Religions of Mauritius

For such a small country, the people in Mauritius practice faith in many ways.

Considering its diverse history, this makes sense: each culture brought its own religious traditions to the island, from Christianity to Islam to Hinduism.

The Dutch first introduced Christianity to Mauritius in the 17th century. When the French came in the 18th century, they built churches and baptized many slaves on the island. Today, about 30% of all Mauritians are Christian.

Islam came to the island with indentured laborers from northern and western India in the 19th century. Now, roughly 16% of Mauritians are Muslim, and the call to prayer can be heard echoing across the city streets and sugarcane fields five times a day on the island. For me, it’s a beautiful reminder of devotion.

Laborers from northern India, and from the region of Tamil Nadu in southern India, brought Hinduism to Mauritius. Today, about 50% of the population practices Hinduism, making Mauritius the only African country with Hinduism as its main religion.

Brightly colored Hindu temples can be found throughout the countryside and the cities, creating a striking image against the blue sky and rolling green landscape.

Most of the temples I explored were practically empty. I learned that it’s not mandatory for Hindus to pray at a temple, and most Hindu homes have small shrines called “puja rooms” for daily prayers.

Every day that I am in Mauritius, I lay eyes on at least one mosque, one church, and one Hindu temple. I’ve been welcomed at each and am hopeful by Mauritians acceptance of different religious beliefs. This acceptance is not always the case in other part of the world.

Kat