla, is the first, and so far only, person from the Hindu community to become a provincial cabinet minister. Other Hindu politicians are Vim Kochhar (the first Hindu appointed to the Senate), Raj Sherman (the first Hindu to lead a Canadian political party), Bidhu Jha (the first Hindu elected to the Manitoba legislature).
Attack on Hindu Community
- In 2013 a Hindu temple in Surrey had three windows smashed. A baseball bat found there after the attack had Sikh markings.
- In 2018,the Montreal-based production house “Art of Where' advertised yoga-capris carrying images of Hindu deity Lord Ganesh. Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism called this highly inappropriate as it hurts Hindus. He also urged “Art of Where” to offer a formal apology.
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