In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Diasporas in Europe

  • Introduction
  • General Overview
  • Hindu Temples and Temple Rituals and Festivals
  • Hindu Procession Rituals
  • Hindu Pilgrimage Sites and Traditions
  • Hindu Priests, Temple Presidents, Bābās, and Gurus
  • Women in Hindu Traditions
  • Hindu Children and Education
  • Hindu Umbrella Organizations and Public Articulations of European Hindu Identity
  • Pan-European Studies of Hindu Communities and Ethnic Groups

Hinduism Diasporas in Europe
Knut A. Jacobsen
  • LAST MODIFIED: 12 January 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0262


The Hindu diasporas in Europe refer to communities of Hindus of South Asian ancestry settled in one of the countries in Europe and to their religious institutions and practices. Hindu diasporas refer only to that part of the Hindu presence in Europe that is caused by migration and is distinguished from other European followers of Hinduism or persons who have adopted Hindu practices such as Hindu yoga or adopted Hindu names. However, the great majority of Hindus in Europe, probably more than 95 percent, have South Asian ancestry. Establishment of temples as the dominant institution of Hinduism in Europe is a function of migration of Hindus of South Asian ancestry to this continent. Large-scale migration of Hindus of South Asian ancestry to Europe is mainly a post-1960 phenomenon. Their earliest Hindu temples were established in the second half of the 1960s and in the 1970s. However, South Asians have been coming to Europe as sailors (lascars) on European ships, as nannies (ayars), students, or have visited for other purposes in small numbers also before 1960, and some settled, but the majority of those who settled were not Hindus but Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs. The first settlements of Hindus in Europe after World War II from the late 1950s and 1960s were dominantly to Britain; and in the 1970s to the Netherlands; and after that to France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and the Scandinavian countries. Of the around two million Hindus with South Asian ancestry living in Europe in 2022, half or around one million live in Britain (in the latest British census, 2011, 834,000). Other countries with a significant Hindu population are all found in western parts of Europe, with the exception of Russia: the Netherlands (200,000), France (200,000), Italy (200,000), Germany (130,000), Switzerland (50,000), the Nordic countries (83,000), Spain (35,000), Portugal (33,000), Russia (40,000), Belgium (10,000), and Austria (5,000). The dominant groups in Europe are mostly Gujaratis and Īḻam (Tamils with ancestry in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka), while in the Netherlands the dominant group are Hindus from the Caribbean (Suriname). Significantly, unlike most other Hindu diasporas, the majority of Hindus in Europe with South Asian ancestry have not arrived from India, but from East Africa, Sri Lanka, and the Caribbean.

General Overview

Research on the Hindu diasporas and Hinduism in Europe has been published mainly from the 1980s on Britain and from the 1990s on mainland Europe. Burghart 1987 is an excellent collection of essays on Hinduism in Britain illustrating this early phase of research. Kanitkar 1987 is a bibliography that includes published works on Hindus and Hinduism in Britain up to 1987. A helpful overview of research on Hinduism in Britain up to 2010 is found in Knott 2013. Baumann 1998 is the first article to include Continental Europe in an overview article on the Hindu diasporas in Europe. Baumann, et al. 2003 is a collection of essays on the Hindu diasporas of the Īḻam Tamils (Tamils from Sri Lanka) in German- and Scandinavian-speaking countries in Europe. The two-volume publication Jacobsen and Sardella 2020 is the first study of Hinduism in Europe that covers every country. It also has important Pan-European overview articles on a number of Hindu groups and types of Hindu institutions in Europe.

  • Baumann, Martin. “Sustaining ‘Little Indias’: Hindu Diasporas in Europe.” In Strangers and Sojourners: Religious Communities in the Diaspora. Edited by Gerrie ter Haar, 95–132. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 1998.

    Explores Hindu diasporas in a number of countries in Europe, while keeping main focus on Britain, it also informs on Germany, France, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries. Directs attention to trends of individualization and commodification among young Hindus.

  • Baumann, Martin, Brigitte Luchesi, and Annette Wilke, eds. Tempel und Tamilen in zweiter Heimat: Hindus aus Sri Lanka im deutschsprachigen und skandinavischen Raum. Würzburg, Germany: Ergon, 2003.

    Important collection of a essays on the Īḻam Tamil Hindus who are the numerical dominant group of Hindus in Germany, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries. Produced in collaboration with Peter Schalk.

  • Burghart, Richard, ed. Hinduism in Great Britain. London: Tavistock, 1987.

    An early collection of research articles mostly on Hindu diasporas in Britain.

  • Jacobsen, Knut A., and Ferdinando Sardella, eds. Handbook of Hinduism in Europe. 2 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2020.

    First publication to analyze the presence of Hindus and Hinduism in every country in Europe. The two volumes contain thematic articles on Pan-European developments and overview articles on a number of Hindu groups and types of Hindu institutions in Europe (Volume 1) and separate chapters on Hinduism in every country in Europe with a focus on Hindu diasporas where applicable (Volume 2).

  • Kanitkar, Helen. “Bibliography: Hindus and Hinduism in Great Britain.” In Hinduism in Great Britain. Edited by Richard Burghart, 252–283. London: Tavistock, 1987.

    A helpful list of published works on Hindus and Hinduism in Britain up to 1987. It lists 616 publications but includes also many publications that give background information on Hindu religion and culture and are not about Hinduism in Britain.

  • Knott, Kim. “United Kingdom.” In Symbolism, Diaspora, Modern Groups and Teachers. Vol. 5 of Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Edited by Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, and Vasudha Narayanan, 334–341. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013.

    Helpful overview on research on Hinduism in Britain up to 2010 with a focus on communal developments, home and family, and national initiatives and global interconnections.

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