Since the Indian population is the largest
ethnic group in Mauritius, Hinduism is the most widely practised
religion. There are more than 150 Hindu temples on the island and
several Hindu sects. The most prominent sect is the Sanathanists,
who worship a threefold deity: the Creator Brahma, the Protector
Vishnu and the Destroyer Shiva. The Arya Samajists are a smaller
sect; they worship a single god, Brahma. Tamil Hindus practise a
special form of Hinduism, characterized by dramatic forms of
Christianity was the first religion introduced on the island and now has the second largest number of followers. The first settlers belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church. With the arrival of French in 1721, Roman Catholicism became the official religion. The English introduced Anglicanism in 1810. During the 19th century, Presbyterians, Methodists and people of other Protestant denominations also settled on the island. Today many churches are represented on the island, including the Seventh Day Adventists, The Assembly of God, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Swedenborgs.
The third-largest religious group is the Muslims.
Most Muslim Mauritians are Sunni Muslims, but there are also some
Shi'ite Muslims. Mauritian Muslims are somewhat different from Muslims
in other countries because they honour Pirs (Muslim saints),
such as Abdul Kader Jilani, Jamal Shah and Bibi Amina. These were Muslim
holy men, known as Walli Allah (friends of God), who lived on
the island. Mauritian Muslims pray to them and leave offerings at
their graves. Although most Chinese Mauritians have converted to
Christianity, a few Chinese Mauritians are Buddhist, and there are
several Buddhist pagodas on the island. Some Buddhists have shrines
in their houses, where they present offerings in honour of their
Mauritians respect the religions of others and may participate in the practices of more than one religion. For example, Chinese Mauritians may attend services at a Christian church, but also go to the pagoda. Tamils may make offerings of bananas at Christian churches.