Hinduism in Trinidad and Tobago

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Hindu Trinidadian and Tobagonian
Om symbol.svg
Total population
240,100 (2011)
18.2% of the Trinidad and Tobago Population
Regions with significant populations
Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Canada, United Kingdom
Religions
Hinduism
Languages
Sanskrit (liturgical language· English · Hindi · Hinglish · other Indian Languages
Karyasiddhi Hanuman statue at the Dattatreya Mandir in Orange Field Village, Carapichaima, Caroni County, Couva–Tabaquite–Talparo, Trinidad and Tobago
Mosquito Creek Cremation Ground (South Oropouche)

Hinduism is the second largest religion in Trinidad and Tobago. Hindu culture arrived in 1845 in Trinidad and Tobago.[1] According to the 2011 census there were 240,100 declared Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago. There are also various temples in Trinidad and Tobago to accommodate Hindus.

History[edit]

Mandir near Port of Spain, 1945

A decade after slavery was abolished in 1834, the British government gave permission for the colonists to import indentured labor from India to work on the estates. Throughout the remainder of the century, Trinidad's population growth came primarily from Indian laborers. By 1871, there were 27,425 Indians, approximately 22 percent of the population of Trinidad and Tobago; by 1911 that figure had grown to 110,911, or about 33 percent of all residents of the islands.

During the initial decades of Indian indenture, Indian cultural forms were met with either contempt or indifference by the non-Hindu majority.[2] Hindus have made many contributions to Trinidad history and culture even though the state historically regarded Hindus as second class citizens. Hindus in Trinidad struggled over the granting of adult franchise, the Hindu marriage bill, the divorce bill, cremation ordinance, and others.[2] Cremation was allowed in 1953.[3]

There has been persistent discontent among the Hindus with their marginalization. Many groups portray Hindus as "clannish, backward and miserly". During the General Elections of 1986, the absence of the Bhagvad Gita and the Quran at polling stations for required oath-taking was interpreted as a gross insult to Hindus and Muslims. The absence of any Hindu religious texts at the official residence of the President of Trinidad and Tobago during the swearing in of the new Government in 1986 was perceived as another insult to the minority communities since they were represented in the government. The national education system and curriculum have been repeatedly accused of such majority-oriented symbolism. The use of discernibly oriented prayers at Government schools, the non-representation of Hinduism in approved school textbooks, and the lack of emphasis on Hindu religious observance evoked deep resentment from the Hindu community. Intensified protests over the course of the 1980s led to an improvement in the state's attitudes towards Hindus.[2]

The divergence of some of the fundamental aspects of local Hindu culture, the segregation of the Hindu community from Trinidad, and the disinclination to risk erasing the more fundamental aspects of what had been constructed as "Trinidad Hinduism" in which the identity of the group had been rooted, would often generate dissension when certain dimensions of Hindu culture came into contact with the State. While the incongruousness continue to generate debate, and often conflict, it is now tempered with growing awareness and consideration on the part of the state to the Hindu minority.[2] Hindus have been also been subjected to conversions by Christian missionaries, specifically the evangelical and Pentecostal Christians. Such activities reflect racial tensions that at times arise between the Afro-Trinidadian and Indo-Trinidadian communities.[4]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
YearPop.±%
1990 292,786—    
2000 285,517−2.5%
2011 240,100−15.9%
Year Percent Decrease
1962 23.8 -
2000 22.5% -1.03%
2011 18.2% -4.3%

As per the 2011 Census, there were 240,100 Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago. Out of this, 232,104 were Indian, 2,738 were Dougla (mixed African/Indian), 2,466 were Mixed/Other, 1,887 Unknown ethnicity, 346 African, 175 Chinese, 27 European, 302 Indigenous Amerindian, 46 Other, and 8 Portuguese. Talking about the proportion within the ethnic groups, 49.54% of the East Indians and 21.66% of the Indigenous were Hindu. So were 4.37% of the Chinese, 2.70% of Douglas (mixed African/East Indian), 1.23% of the Mixed/Other and 0.08% of the Africans.[5]

Hindu population according to the administrative division is as follows: Port of Spain- 1.45%, San Fernando- 10.70%, Arima- 4.39%, Chaguanas- 30.04%, Point Fortin- 3.87%, Couva- 31.26%, Diego Martin- 1.83%, Mayaro- 22.46%, Penal- 42.98%, Princes Town- 26.99%, San Juan- 8.35%, Sangre Grande- 15.41%, Siparia-23.37%, Tunapuna- 14.07%, and Tobago- 0.67%.[5]

Sects, Denominations, and Organizations[edit]

[6][7]

Culture[edit]

Mandirs[edit]

Hindu Organizations and Holidays[edit]

Divali Nagar in Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago.

The major Hindu organisation in Trinidad and Tobago is the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha founded by Bhadase Sagan Maraj, and formerly led by his son-in-law Secretary General Satnarayan Maharaj, is led by his grandson, Secretary General Vijay Maharaj. The Hindu festival of Diwali is a public holidays in Trinidad and Tobago, and along with Phagwah, it is widely celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago by people of all races, ethnicities, cultures, and religions. Others Hindu festivas such as: Ram Navami, Sita Navami, Vivaha Panchami, Maha Shivaratri, Navaratri, Chhath Puja, Krishna Janmaashtami, Radhastami, Dussehra, Kartik Purnima, Guru Purnima, Vat Pournima, Tulsi Vivah, Makar Sankranti, Ahoi Ashtami, Pitru Paksha, Hanuman Jayanti, Ganesh Chaturthi, Raksha Bandhan, Gandhi Jayanti, Vasant Panchami, and Mesha Sankranti are also celebrated.

Caste[edit]

As in other parts of the Caribbean, South Africa, Fiji, and Mauritius, caste distinctions are all but forgotten among Trinidadian Hindus. Considerations of caste became less important in choosing a spouse largely because there were so few women among the Indian indentured workers.

Cremation[edit]

Cremation is permitted at five cremation sites in Mafeking (Mayaro-Rio Claro), South Oropouche (Siparia), Waterloo (Couva-Tabaquite-Talparo), Felicity (Chaguanas) and Caroni (Tunapuna-Piarco).

Famous Trinidadian Hindus[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Latin American Herald Tribune - Trinidad and Tobago Marks 170 Years Since 1st East Indian Arrivals". www.laht.com. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
  2. ^ a b c d Singh, Sherry-Ann, Hinduism and the State in Trinidad, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Volume 6, Number 3, September 2005, pp. 353-365(13)
  3. ^ "Cremation act" (PDF). Ministry of Legal Affairs. Retrieved 2016-12-30.
  4. ^ Trinidad and Tobago International Religious Freedom Report 2002. U.S. Department of State. Accessed 2008-05-18.
  5. ^ a b https://web.archive.org/web/20171019211618/https://guardian.co.tt/sites/default/files/story/2011_DemographicReport.pdf
  6. ^ http://library2.nalis.gov.tt/gsdl/collect/news3/index/assoc/HASH52ed.dir/doc.pdf
  7. ^ https://indocaribbeanpublications.com/2010/11/21/divali-festival-souvenir-magazine-2010/
  8. ^ The Injustice System: A Murder in Miami and a Trial Gone Wrong. 2013. ISBN 9780143124160.