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Hinduism in Britain Today


Hindus first started arriving in Britain in significant


numbers shortly after the Second World War. However,


the main wave of immigration, from East Africa,

There are about 1,000 million

spanned the late sixties and early seventies. Most

Hindus in the world, of whom

Hindus settled in inner-city areas, and were often

about 750 million live in India.

relatively poor, many having lost their wealth upon

There are about 800,000 Hindus

expulsion from Uganda. They often became menial

living in Britain today.

workers or started small businesses as grocers,

Most are of Gujarati origin (70%),

newsagents and clothing manufacturers. The natural

and a significant number from

centres of these fledgling communities were the first

Punjab (15%).

austere temples, converted from old buildings such as

Others are from Bengal, South

church halls.

India, Shri Lanka, Guyana, Fiji,

Historical Perspective
Doctrine and Scripture
Movements and Leaders
The Four Main

Settling in a foreign county had its obvious challenges.

The Smarta Tradition

There were initial problems with diet, climate, and

Founders and Theologians

acceptance into the host community. As the second

The Bhakti Saints

generation emerged, some youngsters felt unclear

The Reform Movements

about their identity.

Socio-Political Movements
Recent Spiritual and Cultural
Modern Hindu Groups and
Famous Women within
Hinduism in Britain Today


Hindu parents, concerned to preserved their heritage,

recognised the need to articulate teachings previously
handed down by family and cultural tradition. Temples
and religious groups established formal education
classes, in language, scripture, and the performing
arts. Despite the different appeals for continuity, the
cultural aspects of Hinduism have, quite naturally,
undergone significant changes. Young ladies are now
less likely to wear traditional dress, and Hindu youth
have developed their own brands of popular music.
There is evidence that many young Hindus have
integrated well and developed high degrees of social
and cultural competence in a pluralistic society.
The Hindu diaspora in Britain appears to be flourishing.
Members are well established in professional fields
law, media, medicine, engineering, and accounting
and in many branches of business. Hindu students
often top the charts in academic achievement. Many
magnificent, purpose-built mandirs, replacing the
converted church halls, testify to the growing prestige
and influence of the Hindu community.
The tradition, with its rich culture, accomodating
nature, and emphasis on personal spirituality, not only
endures but makes a positive contribution towards
contemporary British life.

Key Points

Mauritius, and parts of Africa.

Most came here via East Africa or
from India itself.
Throughout the UK, there are
about 135 Hindu temples
conducting regular worship.
There are significant Hindu
communities to be found in
Leicester, London (Wembley,
Southall, and Harrow), Coventry,
the West Midlands, Bradford,
Preston, and Greater Manchester,
with smaller communities in many
other towns and cities.

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"Heart of Hinduism" is Copyright: ISKCON Educational Services, 2004