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Title:Defending Hinduism or fostering division? The decision to introduce Hindu religious instruction in Indian schools in South Africa during the 1950s
Author:Gopalan, Karthigasen
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa (ISSN 0022-4200)
Geographic term:South Africa
religious education
External link:https://doi.org/10.1163/15700666-12340005
Abstract:This article examines the debates and tensions that emerged during the 1950s, when the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, an organization established in 1912, approached education authorities about permitting Hindu religious instruction in selected primary schools. While important to the Maha Sabha, this move brought strong opposition from many quarters. Hindu reformers aimed to promote a 'monolithic Hinduism' and recreate it. However, given the heterogeneity of South African Hindus, who were divided by class, caste, language, region of origin, and the presence of Christian and Muslim Indians, many critical voices feared that teaching religion at school would foster divisions within the 'Indian community', which was considered anathema when it was perceived as necessary to unite against the racist policies of the white minority apartheid government. The deep-seated fears that were exposed by this debate reveal interesting insights about the multifaceted nature of Indian identity and Hindu identity in South Africa. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]