Hinduism in Mauritius

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Little India is a rich historical and ethnographic examination of a fascinating example of linguistic plurality on the island of Mauritius, where more than two-thirds of the population is of Indian ancestry. Patrick Eisenlohr's groundbreaking study focuses on the formation of diaspora as mediated through the cultural phenomenon of Indian ancestral languages—principally Hindi, which is used primarily in religious contexts. Eisenlohr emphasizes the variety of cultural practices that construct and transform boundaries in communities in diaspora and illustrates different modes of experiencing the temporal relationships between diaspora and homeland.
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Les hindouismes hors de l’Inde posent un défi à l’observateur : comment cette religion perçue comme consubstantielle au territoire indien peut-elle s’exporter, s’adapter et s’enraciner loin de sa « terre-Mère » ? L’expérience particulière de l’île Maurice, une société créole dont la majorité de la population se reconnaît comme hindoue, offre un cas d’étude idéal pour une analyse historiquement contextualisée d’un hindouisme créole. Cet ouvrage est une étude d’anthropologie religieuse sur l’hindouisme mauricien, fondée sur une enquête ethnographique approfondie. L’auteur prend soin d’intégrer à l’étude de l’hindouisme local l’histoire de l’engagisme et de la société de plantation, les phénomènes de créolisation, mais aussi le contexte national multiconfessionnel. L’hindouisme mauricien est envisagé en tant que configuration (sociale, religieuse) singulière et valant pour elle-même, ni réplique, ni dérive ou sous-produit d’un « authentique hindouisme indien ». Il s’agit de comprendre les conditions de l’implantation de l’hindouisme à Maurice. Quels sont les milieux socioculturels, castes et pratiques religieuses des engagés ? Quelle a été l’influence de la rupture avec l’Inde sur ces pratiques religieuses ? Quels sont les enjeux actuels qui se cachent derrière la reconstruction de l’hindouisme à Maurice ? En dépit de son évolution rapide tournée vers l’Inde, c’est bien un hindouisme avant tout créole et mauricien qui se dessine, soulignant l’héritage du système de plantation dans les lieux de culte, dans les pratiques et représentations religieuses locales.
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Mauritius has been an independent nation since 1968. It was founded on the history and structures of a plantation society and is mainly inhabited by descendants of Indian (and Hindu) indentured labourers. The question of the caste system’s ‘transfer’ or disappearance among Hindu Mauritians is both locally taboo and crucial to our understanding of Mauritian realities, taking us deep inside the local interactions between Creoleness and Indianness. A survey conducted among older generations of Indian labourers having lived (and still living) in plantation camps overturns the common perception that the caste system among Hindu Mauritians has disappeared, or lost its ideological relevance.
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Religions that are involved in processes of migration face a double challenge: they need to adapt to the new environment due to the different socio-cultural and legal setting; at the same time, a faithful maintenance of ritual practice, religious concepts, worldview, and norms is a prerequisite for the continuation of the very tradition, warding off assimilation. Recent scholarship in social and cultural studies subsumed these processes under the newly 'discovered' term of diaspora. This article employs the term to analyse aspects of religious dynamics caused by constraints of living home away from home. We adopt the neologism “templeisation” introduced by Vasudha Narayanan studying Hindu immigrants from India in the USA, in order to scrutinise incipient changes among Hindu Tamils from Sri Lanka in continental Europe. Templeisation points to a decisive shift of religious observance and ritual practice from the home to the temple, accompanied by a shift in authority away from women and mothers to men and priests. Are these shifts also observable for the Tamil Hindu diaspora in Germany and Switzerland?
Indianité et créolité à l’île Maurice. Editions de l’EHESS (coll
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Gokoola. Family, temple and village
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