Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean that encompasses an area of 2,040 square km and has a population of 1,262,132 people.
Hinduism is the largest religion in Mauritius, making it the only African country with a Hindu majority. Hindus account for 51.9% of the country's population, while Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists account for 31.4%, 15.3%, and 0.4%, respectively. Other religions and non-religious individuals make up 0.7% and 0.1% of the country’s population, respectively.
Most Hindus and Muslims in Mauritius trace their origin to South Asia. Buddhism and some traditional Chinese religions are followed by the Sino-Mauritians. French and Creole Mauritians are mainly Christians.
The Predominant Religion in Mauritius: Hinduism
Hindus initially arrived in Mauritius to work as indentured laborers on the island's colonial plantations. Following the nation's independence, they settled as free citizens of Mauritius. Hindus in Mauritius celebrate several festivals. The most notable festival is Mahasivaratri, which is usually held in February-March, and devotees perform fasts and ceremonies for about 4 to 9 days, following which they worship Lord Shiva on the night of the Mahasivaratri seeking his blessings for future prosperity and well-being.
The Second Largest Religion in Mauritius: Christianity
Most Christians in Mauritius are Roman Catholic (about 83%). Other Christian denominations present in Mauritius include the Church of England, Presbyterian Church, Seventh-Day Adventist, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Christianity was introduced in Mauritius by Dutch colonists, but after their departure in 1710 the religion continued to be encouraged by French colonists. Although French colonists ordered all slaves arriving in Mauritius to be baptized as Roman Catholic, these orders were not strictly carried out. Protestantism was introduced in Mauritius by the British once they gained control over the island and drove out the French during the Napoleonic Wars.
Islam in Mauritius
About 95% of Muslims in Mauritius are Sunni Muslims, and most are descendants of Muslim laborers brought to the island from India by colonists. Accordingly, they share many aspects of their culture with Hindus. A small Shia Muslim community also exists in Mauritius. While some of these Muslims trace their origins to South Asia, others are from East Africa.
Religious Freedom and Tolerance in Mauritius
Mauritius is a religiously diverse nation and the constitution provides for freedom of religion. Citizens have the right to select, practice or change their religion and cannot be discriminated on the basis of religion. The multicultural population of Mauritius celebrates several religious festivals throughout the year.