- estimated 120,000 Tamils
language speakers) live in Reunion -
immigration and social accommodation in La Réunion
- Christian Ghasarian, Center for South Asia Studies, University of
Tamils in the Diaspora are living in various places among
which the French Island of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean.
Settled in this relatively isolated Island since the second part
of the last century, Tamils have developed some patterns of
behavior that are not quite those of their ancestors from Tamil
Nadu nor those of the other inhabitants of La Réunion.
Anthropological investigations nevertheless show that despite a
strong policy of acculturation and assimilation led by the
French administration on the populations transferred to the
Island, people of Tamil origin have managed to maintain, in an
adapted manner, most of their ancestral conceptions and
practices. An examination at some of these conceptions and
practices allows to catch a glance at the strengths and adaptive
resources of the Tamil culture.
"..Most fire walkers in French-speaking Reunion are
Tamil. Their ancestors were the first to arrive from India to work
on the island, located east of Madagascar, as cane laborers. Life at
that time was difficult, but their adherence to the practices of
their religion and culture kept them strong and united. Still today,
this spirit of respect for ancestral tradition binds them together
in a land where they are—as they have always been—very much in the
minority among the 750,000 people in this Overseas Department
(state) of France..."