Réunionnais of Indian origin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Réunionnais of Indian origin
Total population
Regions with significant populations
St André, St Denis, St Louis
French, Réunion Creole, Tamil
Hinduism, Catholicism, Islam
Related ethnic groups
Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin, Malbars, Zarabes, Tamils, Desi, Indian diaspora in France

Réunionnais of Indian origin are people of Indian origin in Réunion. They form two ethnic groups on the island, Malbars and Zarabes.


Originally brought in as indentured laborers as in Mauritius, they were mostly from South Indian Tamils.[2] The next largest group was from North Indian Hindus, speaking Hindi, Bhojpuri and Gujarati. The smallest group were Muslims (from North, South and West India). There were also latter emigrants, mostly Hindu, traders and businessmen. In Réunion, Indians from South India, often Hindu, are known as Malbars and Muslim Indians from North India are known as Zarabes.


Indo-Réunionnais people have affected the culture of Réunion, bringing Indian foods as well as plants and animals to the island. The Hindus here have mixed with the other races.


Originally brought in as indentured laborers as in Mauritius, they were mostly from South Indian Tamils and Telugus.[2] Tamils in Reunion are gradual awakening and desire to their ancestors' culture, and started studying their language and religions especially from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.[2] They also now wanted to translate their newly acquired civic and political rights into a gradual and increasing participation in local and other elections.

  • Mr Jean-Paul Virapoullé is an example of Tamil Participation in the island's civic and political life. He is currently Mayor of Saint Andre and First Vice President of the General Council of Reunion. There are other examples of this kind, such as those Mr Saminadin Axel Kichenin.
  • Mrs Nadia Ramassam who are respectively Second and Third Vice Presidents of the same General Council.
  • Mrs Denise Nilameyom is Deputy Mayor of Tampon.


Zarabes is the name given to the Muslim community of Réunion. The Muslims migrated to Réunion in mid-nineteenth century. Zarabes are mostly South Asian and specifically from the modern state Gujarat in India.[citation needed]

Demographic factors[edit]

Many are Christians and Hindus, including some who are nominally Christian but include Hindu practises.[3] There is a significant Muslim minority known as Zarabes. Others are Sikh, Baha'i or non-religious. Hare Krishna is also practised in Réunion. They speak Réunion Creole and French. There are a handful of schools where Indian languages such as Tamil may be studied as a third or fourth language.