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In the Netherlands the nature of Hinduism is different in character to that assumed in other Western countries, particularly Western Europe. In the United States and in Canada it is dominated by Hindus coming mostly directly from India, although there are also many native-born Hindus feeling themselves at home in this tradition. In the United Kingdom the Hindus coming from India predominate as well, although there are also many others coming from other former British colonies. The Hindus in Germany, Switzerland and Norway are mainly Tamils coming from Sri Lanka, where they fled from the civil war of the 1980s and 1990s. The Netherlands is the only Western country where the Hindustani Hindus originated from Suriname in the Caribbean predominate. This gives Dutch Hinduism a special flavor despite the presence of other much smaller groups, such as those of the Tamil Hindus, also from Sri Lanka, and of the autochthonous Hindus. The predominance of the Hindustani Hindus with their Caribbean background makes the situation in Holland of special interest. Nonetheless this study will also pay attention to the other two groups and to the interaction between these three strands of Hinduism.
Dr. Freek L. Bakker was assistant professor in Hinduism and Buddhism, comparative religion and interreligious dialogue at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies of the Utrecht University. He retired on 1 February 2017. Since 1995 he concentrated his research on Caribbean Hinduism.