Hinduism Hinduism in Denmark
by
Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger
  • LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0195

Introduction

Hindus in diaspora of Sri Lankan or Indian origin make up the most significant proportion of Hindus in Denmark, numbering approximately 18,000–19,000 individuals out of a total population of 5.7 million in 2017. That means that they constitutes about 0.3 percent of the total population. However, Hinduism is also represented among the ethnic Danish community, both as an alternative and as a supplement to other religious world- and life-views. Almost 2,000 people, primarily of Danish ethnic origin, belong to what could be termed Hindu-related groups (e.g., ISKCON, Radha Soamis, and Brahma Kumaris), but many more are related to Hindu-inspired groups (e.g., Transcendental Meditation, Sai Baba, and devotees of Mātā Amṛtānandamayī). In particular, yoga, which can be categorized as a Hindu-inspired practice, has been booming over the last ten years, as has the prevalence of Hindu-related concepts such as “karma,” now an integrated part of the Danish language. Examples like this show the enormous influence exerted in Denmark by Hinduism as an inspiration in its widest sense. This overview article on Hinduism in Denmark takes a broad understanding of Hinduism as its point of departure in the selection of the kinds of perspectives and publications on Hinduism in Denmark. This broad point of departure is also chosen because of the very small number of classic studies on Hinduism in Denmark. It includes books, published research articles, PhD dissertations, reports, online articles, magazines, and a few relevant websites, so long as these have a research perspective or provide information helpful to a broad understanding of the subject matter. The article includes work from the 1990s onward and will take historical, sociological, ethnographic, and insider and outsider perspectives into account. This means that work on, for instance, new religious movements inspired by Hinduism will be included, as will articles and reports that contribute constructively.

General Overviews

Summary studies on Hinduism in Denmark are very thin on the ground. Marianne Q. Fibiger is about the only scholar who has written overview articles for an international audience. Some of these are encyclopedia articles (Fibiger 2012 [cited under Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus in Denmark: Thematic Articles], Fibiger 2013), while others are organized around a special theme (gender, work ethics, the second generation, the meaning of the religious institution). Marianne Fibiger is also the principal author of overview articles for a Danish audience, but researchers such as Peter B. Andersen and Erik R. Sand, who together edited and contributed to a special edition on Indian religions in Denmark in the journal CHAOS (Andersen and Sand 1994) must also be mentioned. So must an overview article on Hinduism in a 1994 book, Religionsguiden (A guide to religions in Denmark), edited by Tim Jensen but with contributions from Mikael Rothstein and Marianne Q. Fibiger (see Jensen 1994). This work was updated in 2000, and is now available online. In addition, the historian Bent Østergaard gives a brief two-page description of the Sri Lankan and Indian Hindus in his 2007 Danish-language book on the history of the immigrant in Denmark, Indvandrerne i Danmarks historie (pp. 486–487). And a mapping of religions and spiritual groups in the municipality of Aarhus, the second biggest city in the country, also gives a very good overview of Hinduism and Hindu related groups, as well as new religious movements inspired by Hinduism in a specific locality of Denmark. The mapping has been done twice, in 2002 and again in 2012, and all the groups are described in five-page articles. The articles are written in Danish but are supplemented with some overall introductions in English and can be found on the website of the Centre for Contemporary Religion at Aarhus University.

  • Andersen, Peter B., and Erik R. Sand, eds. Special Issue: Indiske Religioner I Danmark. CHAOS: Skandinavisk Tidsskrift for Religionshistoriske Studier 21 (1994).

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    A collection of articles written in Danish. The articles by Erik Sand on the reception history of India in Denmark (pp. 4–29), Peter B. Andersen on the spread of Indian ideas (pp. 30–48), Finn Madsen on ISKCON (pp. 99–120), and Mikael Rothstein on Transcendental Meditation (TM) and ISKCON in a historical perspective (pp. 121–137) deserve special mention. The journal can be downloaded through the journal website.

  • Fibiger, Marianne Q. “Hinduisme I Danmark: Demografiske overvejelser om Hinduer og Hinduinspirerede Strømninger.” In Tørre Tal om Troen. Edited by Brian Jacobsen and Margit Warburg, 185–197. Højbjerg, Denmark: Forlaget Univers, 2007.

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    This is an overview article that attempts to put numbers on Hindus in Denmark. It discusses who and what can be categorized as being Hindu, and what parameters should be taken into consideration. The article is in Danish and can be purchased through Amazon.

  • Fibiger, Marianne Q. “Denmark.” In Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Vol. 5. Edited by Knut Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, and Vasudha Narayanan, 217–221. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2013.

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    Provides an overall description of the history of migration to Denmark of both Indian and Sri Lankan Hindus, and their differing settlement patterns. It also discusses how the two groups have in their different ways tried to keep up tradition. The article is suitable for all interested in history and religion and is accessible online through Brill, by subscription.

  • Jensen, Tim. Religionsguiden. Odense: University of Southern Denmark, 1994.

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    This online guidebook, which gives a description of the various migration religions in Denmark, contains a section on Hinduism. This section focuses primarily on the Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus and their history, but it also describes some of the most important rituals, especially the rites of passage called samskāras performed by most Hindus in Denmark. The section is basically introductory and can be read by undergraduate students.

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