Hinduism in South Africa

Hinduism is practised throughout South Africa, but primarily in KwaZulu-Natal. Approximately 1.1% of the South African population professed to be Hindu, according to the 2011 census.[1] This is down from the 1.4% based on the 1996 census. The 2016 General Household Survey measured a further decline to 0.9%.[2]

South African Hindus
Clairwood Shree Siva Temple, Durban
Total population
569,476 (2011)
1.1% of the total Population
Religions
Hinduism
Scriptures
Bhagavad Gita and Vedas
Languages
Sacred
Sanskrit, Old Tamil

Regional
English and Zulu and Afrikaans

Others
Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Bengali, Awadhi, Bhojpuri (Naitali), etc. (among diaspora)
A Hindu Temple in Durban, South Africa.

Nevertheless, the population has been increasing in absolute terms from 551,669 in 2001 to 569,476 in 2011, and by this measure, South Africa has the largest concentration of Hindus in Africa after Mauritius.

Year Percent Increase
1994 1.4% -
2001 1.22% -0.18%
2011 1.1% -0.12%
2013* 1.0% -0.1%
2016* 0.9% -0.1%

*The figures for 2013 and 2016 are not official census data.

The majority of Hindus in South Africa are Indian South Africans, largely descendants of indentured laborers who migrated under the British colonial government, from 1860 to 1919, to work in plantations and the mining operations owned by European settlers.[3] Many came from Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states of India. Because of their Indian descent, Hindu settlers in South Africa suffered discrimination, abuse and persecution[4][5][6] during the colonial and Apartheid eras.

The first Hindu temples were in operation in the 1870s. Some South African local governments banned temple building and property ownership by Hindus in 1910s.[7] Modern South Africa has many Hindu temples, and its Hindu community observes major festivals of Hinduism such as Deepavali.[8]


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