Hinduism and Popular Cults in Mauritius: Sacred Religion and Plantation Economy 9781032206578, 9781032287034, 9781003298106

This book presents an original and comprehensive reading of the contemporary Mauritian society where Hinduism is practis

443 96 20MB

English Pages 254 [255] Year 2022

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Hinduism and Popular Cults in Mauritius: Sacred Religion and Plantation Economy
 9781032206578, 9781032287034, 9781003298106

Table of contents :
Endorsement Page
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
In Memoriam
Chapter 1 Genesis of a Mauritian multicultural society
Chapter 2 Observation of religious and cultural transformations
Chapter 3 The Kalimais of Clémencia
Chapter 4 The Kalimai of Beauvallon at Camp de Masque Pavé: The nurturing of social relations and the emergence of associations
Chapter 5 The rituals observed at various kalimais
Chapter 6 The Kalimais of Boutique Joseph and l’Unité: Contexts and differences
Chapter 7 Development of villages and temples in the east: Social segmentations

Citation preview

“Pavitranand Ramhota and Suzanne Chazan-Gillig in their book explore the unknown sources of the ritual practices of folk Hinduism. They have given a new idea of folk Hinduism which has never been searched and studied. This research is an advancement in the field of social sciences, humanities, theology and religions. Such a folk Hinduism is also found among the Indian communities in Fiji, Caribbean, African countries and in South Asia. The research can give new ideas when the universities of other Indian Diasporas, Indonesian and South Asian countries compare the transition of Mauritian Hinduism.” Mohan K. Gautam, Professor, Leiden University, The Netherlands “An outstanding work which fills the long overdue gap in scholarship on society and culture of Mauritius. What distinguishes this work is its novel approach of using religion as a key to the understanding of society. In the process it unravels the deeper layers of the Mauritian society and reveals to us its variegated and differentiated nature. In examining the religious beliefs, practices and institutions of Hindus in Mauritius, it shows how changes in the religious realm are deeply linked to changes in social, economic and even political realms. In a significant departure from Weberian thesis, this nuanced study illustrates how transformations in the economic foundations of the society deeply impact the religious beliefs, practices and institutions. In advocating a new approach — how a study of ceremonial practices can yield a comprehensive picture of society — the book paves the way for the study of other societies in a similar manner. The book will be useful not for scholars studying Mauritius but also for anthropologists, sociologists, culture and religious studies scholars.” Sanjay Kumar, Professor of English, Banaras Hindu University, India


This book presents an original and comprehensive reading of the contemporary Mauritian society where Hinduism is practised by more than half of the population. It discusses themes such as the genesis of the Mauritian multicultural society; religious and cultural transformations; the cult of kalimai; the building of social relations and the birth of associations; and the link between Mauritian Hinduism and sugar plantation economy to highlight the interactions of the religious with the political economy of the nation. First of its kind, this book, with its rich ethnographic accounts, will be an essential read for scholars and researchers of religion, Hinduism, social anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, diaspora studies, sociology of religion and African studies. Suzanne Chazan-Gillig is an anthropologist and was formerly a senior researcher and consultant at the Institute for the Research and Development (IRD), France. She earned a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Paris V. She has written several books in French and has carried out extensive fieldwork in Madagascar. Her book on Sakalava Society in Madagascar was published in 1991. She has extensively published her research papers in refereed journals in both English and French. She also conducted empirical research in Mauritius on the topic of migrations, exchange and industrialisation in the context of globalisation of markets. Since 2002 she has been studying the social changes on the west coast of Madagascar. Pavitranand Ramhota is Associate Professor and Head of Department of Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the Rabindranath Tagore Institute, Mauritius. He has been UNICEF Consultant on “Women and Children in Mauritius” and UNESCO Consultant on the cultural heritage of Indian immigrants in Mauritius. He obtained a PhD in social anthropology with distinction from Institute National

des Langues et Civilizations Orientale (Inalco), Paris. He has contributed several articles in refereed journals, and has organised many international seminars and conferences. He is currently working on Indian migration in the occidental Indian Ocean with a perspective of comparative forms of Hinduism and the world of capitalism.

HINDUISM AND POPULAR CULTS IN MAURITIUS Sacred Religion and Plantation Economy

Suzanne Chazan-Gillig and Pavitranand Ramhota


Cover image: Kalimai of Clémencia, Mauritius. Photograph by Pavitranand Ramhota. First published 2023 by Routledge 4 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2023 Suzanne Chazan-Gillig and Pavitranand Ramhota The right of Suzanne Chazan-Gillig and Pavitranand Ramhota to be identified as authors of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to contact owners of copyright regarding the textual and illustrative material reproduced in this book. Perceived omissions if brought to notice will be rectified in future printing. The views and opinions expressed in this book are solely those of the individual authors and do not necessarily ref lect those of the editors or the publisher. The analyses based on research material are intended here to serve general educational and informational purposes and not obligatory upon any party. The editors have made every effort to ensure that the information presented in the book was correct at the time of press, but the editors and the publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability with respect to the accuracy, completeness, reliability, suitability, selection and inclusion of the contents of this book and any implied warranties or guarantees. The editors and publisher make no representations or warranties of any kind to any person, product or entity for any loss, including, but not limited to special, incidental or consequential damage, or disruption alleged to have been caused, directly or indirectly, by omissions or any other related cause. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. First published in French by Éditions Karthala-IRD 2009 British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-1-032-20657-8 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-032-28703-4 (pbk) ISBN; 978-1-003-29810-6 (ebk) DOI: 10.4324/9781003298106 Typeset in Bembo by Deanta Global Publishing Services, Chennai, India

Suzanne Chazan dedicates this book In the memory of her eldest daughter, Valerie To Jean-Bernard, Pierre, Valérie and Anne-Laure Augustin, Maximilian, Yann and Maïwenn. Pavitranand Ramhota dedicates this book In the memory of his wife, Ameeta and his father Hatmanan To his mother, Gowmattee To his daughter, Grushenka and son, Pranav


List of Illustrations x Preface xiv Acknowledgements xvii In Memoriam xx Introduction 1 1 Genesis of a Mauritian multicultural society


2 Observation of religious and cultural transformations


3 The Kalimais of Clémencia


4 The Kalimai of Beauvallon at Camp de Masque Pavé: The nurturing of social relations and the emergence of associations


5 The rituals observed at various kalimais


6 The Kalimais of Boutique Joseph and l’Unité: Contexts and differences 143 7 Development of villages and temples in the east: Social segmentations 171 Glossary 211 Bibliography 224 Index 227 



1.1 Statue of Mahé de Labourdonnais 9 1.2 The place of landing of coolies at Apravassi Ghat 10 1.3 First coolies transport contractual text written in Bengali/Bangla 11 1.4 The emblematic representations of Mauritius, 1895–1897 28 1.5 The emblematic representations of Mauritius, 1967 28 1.6 The emblematic representations of Mauritius, 1969 28 2.1 The altar of the nine stars/divinities of the planet representing the universe 39 2.2 Commemorative stele of the arrival of the first coolies 42 2.3 Commemorative monument of the arrival of the first Tamils in Mauritius 43 2.4 The memorial commemorates the Indians at Apravassi Ghat and the restored building 47 2.5 Photographs of the coolies 48 2.6 The plates symbolises the first steps of the Immigrants arrived at Coolie Ghat now called Apravassi Ghat 48 2.7 Mountain Morne Brabant 50 2.8 Monument to the memory of slaves in Mauritius “core zone” Trouchenille 51 2.9 Terre Rouge: one of the first Tamil temples in the north of the island 62 2.10 The old temple of Bois Piolet 65 2.11 Researcher of the foreign origin is offering to Dhi in the Kalimai of Clémencia. Dhi represents the white owner of the old mill 74 



2.12 Appearance of a new prayer site, representing crosses 74 3.1 The new kalimai of Clémencia 89 3.2 Iconography of Kali in the new kalimai of Clémencia in the background of the seven sisters 93 3.3 Kali’s iconography in the private kalimai of P 97 3.4 The altar of Kali of Mr P.: the seven sisters are represented in black 99 3.5 Appearance of a new prayer site representing crosses 100 4.1 The canes trail that leads to the Kalimai of Beauvallon located at the foot of the mountain of the same name 106 4.2 Kali’s iconography is background of the abstract representations of the seven sisters in Kalimai of Beauvallon 109 4.3 The seven sisters of the Kalimai of the FUEL Plantation Unit 110 4.4 The Kalimai of Beauvallon in 1993 111 4.5 The Kalimai of Beauvallon renovated 111 4.6 Invocation of Dhi to Beauvallon 112 4.7 The altar of Dhi, at the entrance of the Kalimai of Beauvallon 118 5.1 The altar of the seven sisters of the Kalimai of Chemin Cemetière 126 5.2 The Kalimai of Chemin Cemetière 130 5.3 Gowraya, located at the bottom of the Kali altar 131 5.4 The entrance of the kalimai of Chemin Cemetière by an un-asphalted muddy road 132 5.5 The deities Shiva, Brahma (white f lag) and two sister deities of the renovated Kalimai of Petite Cabanne 138 5.6 The ancient kalimai of Petite Cabanne 139 5.7 Inauguration of the statue of goddess Kali 139 5.8 The kalimai of Petite Cabanne renovated the iconographic representation of Kali 140 6.1 The Kalimai of Boutique Joseph 144 6.2 The chimney of l’Unité 146 6.3 The altar of the seven sisters of l’Unité. The figure of Père Laval in the centre 151 6.4 This kalimai was founded in 1960, the photograph was taken during the performance of Hanuman cult 153 6.5 Kalimai of l’Unité 153 6.6 Dhi, located to the right of the Kali altar protected by the shadow of the tree 154 6.7 The abandoned kalimai at l’Unité 155 6.8 Brahma/Baram in the sugar cane field 159 6.9 Kalimai Mahadev Baba situated on the plantation of FUEL 159 6.10 Kalimai of Vallée des Pretes 162

xii Illustrations

6.11 An ancient kalimai in a remote place in the sugar plantation of FUEL 162 6.12 The oldest kalimai of l’Unité 163 6.13 The kovil of l’Unité 164 6.14 Kaliamen, main deity of the kovil of l’Unité 164 6.15 Shiva represented by the trident other tutelary deities at the entrance of the kovil 166 7.1 The Petit Verger Kalimai of Clémencia 176 7.2 The kalimai of the T. family 191 7.3 The kalimai of the H. family 191 7.4 The temple of SitaRam at Lalmatie 192 7.5 Foundation of the temple 193 7.6 The temple of Jhaakandinath Mandir of Lallmatie 194 7.7 Private kalimai of the R. family. Site designed by former Commander Dayal 196 7.8 Overview of the lands and residences of the Ramburun family 197 7.9 The oldest Kaliamen kovil temple of Saint Julien d’Hotman 197 7.10 The temple Soopramanien kovil of high caste founded in 1975 198 7.11 Bonhomme Salute, guardian of the village at the exit of Saint Julien d’Hotman 199 7.12 The kalimai turned into a temple in the 1990s. Bollom Salute is to the left of the temple and back, along the national highway 199 Graphs

7.1 Mutations of the grounds of the mill at Beauvallon 172 7.2 Mutation of land of the mills of Clémencia 174 7.3 Distribution of temples and kalimais in the constituency Moka-Flacq 188 Map

2.1 Location of the first Tamil and Hindu temples



2.1 Ethnic composition of districts where Tamils were elected as parliamentarians in 1991 2.2 First Tamil owners: modes of acquisition and mutations 2.3 Location and date of foundation of the first Tamil temples: the founding families

45 60 61


2.4 Locations and dates of foundation of the first Hindu temples: the founding families 7.1 Area of Camp de Masque mills and village of Camp de Masque Pavé. Number of Indian immigrants in 1865 7.2 Breakdown by caste and ethnicity of the Indian owners of Beauvallon and L’Unité fragmentations made by Rajcoomar Gujadhur (see Annexures 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3) 7.3 Average area and standard deviation of the properties acquired by the Indians of the region of Clémencia, l’Unité and Camp de Masque A7.1 Parcelling of the properties of Beauvallon Fabre 1893 A7.2 Parcelling of lands of Beauvallon, also called “Bois Vallon” 1914 A7.3 Parcelling of the property of Unité, Clémencia and Beauvallon 1937


63 173 175 183 203 205 208


This book is a reading of contemporary Mauritian society which is a particularly rich field for the study of interactions of the religious with the political and the economics.1 The main topic is the Hindu religion, demographically more numerous than the other religions, as it is practised by more than half of the Mauritian population. In this study, the religious field is considered a symbolic system of relationships of all family/ethnic, caste, racial and class orders. The difficulty of the undertaking lies in the multi-religious/cultural form of the Mauritian society and its multiple arrangements, in a close relationship with the economics and with the state, which the authors have characterised as having had a particular historical role as an orchestrator and by establishing constitutional categories different of those inherited from the French model of colonisation. It generated a “communalist” regime reserving national representatives to the best-placed minority known as the “best loser”2 at the outcome of the elections. Successive governments since the independence gained in 1968, some ten years after African independence, have not engaged much beyond the words to control community strategies, caste-ist or those based on colour differences, at most have they sought to limit them so as not to reproduce the ethnic struggles that occurred in Port Louis at the time of national independence in 1968. This particular political and cultural context is not without having been crossed by social interactions that we observe in the popular rituals of the different religions – Hindu, Catholic or Muslim. There are, in fact, particular syncretisms, sometimes a religious outbidding that the authors have correlated with the economic and political transformations revealed in the electoral strategies of the groups concerned by the ritual innovations. The religious effervescence of Indians from all origins – the North Indians, Tamils from the south, Telugus and Marathis – is observed in all religions, Catholic about the worship of Father (Père) Laval or Muslim at the annual ceremony Goon. Many foreigners, tourists, businessmen, 



researchers or experts have generally noted the great religiosity of Mauritians who express themselves in the public space at the time of annual parades of believers of different persuasions able to move a large number of people. Beyond these great demonstrations with pilgrimages organised from one end to the other of the island, the authors ventured the hypothesis, confirmed by the investigations, that any religious change is a symbol of local transformations, social, economic and political in response to the consequences of market globalisation. This unprecedented research field, never studied before in Mauritius, has been treated in a qualitative way through a transversal approach, at the same time historical, demographic, geo-economic and political in order to update the global meaning of the observed symbolic transformations and situations encountered in the course of the field investigation. This book opens with the image of a developed society integrated into the space of the Newly Industrialised Countries (NIC) and, thus, subjected to the constraint of the change of all the markets – financial, land, labour and products. By the detour of the long-term historical perspective, which sees the island society live through royal rulings and the French Empire, ultimately placed under British colonial dependence after the Treaty of Paris of 1814, the authors emphasised the emergence of a new colonial model inspired by the island situation of England whose state practice was radically different from the previous period. By changing the production resulting from slavery and by relying on the institutions already present in the colony, the new British colonial order took shape in the institutionalisation of the census categories of “general population” of Catholic obedience and “Indians” of Hindu religion, all origins combined. As a result, religion and cultural differences of origin were the main factors of social differentiation that led to the constitutional duality established in 1847, confirmed in 1901 between the “general population” and the “Indians,” some ten years before the end of Indian immigration. The different modes of colonial exploitation – French and English – thus, instituted on the dual valorisation of religion and the origins of migration have been at the heart of the questioning of the exact relationship between religious culture, economics and politics in the new system of government. The close correlation of religious/cultural phenomena with contemporary political/economic changes will be discussed in this book which demonstrates different ritual practices dedicated to the goddess Kali whose kalimai altars have multiplied throughout the island, where most of the Indian population had been distributed on the sugar estates for the indentured labour under contract as the coolies (indentured Labourers) in the plantations.

Notes 1 The thesis/theories developed in this work and the analyses of symbolic systems, their economic and political significance revealing the changes at work in Indo-Mauritian society are the sole responsibility of the authors. Preferring to fish by excess rather

xvi Preface

than by default, Suzanne Chazan-Gillig and Pavitranand Ramhota chose to work without a net by engaging in the field of new relations religion/culture, state and societies. Thus, they propose in this book to change the meaning given to the contemporary problems designated by “Creole Malaise” through the detour of the long history in order to specify the types of “identity” representations conveyed by religious institutions and relative to the categories fixed under the colonial administrations, French and English. These historical relations were built around a lasting complementarity between the management of private and public affairs on which duality and constitutional differences were built. 2 See Glossary.


At the time of publishing the English version of the book l’Hindouisme Mauricien dans la Mondialisation, it is a pleasure for us to thank H.E. Jagdishwar Goburdhun, GOSK, High Commissioner of Mauritius to India and now to Malaysia, who was the first reader to be convinced for the need to hand down the vivid memory of Mauritian Hindu culture, both as a popular and a scholarly religion, despite the dissolving context of contemporary globalisation. We would also like to thank Gérard Winter former General Director of the French IRD (Institute of Research and Development) for his support of the research project implemented in Mauritius from 1990 to 1996, upon which this book was realised, and the allocation of annual missions until 2005. We express our gratitude to those who have accepted to receive us over the years and to share with us their knowledge of the society. These sources and interviewees are the residents of villages and urban districts who manage and control places of worship, representatives of cultural associations, semi-public institutions, non-governmental organisations, representatives of small and large companies, auditors and experts from large companies. We are particularly grateful to the Chief Executive Officers and managers of the two most well-known private consortia in Mauritius, Ireland Blyth Limited (IBL) and the Rogers Group. We thank the members of the Board of Directors (BOD) of the major sugar companies with whom we have worked particularly on the history of sugar mills. We are especially indebted to Edouard Rouillard, chairman of the Board of Directors, to Jean-Alain Lalouette, Managing Director, and to the late Philippe Blackburn of the Bel Ombre Company, former Public Relation Officer of the Board. Thanks to their valuable information, we have understood the internal processes of concentration of the old Estate mills in order to reconstitute the great stages of Mauritian sugar capitalism and to identify the incoming crucial 

xviii Acknowledgements

changes linked to the development of the three existing electricity and sugars companies: Alteo,1 Omnicane2 and Terra.3 Many heads of families who owned the old mills also agreed to reconstruct the history of the bankruptcies of the mills that their ascendants faced, allowing us to re-establish, over time, the relationships of capital and labour that have constructed today’s society. Among them are the late Noêl Régnard, Philippe Lagesse and Pierre Dalais. They have contributed by sharing their knowledge of the objectivities of the contingencies of sugar development and their different forms among which our study of Hindu popular cults might have not been realised. In addition, forms of extension of sugar capitalism were clearly elucidated by respondents such as Alfred North-Coombes, Hervé and Philippe Koenig, Camille Hardy, Yann Boullé, Patrick Lincoln, Léon Pitot, José Poncini, Patrick d’arifat, Guy Rouillard and France Staub, both members of the Royal Society of History. We gratefully recall the long exchanges we had with Yvan Martial, founder of the Hazette des Iles and former editor-in-chief of l’Express, with Raj Boodhoo, who worked at the archives during Auguste Toussaint’s time, with Carl de Souza about his book Les jours Kaya, and also with Huguette and Madeleine Ly Tio Fane well known figures in the intellectual world through their writings and their profound knowledge of the archives. May our good friends Hervé, Maryse Hardy and Roger, Marie Hélène Lemaire also be thanked for sharing their relations with the leading executives for the sugar companies of Constance, Beau Champ and FUEL (Flacq United Estates Limited). Unfortunately, we cannot name all our interviewees here, because there were so many of them. Our thanks would be incomplete if we do not mention both drivers who took us to the field, especially Ramesh Ramphul, and Sattish Teeluck. They have both participated in our research on cults. We have several times quoted the mediation of the late Ramesh Ramphul, who was from the village of Camp de Masque Pavé where we conducted our investigations. Finally, we would like to thank Boomesh Beedasy for computerised data, Asha Ramnial for assisting us in the fieldwork and Shameela Chengalrayam Frederik for her help in the organisation of the book in the French version. A token of thanks to my dear friend Mr Hans Ramduth and his wife Leena who at the last hour assisted in re-setting the maps and schemas as per requirements. A token of thanks goes to my friend Viswanath Balloo for his assistance, support and presence needed any urgency of work has been required. We also thank Mr Boopen Beehaary Paray who agreed to assist me in formatting all the photographs. Suzanne Chazan-Gillig also warmly thanks her colleagues and close friends, Nicole Ronchewsky, Françoise Bourdarias and Louis Moreau de Bellaing for their close reading of the French proofs and helpful suggestions. Pavitranand Ramhota thanks Professor Claude Alibert, Vice-President of INALCO in 2004, for agreeing to act as his dissertation supervisor and Professor Christian Ghazarian of Neuchâtel University from Switzerland and Professor Henrietta Moore, Deputy Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science, as well as Suzanne Chazan-Gillig who accepted to participate



in his dissertation committee. He would like to express his gratitude to Professor Archana Kumar for reading the English proofs and editing the English version of this book. His heartiest thank goes to his colleague and bosom friend Vidhu Vatshala Appadoo for the great effort she put into organising the chapters of the book. The English translation of the book was done by Professor Sriniket Kumar Mishra of the Department of Translation Studies, Mahama Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya Wardha, India. We express our deep appreciation to him. This English edition includes revisions and additional chapters for the benefit of the reader, and we hope that it will be useful to scholars of comparative religion, sociology and anthropology, cultural studies as well as to transnational diasporic communities.

Notes 1 Product of the company formerly called FUEL(Flacq United Estates Limited) of Mauritius, which invested in two sugar companies, the first from Tanzania, the second in Kenya. 2 Product of the concentration of the sugar companies of Mon Trésor- Mon Désert in the south of the island. 3 Product of the concentration of the «Harel brothers» company in the north of the island.


It is the late Uttamma Bissoondoyal, former Director of the Mahatama Gandhi Institute (MGI), who supported and often inspired this type of research, the authors would have wished to entrust the presentation of this book. We pay tribute to this great man who left for eternal abode in 2006. An internationally renowned Mauritian intellectual, Uttamma Bissoondoyal was a man of exceptional moral and professional integrity. An initiator and founder of the Department of Mauritian and Area Studies at Mahatma Gandhi Institute (MGI), he had the will to make this Institute a research organisation capable of achieving excellence at national and international level by signing the first research agreement with the Mauritius Research Council and Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) (Research Institute for Development) in 1992. This way, he anticipated the challenge of social science research in an emerging country which was to produce an understanding of the mechanisms of social transformation in relation to the constraints of local accelerated development since 1990 in a globalised exchange system. Under his directorship, several master’s dissertations and PhD thesis in Anthropology, Ethnology, Geography and developmental sciences were performed. Uttamma Bissoondoyal has left his legacy by the changes that took place at MGI such as the continuous training of researchers through research projects, a concept developed by IRD that he implemented in Mauritius. His inf luence is still always present despite the succession of generations.


Contemporary Mauritian society has been marked by two successive waves of colonisation; French colonial administration preceded English colonisation, which was established after the Treaty of Paris (1814). French colonial institutions have been preserved, in particular the colonial assembly and municipalities. The social categories constituting Mauritian settlement were determined by census differentiations which evolved with each census and finally settled on a duality of “general population” and the origins of East Asian migration – Indian, Chinese and Arab migration, some of which have governed parts of India – while other migrations have crossed African trade and trade networks as well as the Indian Ocean due to their advance in shipping. Today, it is the religions synonymous with “civilisations” that structure Mauritian society and its distinction of origin of migrations. From the mid-17th to early 20th centuries, the two major changes introduced by the British colony have simultaneously concerned the production and operating ratios of the former East India Company by the introduction of the sugar economy and the generalisation of the wage system substitute for the slave labour. The capitalist model of the former East India Company gave birth to the sugar plantation economy based on the international inequality between northern and southern countries, the establishment of global banking networks and the globalisation of markets. Mauritius is an insular space away from world markets but now can play the trump card of this globalisation as it is a “Newly Industrialised Country” (NIC). The four main topics related to contemporary society addressed by the research underpinning this volume are: 1. Genesis and development of the Bel Ombre sugar company in the west of the island in order to objectify the emergence of the groups of Muslims representing

DOI: 10.4324/9781003298106-1



the large trading companies in India at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. 2. Genesis and development of the central market of Port Louis in contemporary globalisation. This transversal theme made it possible to highlight the modes of structuring the internal production markets with external exchanges carried by the 18 large sugar companies as well as the cooperatives. 3. Transformation of the Tamil community in the age of globalisation, whereby their own internal history – which began during the French era of colonisation – was followed by a rapid decline in their participation in the global development when they had occupied significant positions in the business and the colonial administration. As part of this, groups of migrants had kept their positions as “great servants of the state” in the British administration, and the wealthy Tamil families (which became owners of sugar mills during the French colonisation period in the regions of Flacq and in the north of the island) had kept their positions too, although they ultimately lost them through indebtedness to banking organisations. The emerging position of Tamils in the Port Louis market was not the same after the financial crisis of the 1930s. The political process of national independence in 1968, ten years after African independence, did not support their retention in central government positions. This particular group within the Indian community has been the hardest hit throughout the stages of the world capitalistic expansion, since the French and English periods of colonisation as well as at the time of national independence. 4. Transformation of the Hindu popular cults, a study that draws the general relations between religion, state, and society. The first two topics had both a transversal character and aimed to deal with globalisation and the new relations between the internal and external markets. The last intended to compare the history of the differential emergence of the southern Tamil community and the northern Bihari’s community, taking into account that those of the European white community and other Indian migrants – Marathi and Telugu – could be elucidated along with the former studies of the sugar companies and the market of Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius. The overall research problem aims to link the social/cultural with the economic and the political. It was intended to escape any overly strict identity questioning, to engage in a collective ref lection and to present how the capitalist world model had imposed itself on the countries located in the south of the planet by comparison between the two competing colonial systems of the world, with successive ruling of France and England in Mauritius after the period of Dutch hegemony. Colonial rule continued when England took over from France. The capitalist model of the first East India Company spread to the north of the planet with the founding of the Triple Esperance, which followed the creation of financial and land institutions and the development of wage labour instead of slavery. A series of archival data were gathered, and interviews were conducted with the



wealthy families which owned sugar mills. They subsequently became shareholders of sugar companies with limited liability such as Deep-river/Beauchamps, Constance or FUEL in the Flacq region in the east of the island. A number of the first migrants of European origin who supported the land and economic development of Mauritius had retained their property lands along the coasts. The popular cults of the Indo-Mauritians called “kalimais” went beyond all expectations and transformations in Mauritius after the 1990s when the globalisation of markets – land, financial, labour – accelerated. Mauritius, through the establishment of a free zone, saw a forced diversification and anticipated the expected deadlines of a non-renewal of international agreements on the price of sugar, so as to also place the textile industry in the sphere of trade on the US market by settling in Madagascar. This book presents the genesis of the birth of popular Hindu cults in the historic region of Flacq where Dutch settlers created the first road leading to Mahébourg. It does this in the context of the first sugar mills, and examines their rapid development in companies with family responsibility – “Society and Co.” After the Second World War, the companies with “limited liability” went along with the development of the shareholdings. This presents the emergence of the multicultural Mauritian society – from the first Indian company, the great trade of yesterday, to the heyday of the sugar plantation economy. This book also explores the Indian popular cults and their transformation into a scriptural-based religion within the temples in Mauritius in the context of globalisation. These are the product of a deep exploration of a set of issues centred – at the very outset – on “Muslims merchants in the Southwest Indian Ocean.” A first mission by Dr Suzanne Chazan-Gillig, senior researcher at IRD (French Research Institute for Development), was carried out in the island of Mauritius in order to meet local academics, researchers and future partners, and to set up a research team in ethnology based on intensive field studies and able to formulate – by a bottom-up questioning of civil society – a general investigation on the relationships between culture, economy and societies. The second chapter emphasises a dual approach, both ethnological and historical, and we gathered concrete heterogeneous field data called a “survey corpus.” Generating an oral memory more or less lost or forgotten and hardly ever socially recognised, relies on fine qualitative ethnological data. The authors acknowledge having approached the study of Mauritian society with a “bottom up” approach, a key concept of the “fieldwork” formerly considered as generating new concepts useful for the renewal of academic categories. This dual anthropological and historical perspective was gained through interviews by a direct approach, from participation in events to which we were usually invited while both of the researchers – national (Ramhota) and foreigner (chazan-Gillig) – have occupied the position assigned to them by the sources we chose. A set of defined criteria relating to the key questions helped to choose the sources. We have obtained new data, and systematically compared it with the writings of the Mauritian National Archives. The new concepts proposed in the last chapter of the book are the product of a critical ref lection on the investigative practice and its effects



on the discourses produced. Through the systematic visit of popular cults/worship, kalimais, ceremonial sharing, the recorded interviews before, during and after the ceremonies, a subjective rationality was organised in the local, regional and national context according to the form of globalisation taken by current Mauritian society. Our fieldwork was mostly based in the east and north of Mauritius. The reason behind this was that most of the Indian immigrants who came to work in the sugar plantations were despatched to the north and the east. The south and the west were mainly inhabited by slaves and their main occupation was fishing. The kalimais in the eastern part distinguishes three levels of social organisation: work, family relations and political emergence referring to three deities, Brahma, Hanuman and Dhi. The transformation from social to political is based on the ideology of the four ages of life karma which is a principle of “life ‘karma’ – a philosophy that rests on ‘reincarnation of the person in a life corresponding to our acts.’” The kalimais in this chapter are located at Camp de Masque near the small village of Bel-Air. The first Kalimai Petit Verger presents a symbol that distinguishes three levels of social organisation: work, family relations and political emergence referring to the two principal deities Brahma and Hanuman, and the tutelary god Dhi who is in the form of a spirit. The practice of the popular cults/worship is found in the very moral necessity of sharing – but without any reward. The Sanskrit term used for this is Nishkama karma and this brings a sense of unity irrespective of caste and religion. The mutation of the second kalimais and its transformation highlights the opportunistic strategies of a psychic-healer in the village of Camp de Masque. The belief that villagers have in the healer, even in these modern times, can never be replaced. Formerly, the adepts gave lots of respect to the person who not only healed the victims but also chased away the evil spirits from the village. Before the restructuring from camp to village, a kalimai was always found at the entrance and exit of a village. The third chapter describes two kalimais which are located at Camp de Masque near the small town of Bel-Air. The first Kalimai Verger can be seen as a symbolic that shows three levels of social organisation – work, family relations and political emergence – referring to the three deities Baram/Bramha, Hanuman and Dhi. The transformation from social to political is based on the ideology of the four ages of life karma which is a principle of “reincarnation of the person in a life corresponding to our acts.” The practice of popular cults/worship is contained in a moral necessity of sharing. The second is the Kalimai of P. and its transformation highlights the opportunistic strategies of a psychic-healer in the village of Camp de Masque. The fourth chapter demonstrates that the Kalimai of Beauvallon is the only one in the region to have the structure of a small temple, where Kali appears as a deity from within and not from outside. The modernisation of this kalimai is less architectural than symbolic and these links were explained to us at length. This kalimai is located on the site of the former Fabre sugar mill, where due to the



displacement of the main deities around Kali we have seen the tangible evolution of living and working conditions of the ploughmen, some of whom have become small farmers independent of the mill’s ownership Unité mill, which very soon fragmented following a f lood. The effectiveness of the deity Kali is symbolically marked by the colour red. The historical reconstruction of this kalimai shows that this place must have been at the barycentre of relations of different orders structured according to social dualities instituted by the respective positioning of the deities: Dhi/Kali, Dhi/Saher, Bramha/Mahabir Swami and Gowraya/Sittla. This symbolic structure opposes an internal/external duality referring to Kali according to the four levels of organisation of the space for worship/cult. The fifth and sixth chapters discuss the precise relationship of society to the economy of the kalimais of Chemin Cimetière, Petite Cabanne, Boutique Joseph and Unité. These four kalimais have the same historical founding groups of families who used their own funds to build their cults. The symbolic rationality of these foundations refers to local social exchanges and relations – cooperation and neighbourhood – which have supported the recent development of local businesses and the recent production of pineapple on both internal and external markets. As for Petite Cabanne, the history of this cult highlights the impact of the closure of former sugar mills on the way in which the geographical mobility of people has intervened in social mobility. The small local history of these kalimais has made it possible to illustrate the process of empowerment of the large Indian sugar plantation and the internal differentiations that have formed. If the kalimais were originally a gift of land made by the sugar mill to the ploughmen, the Hindu religion instituted preferential family ties and caste distinctions in relation to the private/public relations still served in kalimais. The last chapter describes the pattern of spatial organisation that has occurred in the context of sugar production, as it relates to the fragmentation that took place, prior to the birth and development of villages.” Around the sugar business of the mills an Indian society based on the ideology of the action Dharma where the expected merits in the beyond are to the measure of the actions undertaken from the living, moral principle generating a duty of reciprocity.” From mills to kalimais, temples, a long and even process of social and economic differentiation can be seen while internal solidarity between large and small plantation based on the educational values of the Hindu religion (karma) played a certain role in the development of Indian society (for example, cooperatives and trade unions since 1930). Each village in the district of Moka-Flacq is an historical witness of the differentiated forms of social differentiation and segmentation that evolved simultaneously. Thus, this book presents a typology of the kalimais and the development of villages and temples. From there, we can see and understand an unequal contemporary society, differentiated between small and large Hindu planters, a duality between an external financial pressure and an ideology based on the educational values of the dharma on which the networks of market exchange relate trade and non-trade.


Contemporary Mauritian society has been marked by two conceptions of the state that directly succeeded each other – the French colonial administration that followed the English colonisation, which was established after the Treaty of Paris (1814). French colonial institutions have been preserved, in particular the colonial assembly and municipalities. The social categories constituting Mauritian settlement were determined by the census differentiation which evolved with each census and finally settled around a duality “general population” and the origins of East Asian migration – Indian, Chinese and Arab migration, some of which has governed parts of India – while other migrations have crossed African trade and trade networks, as well as the Indian Ocean, due to their advance in shipping. Today, it is the religions synonymous with “civilisations” that structure Mauritian society and its distinction of origin of migrations. From the 17th to early 20th centuries, the two major changes introduced by the British colony have simultaneously concerned the production and operating ratios of the former East India Company by the introduction of the sugar economy and the generalisation of the wage system substitute for slave labour. The capitalist model of the former East India Company gave birth to the sugar plantation economy based on the inequality of the polarised world trade in the north of the planet. Mauritius is located in the western Indian Ocean, some 500 kilometres east of Madagascar and about 100 kilometres east of Réunion Island. Its area is approximately 2,040 km 2 with a high population density.1 The particularity of the island lies both in the diversity of its landscapes and in its population, varied by the origins, languages and religions practised. It has been an independent state since 1968, and acceded to the status of republic in 1992. This “island at the end of the world” is surrounded by the islands of St Brandon, Agaléga, DiegoGarcia 2 and Rodrigues, which were attached to its national territory under the DOI: 10.4324/9781003298106-2

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  7

regime of the English colonial administration. Rodrigues Island, the tenth district administered by Mauritius, has elected a parliament since 2002. The islands of St Brandon and Agaléga have a different status due to the small size of their territories and their small populations. All these islands are directly attached to the “local government”3 administered by a representative of the Department of Overseas. The Mauritian population has experienced different periods. We generally distinguish the French period during as when the first immigrants from Europe settled – from France in particular – from when the slave populations of Africa, Malagasy or Indian origin later settled during British colonisation. People then came from the north and south of India and China to work in sugar plantations. Some traders also came to settle for trading to the islands and countries bordering the western Indian Ocean. Today, Mauritius is visited throughout the year by many tourists. The image given by this busy tourist destination contrasts with the lack of knowledge that one generally has of its society outside the easy clichés like that of the “rainbow” evoking a multicultural society, apart from the qualifier of “Tiger of the Indian Ocean,” an expression sometimes used to describe the place of the island as a Newly Industrialised Country (NIC) in world geopolitics.4 Many researchers publish on Mauritius. Some of them choose significant metaphors of insularity for titles of their publications. Among the publications, the title of Little India (Eisenlohr, 2006) has attracted our attention because it evokes a representation of the Mauritian society according to the most important demographic group and best placed in the state apparatus which, as a result, it would have been in the position of exerting a predominant inf luence in the local cultural, political and economic life. The pluriculturality of Mauritius operates in a complex enough way that this monolithic form of integration is simply not in the realm of possibility. A more recent essay entitled L’île Maurice dans l’œil du cyclone (Grégoire, 2007: 126) sets the tone for an article where the researcher took the position of an expert supposed to make a diagnosis of the situation and an assessment of the chances of success of Mauritius, which has come to stage two of its development, through the creation of a high-tech sector, he restructuring of the textile and sugar industries that have become necessary with the end of the “multifibre and Lomé agreements.” Frontal competition with countries in the north of the world is an established fact, since the price of sugar decreased by 35% in 2006 and the progress achieved in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) cannot be sustained without a highly skilled workforce in place of the unskilled and cheap labour that has made phase one of development successful. These powerful images convey presuppositions about Mauritian society, which, whatever the content of the publications, locks it from the beginning in the external constraints of its economy through which is formed the widespread idea that, ultimately, the small islands on the periphery of the planet would be non-places of world history.

8  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

Our approach is against these positions. It is the product of a long-term research, after ten years of concrete observations on the ground and through the symbolic changes of popular Hindu religion into scholarly religion in present-day globalisation. The insularity we are talking about is the result of external economic constraints that weigh, more or less, directly on the local processes of social integration, so that Mauritius represents all civilisations – Western, Eastern, Muslim – who went through it. They were not strangers to each other. Despite the appearances of a society based on a communal system, Mauritius generates unprecedented forms of social relations through the simultaneous opening and closing of social groups whose historical, racial, community and caste distinctions have been produced in the course of time. Our aim is, therefore, to highlight the new social equilibrium that manifests itself as a consequence of the globalisation of markets, the land and financial markets in particular. For this, we have seen Mauritians of all categories ranging from informants belonging to the big business of Mauritius, Creoles of mixed heritage and former slaves who are part of the poorest and most vulnerable social categories, through the urban “classes” 5 and the rural population where our surveys were conducted.

Constituent duality of the Mauritian people Mauritius, which had never been inhabited in a stable way, is a country of settlement and colonisation, whose history begins well before the arrival of the first French immigrants who settled here. It is rooted in the Portuguese and especially Dutch period, from 1598 to 1710, which cannot be summed up, as we pointed out in a previous article (Chazan-Gillig, 1998), by the exploitation of wood, the destruction of the forest and the disappearance of the Dodo.6 Yet, this is what was most of the time asserted in the making of the Mauritian history which was poorly documented for that particular period due to the lack of translations of written sources in Old Dutch.7 Li Tio Fane (Li Tio Fane, 1993), V. Teelock (Teelock, 2001) and Jumeer ( Jumeer, 1984)8 have treated this period of a history of Mauritius “before history.”9 They agree that Mauritian society was built through the two forms of colonisation – French and English – which were at the origin of the installation of slaves from various African countries, India and Madagascar and contract workers from Asian countries, mainly from India and China. They are generally distinguished from the Dutch period, which, if it resorted to the work of convicts and slaves, did not generate a real system of slave exploitation. The first installation of Dutch was an abortive attempt at development, so that the East India Company had to decide, in 1706, to abandon the colony outright because of its non-profitability. The French period began in 1715 with the taking possession of Mauritius, then called Île-de-France. It then developed a plantation society articulated to trade long distance.

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  9

In August 1935, the bicentenary of the founding of the city of Port Louis was celebrated by its founder Mahé de Labourdonnais, the first Governor of Port Louis (see Figure 1.1).

FIGURE 1.1  Statue

of Mahé de Labourdonnais. Source: All figures, illustrations and tables in this book are by the authors unless otherwise specified.

The arrival of first settlers dates to 1720, and the island was ceded to the East India Company on 2 April 1721. At that time, the slave farming model spread to all plantation economies. The beginnings of the colony were not brilliant, and it was not until the arrival at the governorship of Mahé de Labourdonnais (1734–1746) that the foundations of a colonial system open to trade and favourable to the inhabitants of European origin were laid. Mahé de Labourdonnais made Port Louis the place of traders, he built port facilities, developed shipyards and created the first companies, while developing coffee and sugar cane. When the East India Company definitively surrendered the Île-de-France to the king10 in 1764, the colony had 3,000 immigrants from Europe, France in particular, 15,000 slaves of African, Malagasy or Indian origin and 600 men called “free of colour (libres de couleur).”11 These institutions were preserved when, in 1810, the island of France became an English colony and took the name of “Mauritius” as it is now known. The first Indians who came to Mauritius were either slaves employed in domestic work or free workers known as Malabars (Teelock, 2001). The population growth continued until the end of the 17th century with a considerable increase in the number of imported slaves, so that the population of 1807 on the eve of British colonisation, had 6,500 settlers, 65,000 slaves and nearly 6,000 free workers. Before 1810, when Mauritius was still a French colony, Port Louis was a free port open to free trade, a place of warehousing goods that passed through the Indian Ocean, linking Cape Road to India, for the

10  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

benefit of trade from/to the ports of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It was “the star and the key of the Indian Ocean,” a port of transit and anchorage for long-distance commercial vessels. After the Treaty of Paris in 1814, Mauritius became an English colony and the Port Louis trade closed, now limited to preferential markets of the Commonwealth. The population of Mauritius reached a level of about 100,000 inhabitants between 1815 and 1830, with a certain decrease in the number of slaves and especially an increase in the population “free of colour” and a collapse of the “class”12 of Europeans and their descendants. At the time of the official abolition of slavery (1835)13, the process of emancipation of slaves by the masters was already very advanced (Arno & Orian, 1986: 36 and 76) so that these, newly released, differentiated from those who were then designated as the “free of colour” population. The term “mulatto,” which has not become a census category, denotes a mixed white population, most often native to the island. In contrast, the term “Creole” has been designated in Mauritius14 as the category of former slaves with African, Malagasy and Indian origins, attested by a darker skin, in principle,15 than that of “mulattoes.” After the official abolition of slavery and to alleviate the decline in the productivity of slave labour on plantations, the labour required for the development of the sugar economy was recruited on the basis of a contractual system. ​

FIGURE 1.2 The place of landing of coolies at Apravassi Ghat. Source: Mauritius Archives


The system called “indentured labour”16 was inaugurated properly in the era of English colonisation. The former slaves, replaced by Indian immigrants, left more or less completely, and quickly plantations to settle, preferentially, on the shores of the island and in the suburbs of the capital of Port Louis and Mahébourg. A small portion has settled as small-scale farmers on unsuitable land, most often in the vicinity of their former master’s plantation. The first Indian immigrants were recruited in 1834 for the duration of a renewable five-year contract.

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  11

coolies transport contractual text written in Bengali/Bangla. Source: Mauritius Archives (MA)series.

FIGURE 1.3 First

It was in September 1834 that Hunter and Arbutnot and Co17 signed the first five-year contract with Magistrate MC Farlan of the Calcutta Police Office, giving him the right to carry 36 coolies on board (see Figure 1.3), which arrived in Mauritius on 2 November of the same year. These immigrants were settled on the Antoinette sugar estate, where the Mauritian Government inaugurated the stele erected in memory of the arrival of these first immigrants from India in 1834,18 more than 150 years ago, to work as coolies on the islands for sugar plantations. Indian community grew from 25,000 in 1834 to more than 250,000 in 1910. By the 1860s it had outnumbered the “general population.”19 The “general population” was composed of white Mauritians and so-called “coloured people” and was named the same from 1847 census (Christopher, 1992) because they shared the same Christian religion in the time of slavery that they preserved thereafter.20 One-third of Indian emigrants who arrived in 1865, or about 165,000 people, returned after their five-year contract. In 1890, immigration f lows stabilised and stopped in 1910. Between 1834 and 1912 about 450,000 Indian immigrants ploughed as labourers in the sugar plantations of the island. The majority (60%) came from northern and eastern India (the Bihar region, particularly the Champaran, Shahabad and Saran districts, Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh and Ghazirpur districts where people speak Bhojpuri). In 1843, an immigration of Marathi (about 9% of the population) came from Maharashtra, especially Konkan, Ratnagiri, Savantvadi, Satara Malvanand and Thane (Teeluck,

12  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

Deerpalsing, Govinden, & Ng, 2001) In 1840, Tamils and Telugus were 33% of Indian immigrants. Tamils from Tamil Nadu were from Chengalpattu, Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli, Tirunelveli, Salem, Coimbatore, Viragapatnam, Masulipatam (Machilipatnam), etc., some came from districts of Rajahmundry, Vizagapatam, Ganjam, Chittoor and Nellore (Ibid, 2001).

Statistical categories and social dynamics Indian immigrants were, therefore, of different geographical origins, castes and languages: migrants from northern India speak Hindi and Urdu, those from the southern part speak Tamil and those from the western region of India speak Gujarati or Marathi. Mauritians of the Islamic religion, who represent about a quarter of the Indian population, are a majority Sunni, but they are differentiated by the sub-groups of Sunni Hanafi, Sunni Shafi, Ahmadiyya, Shia, Sufi and Bora ( Jahangeer, 1998). Some Indo–Muslims still define themselves in relation to their geographical origin, for example, because they left Gujarat as traders, they are known as Guajarati. This is the case with Kutcthi Meimons and Sourtis, the former specialising in the importation of grain and the latter being the major importers of cloth.21 Since 1830, a period which corresponds to the beginning of the sugar plantations, the official abolition of slavery, the concomitant development of Indian immigration, followed by the period of the sugar boom of the 1850s, various categories of population have been recorded by censuses. We have successively passed from three groups of population, “Europeans,” “free of colour and slaves” and “Indians” in the census of 1837 to two categories of population in 1846 named “general population” and “Indians,” while the distinction for former slaves emancipated as “apprentices” remained until 1861. In 1901, an attempt to count Mauritians of African origin was made, but it was a failure if we believe the statistical results counting 643 individuals for 112,846 “emancipated” people of colour. In 1911, the old category of “Indians” was divided into “Indo–Mauritians” and “Indians” (Christopher, 1992) to distinguish first-generation migrants called “old migrants” who had become natives vis-à-vis newcomers, Indians or Chinese. The statistical categories continued to evolve after the end of Indian immigration from 1910 to 1952: “Indians” accounted for two-thirds of the population, “Chinese” (1 to 3.5%) and “general population” the last third. During this period Mauritius has experienced a more moderate growth, rising in 40 years from 370,000 to 500,000 inhabitants. The strong natural growth that followed this period brought the country into the demographic transition phase as the 500,000 inhabitants recorded in 1950 rose to 800,000 in 1970 and then to 1,100,000 in the 1990 census.22 In 1960, Mauritians of the Muslim religion were counted and separated from Indians of the Hindu religion. From 1968 until today, the census categories no longer officially counted community differences as a result of the ethnic struggles that took place in Port Louis in 1968 on the eve of independence, so that the 1982 census distinguished those four major categories of Mauritians

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  13

grouped according to the languages ​​spoken by parents and grandparents and religious affiliations. In 2000, with a population of 1,143,069 inhabitants, the “general population” numbered 467,141 persons, of whom 420,000 were Creoles and 20,000 were Mauritians of French origin, the “Sino–Mauritian” community was 26,104 people, the Hindu community 593,596 people and the Muslim community 52,136 people. This latter figure, however, is undervalued because of the linguistic affiliation of many Muslims to different Hindu languages. The dominant religion is the Hindu religion. It brings together 51.9% of Mauritians, Christian religion 30.2%, and Muslim religion 17%, a stable figure since the 1960s (Widmer, 2005: 48–49).23 The Hindu population, which represents 57% of the population, according to the 1999 census, was built like the other social formations – general population, Sino-Mauritian and Muslim population – from two contradictory movements of economic and political integration based racial, ethnic, religious or linguistic differences.

Displacement of the “Creole” identity: “Creoles,” “general population,” “Indo–Mauritians” This rapid statistical presentation of the components of the population of Mauritius tells us not to take for granted the differences instituted between social groups in the successive censuses of English administration – the terms “Indians,” “Indo–Mauritians,” “Europeans and half-breeds,” “free people of colour,” “emancipated coloured people: Apprentices” and, finally, the most complex category of “general population” – but to interpret them. The census categories evolved towards a binary representation of the social body around the classification in “Indians” (1837) and “general population” (1846) which grouped all the residents of the colony, indiscriminately, whether they came from development, trade and/or work migrations in the form of slavery or wage labour. The demarcating line established between those who were already present under the French colonisation, so-called “Creoles” because native to the island and immigrants from the Indian continent has passed over the real identities of origin of African people of colour, Tamils, Malagasy partially mixed and assimilated to the European white population of the “general population” and those of the Biharis, Telugus, Marathis, Tamils for the “Indians.” This duality between two categories of population is emphasised even today by forgetting the history of displaced populations in the official reconstruction of the history of Mauritius, too exclusively focused on the origin and development of the sugar industry and colonial powers, without sufficient importance being given to these economic actors of the colony who came as slaves or as contract workers in the plantations at the time of the “coolie-trade.”24 That is why we have interpreted the institutional dividing line of Mauritian population on the eve of the sugar boom of the 1850s “in a period of the time when the question of power is inseparable from that of servitudes, liberations and enfranchisements” (Foucault, 1997).25 Knowing that economic emergence of people of colour has been identified by Richard Allen to

14  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

true “demo-economic” revolutions and that the differentiation into “mulattoes” and “Creoles”26 dates back to the time of the “small fragmentation,”27 under English colonisation, after the official abolition of slavery in 1835, our approach to the origin and development of the multicultural/religious society of Mauritius strives to go back to the very foundations of social Creolisation.28 The real political and economic meaning to be given to the population census categories goes well beyond a chronology of the appearance of these categories of classification. Since the work of Richard Allen, the first researcher to measure the social and economic differentiation of people of colour and “Indians” who came from trafficking and “coolie-trade,”29 we know that social Creolisation30 was already present at the time of French colonisation and it continued under the English colony (1776–1851) without at the beginning for people of colour, a sufficient consolidation of their new situations. The issue raised by the author31 in 1993, when he began his research, to which we can answer only by hypotheses, was to ask “why the people of colour who controlled important financial resources in 1830 and much of the colony’s land in 1825 was not oriented towards a diversified agricultural activity?” If the whites have retained their quality of superiority in the instances of colonial government, if people of colour, all categories combined, have been able to access the small ownership of the lands, it remains nonetheless that it is the external financial constraints which caused the variation in local economic situations. These led to the bankruptcy of some and the success of others in the context of the Indian immigration policy from 1834 to 1910 and the change of production relations after the official abolition of slavery which saw the emergence of a specific division of labour in the sugar industry. During this period of 80 years of internal social mobility, what has been the role of the colour barrier in relation to changes in the economic situation of each? The introduction of the “general population” on the basis of the reunification of people of colour to the white population had the effect of disguising the conservative aspect of the power of the administration which, while abolishing trafficking, did not affect existing inequalities. That is why the ideal of civic equality contained in the British colonial ideology quickly led to a shift in the meaning of the term “general population” which, thus, escaped the nominalism of its appearance so that the distinction of colour black/white included in the old slave society has resurfaced in a new form according to the social transformations of white and colour populations about the distinction of “mulattoes,” formerly “people of colour free” and that of “former emancipated slaves” to be designated as “Creoles.” The reproduction of the colour barrier, in the absence of a voluntarist policy to mitigate the social inequalities of the earlier period of the slave trade, does not mean that the old differentiations have been renewed. These ancient distinctions of “whites, mulattoes, emancipated slaves” will apply to the divisions of internal work to the sugar development in the sense of the main separation of “general population” from the “Indians,” who have never been legalised as “Creoles,” native to the colony but qualified as “Indo–Mauritian” when the first generation of Indian natives on the island will

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  15

exist following the renewal of the employment contracts of those who chose to stay. On the one hand, there was work specific to mill activity and the services that surrounded daily life of homeowners’ families, on the other hand the wage labour in cane fields which was mainly the business of the Indian labourers with a renewable five-year contract. At the same time, a hierarchy of functions was organised concerning mill administration services, domestic work and livestock and gardening activities in addition to cane production. The notion of “general population” represented the mode of organisation of work in the sugar mills. As for the notion of “Creole Island,” it represented the main division around which was organised the division of labour in sugar mills differentiating natives from Indian immigrants. In no way did it cover the status of notables of the former Île-de-France by which the families of travellers, merchants, businessmen or concessionaires, mostly white and some mixed race, were qualified in the registers of arrival of the boats,32 whose economic and social position allowed them to travel in Europe and the Indian Ocean, in the privileged space of the “Mascarene Islands”33 and in the ports of the riparian countries, where were the former trading posts under the Indian companies. The administration registered these travellers as “Creoles of Mauritius.” In contrast, the emergence of the notion of “general population” was an official representation, f lattened of the former colonial society of the former Île-de-France corresponding to the new colonial order based on the external dependence of the ancient notables instituted from the outset through the signing of the “oath of allegiance” to the British crown of those who made the choice to stay on the island. The new controlled name of “general population” intervened only in 1847, more than ten years after the abolition of slavery. It coincided with the legal–political concept of the new colonial society in which divisions by colour were no longer the framework of legal differentiations. Finally, the development of the new relations of production in the sugar mills, separating the Indian farmers from the old Creole world, of which a large proportion of former emancipated slaves had left the concession of their former masters, this division was in conformity with the legal principles of abolition as with the necessities of agricultural development for which Indians were recruited. These changes in the legal–political and economic spheres have led to a shift in the meaning of the Creole term, which will lose its initial differentiation of the class of notables, businessmen and concessionaires residing in the islands of the distance, where they had founded a settlement, which lived on the local development and unequal exchange manufactured products and primary products practised by the metropolis vis-à-vis his colony. This model of development was accompanied by forms of local accumulation that generated the advent of an elite rooted on the spot that has retained the privileged links, often family with the metropolis. This social “Creolisation,” which was the direct product of slave labour on plantations, has been definitively replaced by the organisation of a new colonial regime based on an insular conception of development. The latter consisted, for the London metropolis, of taking commercial and financial control of the

16  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

products of the work carried out on the spot, by installing an indirect government of the colony where the notable owners of the sugar factories had a function mediating the power vis-à-vis of the administration. In this new colonial model, territorial legitimacy considerably facilitated the task of the new colonisers, who did not wish to participate directly in local development. A natural complementarity has been established between the old and the new power of planters and sugar manufactories and the business centred on the preferential markets of the “Commonwealth.” This complementarity of economic and financial powers led to the reversal of the meaning of the Creole term, which no longer identified with any social Creolisation of a dominant minority. This term has been nourished by the effects of domination through various processes, ranging from bankruptcies to partial successes, more or less durable, to finally designate the kind of negation of the new system and apply to the dominated, excluded or “being excluded from” sugar development. The negation of colour differences, which occurred in the space of half a century, giving rise in 1847 to the category of “general population” on the eve of the sugar boom of the 1850s, generated its opposite, the former dominated of the previous regime, at least those who have failed to consolidate their economic emergence when they acquired it for lack of financial means to cultivate their land. Two dialectical mechanisms of transformation of the white society and people of colour were articulated to arrive there. First of all, there was a dialectic of quality/quantity as a result of the weakening of the power of the notables of the former Île-de-France, to whom it was only recognised that marginal autonomy, a simple power of mediation in the internal relations of the new colonial order. In a second step, after the abolition of slavery, thanks to the compensation procedures of the former slave owners, there were multiple transgressions of the colour barrier and significant social mobility, some enriching up to the status ladder, the others getting poorer. The social resetting was described by André Maure who compared the situation of the notables prior to the hurricane of 1816, who had contributed to the reconstruction of the city of Port Louis completely destroyed during this natural disaster, to that of the period of compensation after 1835. Referring to the negative consequences for some of the compensation, he noted that it “will have put into circulation, like a currency, by means of private deeds that passed from hand to hand, houses, lands and arms of the colony”. Thus, we went from the trading company to the sugar plantation company through the financial and legal domination of the new metropolis. The debt situations experienced by some large planters were similar to the financial crises of the former regime that contributed to the development of the first Mauritius bank, the Mauritius Commercial Bank. On the strength of this analysis, the author who was the stockbroker under French Governor Decaen34 “fustigeait … tous ces gens assez imbéciles pour échanger leurs maisons, leurs terres et leurs noirs contre une monnaie” (1840: 97). The former dominant society represented in the colonial assembly by the rural proprietors known as “Creoles, who came from army, almost all decorated with titles, merchants and lawyers from the bourgeoisie of the cities of the

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  17

Atlantic and the Mediterranean” (1840: 84) was upset. The artistic vagueness of the social strategies of this era of the transition from slavery to indenture made possible the overcoming of divisions by colour, which was the bearer of the “general population” in the legal and political context where these distinctions could not formally manifest, where the number of bankruptcies that have occurred has given rise to very rapid concentrations of mills. These social, as well as economic, constraints intervened to complete the process of inversion by which the qualifier of Creole served, not to designate the dominants of the system, but the dominated ones. And the colour barrier between “whites” and “mulattoes” has been all the more informally restored as transgressions have been frequent. To take the measure, one must refer to the real genealogical history confirmed by the families who founded the mills, went bankrupt or preserved their land holdings at different stages of a saw tooth development. The territory of the mills was the real framework of a form of social reproduction in which the separation by colour resurfaced fixing the white identity by reference to the genealogical depth of families likely to go back far in time, even beyond from the origin of the migration of their ancestors when they came to the island, that of “mulattoes” was measured by the proximity of the white identities of certain lineages. Some of them have developed skin laundering practices by choosing temporary unions legitimised by marriages. A dividing line naturally broke out between those who were able to emancipate themselves from the financial constraints of the beginning of sugar trade by the compensation they received and those who did not benefit from it. This is why, faced with the multiple transgressions of the colour barrier and the changes in the economic positions of one or the other, a dual identity of “mulatto” and “Franco–Mauritian” has emerged, forming two distinct classes of the society that will become on one hand the senior executives and on the other a hierarchy of employees, craftsmen and mill workers as their rise and their transformation into sugar companies. The mills give a good idea of ​​the social growth processes of families, some of which have lost their assets in different periods of concentration. It is at these levels that we can best see the changes made, beyond the formal reproduction of the old inequalities of colour, beyond the legal and constitutional integration of the “general population.” Finally, from a negation (the regal power of the notables of the former Îlede-France) to the other (the old scales of status by colour), the Creole term will eventually designate the dominated, excluded from the new sugar development. The term “Franco–Mauritians” appeared in place of the former official name of “Creoles des îles.” It designated for the English administration, officially, the white minority of French origin. It is quite the opposite that occurred on the island of Réunion where the Creole term continued to apply to the local elite white or mixed race. It has retained its original meaning of “social creolisation” while in Mauritius it has received a new application reserved for blacks of African or Malagasy origin in the former île-de-France became “Mauritius.” The chronological evolution of the census population categories shows historical continuity of the notion of “general population” whose social utility was

18  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

recognised for the first time in 1847 and still is today. On the other hand, from 1911, the “Creole” term, deprived of its original attributes could not be the frame of a social unification referring to the natives of the island “Indians, people of colour and white” reason to be of the emergence of the “Indo–Mauritian” temporary classification category to distinguish former “old migrants” and migrants from newcomers of the same Indian origin. The Creole issue in Mauritius cannot ignore the global logics at work given by the double colonial inf luence which has mixed up complementarily or concurrently with the aim of achieving a sufficient local accumulation to be able to play, as it is the case in the big leagues of international capitalism, the globalisation of today. The social and economic integration was built through the hazards of sugar development and the permanence of certain historical links existing between the families of large planters from the islands of Réunion and Mauritius. Sugar development was built around the two poles of colonial organisation. Never again, the dividing line established in 1846 between the “Indians” and the “general population” will not be called into question even when the criteria of social unification will refer more to the great civilisations identified with the major religions, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic and Muslim in 1982 after the ethnic struggles of 1968, even when Hindu religious society was divided into groups of different origins according to the language or religious rituals practised, Biharis, Marathis, Telugus and Tamils under the inf luence of religious and cultural associations. Let us study all these factors which contributed to the durability of the duality of the political and economic organisation.

Disruption of white society and land accumulation of Indians The land speculation that prepared and followed the advent of sugar trade, the social strategies and the registration and distribution procedures of the compensation of former slave owners have been the cause of upheavals in white society and by people of colour, in other words in the “general population.” The territorial issue was still considered, at that time, as secondary in the ordering of the colony’s powers, at the time when the Chamber of Commerce became Anglicised after the crisis of English currency of 1847, while the chamber of agriculture remained the privileged domain of the big planters of the former French colony. Richard Allen’s systematic research on population censuses and notarial deeds from the end of the royal regime, during the Empire under French colonisation and the beginnings of British colonisation,35 to the sugar boom of the 1850s (1776–1851) show that “free coloured people” and former “emancipated” slaves had already accumulated enough “domestic capital” for many of them to acquire land. This process was favoured by dealers who offered to sell some of their properties. The former slave society, which had already begun its social and economic transformation since 1776, opened up, making it possible to gain access to the land by “free people of colour” until 1830,36 a process that extended to former slaves “emancipated,” after the abolition of slavery, until 1850 when the period

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  19

of “small fragmentation”37 ends. As a result, people of colour participated, more or less, by their intermediate accumulation, in the local accumulation of capital. During the 1840s, between 1839 and 1849,38 the number of land changes reached a record level. The phenomenon was so general that Richard Allen could speak of “small fragmentation” of lands. With a lag time of two generations compared to the emergence of “mulattoes,” many former slaves also acquired small plots of land favoured by the strategy of the dealers who sold them land, both in order to keep them as much as possible on the plantation and to pay off their debts. Richard Allen said that in 1812, “a quarter of the owners of the colony were in debt and half of them knew they could not pay their debts at high interest rates, so that in three years the debt doubled” (Allen, 2007).39 That’s why they sold the only land capital they had. The highlight of this process of land accumulation of “Creoles,” former slaves “emancipated,” is between 1839 and 1849, during ten years of “small fragmentation”40 of land property. Finally, the Indians (with a class of traders among them) – Tamils arrived at the time of French colonisation or former administration officials in India and Muslims, most often committed to large trading houses in India – who could accumulate between 1840 and 1889. This period of accumulation was favoured by a general redistribution of land41 following the collapse of the great British business houses (Paturau, 1988: 155) during the crisis of the British Pound of 1847. At this time of “great parcelling” emerged the first-generation Indians who became both traders and agricultural entrepreneurs by diversifying their activities. Thirty years later, from 1876 (North-Coombes, 1993), the first so-called “old migrants” Indian immigrants, who had renewed their first employment contract several times, gained ownership of the land in the interstices and through the hazards of sugar development. This first land accumulation of the Indians was based on a collective relationship to the land generating forms of socio-family belonging whose rules of endogamous alliances were similar to those of the families of sugar owners, white for the most part and “mulattoes”; while the accumulation of people of colour was an individual relationship to the land based on a transaction of the lands of properties offered for sale by the concessionaires. At this time of the “great fragmentation”42 and emergence of the Indians of the first generation, trade and agricultural activities were closely linked so that with sugar concentrations commercial offices were created in Port Louis, while Indians worked more and more as “agricultural entrepreneurs” being independent landowners, sharecroppers and/or managers of the sugar plantation workforce. These social systems of ownership were converted into financial and consumer cooperative societies from the 1930s. Finally, the reduction to two categories of classification of the Mauritian population refers to changes in socio-economic conditions that occurred during the long period that covered the end of French colonisation until the beginning of sugar development, i.e. 80 years, approximately from 1776 to 1850, during which the former slave society experienced a considerable social mobility of “people of colour free” first, then former slaves “emancipated” after the abolition of slavery

20  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

while the first Indian immigrants realised their emergence only from the 1880s. To do this, they built a relationship to the land generating socio-family forms of belonging, based on strictly endogamous alliance rules, such as have practised from the beginning of their installation families of white planters.

Two modes of social and political integration The “general population” of whites, blacks and mestizos (mixed race) respectively designated as “Creoles” for the first and “mulatto” for the second reproduced the colour barriers after different periods of social reformulations that occurred at the end of the 18th century and during from the 19th century. The bonds of miscegenation have remained buried in memories as “family secrets” that everyone keeps jealously with the exception of educated “mulattoes” still seeking the “historical” truth of their lost identities. The model of social reproduction of families, recomposed or not, excluded or partially integrated into the sugar economy, was founded on the same principle of strict endogamous unions without which the new situations acquired could not have been perpetuated and transmitted. As for the “Creoles,” they could not really benefit from the political revolution of abolition, the expected effects of which were limited by the fact that there was not a real revolution of mentalities with it. The genealogies of “Creole” families that we have gathered have shown the reproduction, over the generations, of past domination, under the combined effect of poor personal protection both by the working ties and by the community of religious sharing. We found that the same endogamous marriage rules forged a solidarity of “Creole” families around the residence and small pieces of land legitimised by the antiquity of the facility rather than by modern legislative law with demarcation and titles of property. Thus, the centre of the village of Trou d’Eau Douce, for example, was structured around the church, donated by the most inf luential family of the place at the head of a consortium of businesses commercial and entrepreneurial located in Port Louis and Phoenix, one of the free zones created in 1970.43 Contrary to certain rapid affirmations, the “mulattoes” and “Creoles” of the east coast have built up a real local rooting: some “mulattoes” today have seaside encampments on the state land, others are gathered in neighbourhoods grouped in the centre of the village, where live “small republics of cousins” of the population “mulatto” and “Creole,” like the large families of the white community and the more recently installed Indians. The rooting of the Indians was played out in a very different way through the emergence of religious buildings that are the temples that were built after the popular cults were the starting point for the unification of the socio-familial groups and the production of the main statutory caste44 differences. This differentiation in caste occurred in several stages because it supposed to reinterpret the founding traditions of the cults and the epics proper to each deity according to the organisation of the families and their reproduction, after the introduction of the rules of marriage adapted to the insufficient number of women at

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  21

the beginning of immigration. Again, there has been interbreeding that is never discussed in debates on Indian immigration as cultural, linguistic, ethnic or religious identity is strong and social bonds intersect as a result of endogamy strict families. As a result, some minorities – such as “Telugus” or “Babujees/ Marazs” – are today considered to be one and the same extended family. During the course of the development of immigration, the colonial government sought to moralise the system of maritime transport of the engaged to make it in better sanitary conditions, and to equalise the inequal male/female demographic ratio in the colony. These immigration control rules were applied to the three main departure ports of the ships – Bombay, Madras and Calcutta – and on arrival at Port Louis.

From slavery to indenture Neglecting the complexity of slave societies (Teelock, 1998), ignoring the multiple transgressions to the sexual prohibitions between whites, people of colour, as well as the social resetting that occurred during the 19th century in the different social groups, to forget the interbreeding “Indians/general population” that occurred both during the French colonisation era and at the beginning of the “coolie-trade”; finally, ignoring the changing conditions of immigration necessarily leads to abuses of language that does not shed light on the question of whether the change in working conditions through the introduction of a “constrained employment” (Yann Moulier Boutang, 1998) has been a social and political progress, or not. In reality, the abandonment of the slave trade by the English crown was part of the very process of capitalist expansion just as new technologies were developing. In Mauritius, the dual-evaporative vacuum steam cooking machine was introduced by Charles Telfair, friend and adviser of Farquhar, which would reduce the demand of work force necessary for plantations (ibid.: 405). If we can say with Hugh Tinker that the living and working conditions of slaves and coolies have been comparable, granting to the sugar experience of those who supported it the bitter taste of a story humanly difficult to surpass this analysis is valid only because it allows one to understand the legal differences that were produced from 1847 on when the category of “general population” emerged. With regard to the origin, the social significant duality of the respect for the French heritage by the British colonial administration which sought only to pay the right price of an advanced position in the western Indian Ocean while doing business (Chazan-Gillig, 1998: 99). This administration has operated with a very small staff, it had its own institutions of social and educative life, the English way of life became a model to imitate to comfort one’s position in the local “establishment.” Being 25 years ahead of French industrial development, England’s maritime and commercial culture has left its mark on the model of government chosen by the British colony. This is why the slave’s past, but also the “coolie-trade,” still testifies to a past but hardly overcome history despite the emergence of social elites that have been

22  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

formed in successive stages since 1930, alongside the “French–Mauritian”45 and are actually strengthened with the national independence gained in 1968. Hugh Tinker (1974) claimed that the change of system did not change the working conditions of the labourers just as hard in the indenture labour as at the time of slavery. This is shown by archival documents that speak for themselves. Many commissions of investigation and reports testify to the reality of the exploitation which weighed as heavily on the labourers of the sugar plantations as it was the former slaves. In these conditions, one can wonder how one went from a domination based on the capital/labour relations of the time to the development of complementarities of mutual interests46 that were built over the course of time between sugar growers and employees despite the exploitation of the work whose memory is still present among the descendants of certain families. In spite of everything, a marginal but real solidarity of interests developed between “bosses and workers,” between “owners of mills and employees” in the context of the external financial domination. We have seen above that the capital/labour interdependence was manifested very early because of the existence of a “domestic capital” which was profitable to the sugar development and the strengthening of the economic position of the “mulattoes” thus the primitive accumulation of the first Indian immigrants also called “old migrants.” To these mechanisms of economic support of social groups towards each other,47 it is necessary to add forms of partial counter-dependence of planters with regard to contract workers (Chazan-Gillig & Widmer, 2001: 87–88), in periods of crisis, repeated natural disasters, external financial dependence,48 all of which have allowed the model of exploitation of hired labour to reproduce in smaller units, to internalise by taking the religious and cultural social forms locally instituted through the popular Christian or Indian cults, respectively of Père Laval or kalimais.49 The example of the evolution of the sirdar function and the change in the nature of the relations of production illustrate the way in which the colonial power has been diffused in the internal relations of work on plantations. The sirdar was a kind of foreman on the plantations. From a simple recruiter of labour, he ended up turning himself into an “agricultural entrepreneur” manager of the labour force on the lands of the sugar factories for which he fixed the remuneration. The polyvalent function of intermediate power vis-à-vis the settler and the owners of the mills they had had simultaneously on the recruitment, the distribution of the workers on the fields of cane, the remuneration of the labourers. The sirdar and “contractor” services were the privileged places for building the social bond through work after those established during the trip on the same boat. The economic emergence of the first sirdars and their extended family branches was quickly manifested at random fragmentation and land changes. They became small, then large independent landowners, exploiting the land they often took in sharecropping in addition to their acquired property. The sirdar organised the work of his band of labourers on the land of the property for which he was responsible. The same labourers could be used to work on the lands of the

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  23

sugar factory, on the sharecropper land allocated to the sirdar by the boss of the sugar estate and on his private land in addition to the family labour who lived on the profits of the farm. A collective relation to the land was the starting point for the rise in power of these families50 settled in the camps where the relationship and alliance was mixed. An indirect management mode of the sugar owners granted a real management autonomy of agricultural work which could go as far as fixing the price of labour of the band of workers. The sirdar has quickly become a small “agricultural entrepreneur.” In addition, the new production relations based on wage labour have changed the power relations within sugar establishments. The slave’s personal connection to the master was no longer the sole vector of social integration51 and it is the newly acquired social position in the local economy that has become the criterion of integration. From 1880, a class of independent Indian landowners was established in the interstices of sugar concentrations while, on a symbolic ground of civic equality, the distinction of colour remained the basis of the differentiation of function relating to the mills about domesticity, administrative functions of supervision and execution within the workshops of crafts and mechanics. Due to the transfer of power from the colonial administration to the sugar owners in charge of organising the life and work of the mills, the latter were the main actors in the political and economic integration of the workers, whose indirect power was based on the duality of political organisation by the separation instituted between “general population” and “Indians” at the beginning of sugar development. More than socio-demographic categories, this distinction represents the fait du prince. That is to say, despite appearances, the identities produced within the two social formations were locked up in the production relations established after the abolition of slavery in the colony between the former residents differentiated by colour and immigrants from various parts of India.

Models of social differentiation The two models of differentiation of “people of colour” – by proximity/assimilation/identification – and Indians – by separation from the white world – have become alienated to each other to the extent that the state has chosen the dividing line between former residents and immigrants of the colony to establish its legitimacy. From the State orchestrating the differences emerged a society based on a homology of the powers of the administration and the future sugar managers that has spread in internal relationships giving free rein to the development of families, some associated with business, other wage earners, in commerce, industry, agriculture or vis-à-vis the state. In the background of the constitutional statistical categories of 1846, there was legal recognition and homology of the situation of labour migrants in the plantation vis-à-vis people of colour whose activities were mainly associated with domesticity, supervision, crafts, mechanics and roads in a context of technical innovation and market control by the civil service. This is why the slave past, but also the “coolie-trade,” testify to a past that has

24  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

been difficult to overcome, despite the emergence of new social elites alongside “French–Mauritians” since national independence, despite the social resetting that took place in the white and coloured world at the time of the transition from slavery to indenture labour. The reverse movement by which the “assimilated white world,” differentiated racially, found itself united to its belonging to the same language and religion, the one by which the Indians were differentiated by the land before they were by the religion, reveals the importance of the economic positions that the “free of colour,” the “emancipated” and the “Indians” have acquired in the fact of being taken into account collectively in the new political order. The year 1860 saw the official erasure of the distinction of “emancipated” and “free of colour” gathered in the same category of “general population,” that of 1891, for Indians whose natives will become “Indo–Mauritian” can be considered as two particular moments in the conquest of economic and social autonomy by the respective social groups, prior to their true fixation on the native soil. More generally, the period from 1810 to 193052 was marked by the need to build from scratch forms of sociability that go beyond the old racial divisions of the French period and to structure a new world from India during the English period of “coolie-trade,” while the sugar industry was developing. The emergence, during this long period, of a “local domestic capital” and the land strategies that accompanied it established the singularity of the Mauritian experience generating ruptures, separations, through which have emerged the distinctions of class. The break in British colonial practice was simultaneously moral, political and economic. By transforming the “slavery” vision of the world as it had developed in France, and more generally in Europe in the 18th century, the administration based its power on the sovereignty of the state depository and guarantor of the balance of relations between the world of colour, the more recently arrived Indian immigrants to the colony and the power of the owners of sugar establishments. If the abolition of slavery could be considered as having been a “world revolution,” it was not born from the possible moral justifications to which it was most often reported and that, to the exact extent where the new way of exploiting labour is part of an indirect management practice of state affairs, here the “sugar estates.” Apart from the direct control exercised by the administration on the commercial and financial stakes of London engaged in the nascent metallurgical industrialisation, the abolition of slavery was a marvellous instrument of colonial government at the very moment when was generalised the wage system based on a contract of employment limited in time and renewable. The new wage model instituted was based on the simultaneous mobility of men and goods in the English colonial market area known as the “commonwealth,”53 of which the territory of Mauritius was a part. The particular mode of rupture that has been played out by the separation into two distinct groups known as “general population” and “ Indo–Mauritian” in the last century is based on a principle of unification which proceeds from the negation of the figure of the foreigner in the internal relations, so that the

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  25

symbolic violence of the state and the power could not be played elsewhere than on the ground of the private space where the social tie is elaborated and legitimised. Thus, the question of the origin became indifferent to the construction of the social body and that the ethnicity proceeded of the symbolic reversal of the plurality of the origins contained in the various religions. It is important to understand that any ethnic referent is the object of social practices and multiple arrangements that instruct a plural relationship to the other that authenticates and verifies it. This particular relationship mode implements the continuity of the social bond in the geographical discontinuity. We are far from the model of territorial and political integration of the slavery plantation society of the French administration. By dissolving itself in the English colonial system, the coloured world took on a new meaning corresponding to the economic, social, cultural and political cleavages that occurred during the sugar history and in the more recent context of soon 40 years of independence. While it is accepted that, despite community differences, there is a way of being and thinking about Mauritius, social differences cannot be understood as the pure product of identity strategies linked to racial or ethnic origin. The singularity of the Mauritian experience comes from the fact that ethnicity took, from the beginning, an economic form of surpassing the condition of slave and engaged, itself based on the appearance of differentiated forms of accumulation equivalent to class differences. That is why all the communities of the island carry within them the dimension of a plurality/ Creole (in the sense of miscegenation) at work in the structuring of the social bond. But it is not easy to objectify it, as the outside appearance is considered in this “society in view” (Arno & Orian, 1986).

The Mauritian society in the context of globalisation The Mauritian society which is mentioned throughout this book is a country of settlement born of immigration at the time of the global opening up of civilisations and cultures and placed at the conf luence of the colonial and maritime domination areas of the last French empires and English from the 18th to the 20th centuries. We can go as far as to say that the new model of Mauritian development under British colonisation created the conditions for local capitalist expansion after the Treaty of Paris in 1814. At that time, the dual commercial and financial function of English trading houses54 (trading houses of England) have been at the origin of the formation of the first local foreign banks (Lamusse, 1964). In this way, Britain extended its inf luence over the countries of the Empire; because it was located “at both ends of the migratory chain, India-Africa till South Scotland” (Yann Moulier Boutang, 1998: 407) because it reigned supreme over the oceans, it also extended its inf luence on the commercial and financial markets of the producing countries under its control. England had become the sole arbitrator of conf licts of interest in the world at the time of the official abolition of slavery in 1835. The abolition had become necessary to the process of Creolisation of slave societies in the world, in front of “the social

26  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

and cultural rise of blacks and mestizos and the weight of their numbers, which, as we have seen,” and already asked the question of which company could function with 10% of Whites, half of whom were absent” (Yann Moulier-Boutang, 1998: 401). This is why the conf lict of the “Creole world” and “Hindu world” can be considered a symptom of the social division that the state has itself established. The political fact and the colonial nature of society have been at the heart of the dualism of Mauritian society, which refers to the conf lictual relationship of empires that have divided the islands of the southwest Indian Ocean. By institutionalising the conf lict, the British State created one standard producing its necessary overtaking by permanent negotiation with the state. The exact content of the “oath of allegiance” to the British colony, to which the French notables who remained on the spot were subjected, engaged the society of the natives of the former Île-de-France to enter into a permanent dialectical relationship, uninterrupted with the Indian world which was established by the “negotiation” symbolised in the contract of employment. In contrast to what is most often said in literature (Eriksen), “Creole” and “Indian” worlds have not been exclusively in opposition to each other. The one cannot exist without the other, considering him legitimacy of the state that constituted them. The political structuring of Mauritian society was played out at the precise moment when the notion of censorship “general population” was definitively fixed and perpetuated when the statistical category “of Indo–Mauritians” was instituted to differentiate the old migrants from the new ones while linking the inhabitants to each other by the generalisation of the contract with regard to the state, true arbitrator of relationships among the powers in the colony. After this first phase of political and economic integration, capitalist development in the 20th century was dominated by competition from the markets, the Zone Franche (Free Zone) and the Commonwealth in the western Indian Ocean. And today’s globalisation is about the need to transcend colonial frontiers through the institutionalisation of the free zones of industrial development through which two forms of expanded capital development are established according to the lines of force of global, Western and Asian networks. “At the time of the more or less complete divorce of the metropolises with their empire, of a liberal strategy aimed at making industrial production the essential basis of expansion and a form of metropolitan decentralization” (Marseille, 1984). It is useful to review most of the analyses dealing with the effects of colonisation since the national independence acquired in 1968, some ten years after that of the African countries and Madagascar. These studies have not sufficiently underlined the expansionist nature nor characterised the differentiated forms of capitalism that have developed in these “islands at the end of the world,” on the periphery of world markets. The former plantation economies, especially that of Mauritius, have always played according to the rules of the competing colonial markets to extend their inf luence beyond the well-established borders of the “zone franche” area and the “commonwealth” in the Indian Ocean. This fact

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  27

explains the multi-location of trading companies for which there was no preferential market, at most additional administrative or financial constraints to satisfy the needs of long-distance trade. Since independence, with the development of nationalism and the disappearance of the development model opposed to the market economy,55 we have reached a more complete stage of capitalist expansion which knows no bounds. Is contemporary globalisation an opportunity for Mauritius to take a sort of “revenge for insularity” by transforming “1970s trade openness into an instrument of modernisation?” (Adda, 1998: 1/42). With the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Mauritius has become one of the privileged places of capitalist expansion, where new spaces of intermediate accumulation operate, especially the off-shore markets which are places of interstitial multipolarity compared to the nerve centres of financial capital. Economies of scale, the benefits of comparative costs are no longer the only tools for producing monetary gains since the advent of information, communication and technology. The Mauritian rulers and businessmen have fully understood this by taking a step ahead of these new media spaces that tend to supplant what “power has received from transcendence, sacredness and history”.56 Conquering one’s place in the race for development requires for this small country to permanently have strong investment capacities and to be credited by the financial organisations to obtain them. It also means seizing before other countries the new powers of the world concentrated in the fields of technology, computer science and communication. By grabbing the tools of “globalising modernity,”57 settlements like Mauritius are returning to the barycentre function of the exchanges they had at the time of the incomplete closure of the colonial markets, such as before Madagascar became a French colony. Mauritius is one of those islands on the periphery of the world able, like Singapore,58 to become again a crossroads, a nerve centre, a functional space sought after in globalisation. After having been a pool of employment, Mauritius has become a hub of the trio-participation of the international economic space – Europe, Africa, Asia. What differs today from the time of the 18th century trading is the mobility of all markets – capital, men and goods – which was not the case at the time of the companies of India. Mauritius, considered to be “the star and key” of the western Indian Ocean, has the same global vocation that it once had with different stakes. Its global vocation is symbolised by the image of stamps published in 1895– 1897 (see Figure 1.4) corresponding to the sugar development of the early 20th century and the opening of the country during the years preceding national independence and followed immediately after. The four founding symbols of the colony located in the heart of the western Indian Ocean are present: the drawing of the star on the lower right quarter of the stamp published in 1895–1897 recalls the past centrifugal position of Port Louis “the star of the Indian Ocean”59 and the key on the left symbolises the same relationship, centripetal this time, relative to the distribution of the markets of the time and era.

28  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

Emblematic representations of Mauritius The four correlations of images by cross/parallel relations, right/left, up/down, are the boat and the men on the one hand, the star and the key on the other hand. The star refers to the maritime navigation60 as the key to the migration of the men61 and the merchant networks to the migratory networks.62

FIGURE 1.4 The

emblematic representations of Mauritius, 1895–1897.

FIGURE 1.5 The

emblematic representations of Mauritius, 1967.

FIGURE 1.6 The

emblematic representations of Mauritius, 1969.

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  29

These same symbols are used again in 1967 (Figure 1.5) and 1969 (Figure 1.6) because they are associated with the process of establishing independence by England. In 1967, Her Majesty the Queen of England is drawn in the background to the right of the stamp, but insensitive change in 1969, the crown is absent from the Queen’s medallion while she was present in 1967, year of preparation for the independence. The drawings in the centre of these stamps of 1967 and 1969 refer, first, to the borderless territoriality of the island (the bird), the second appearing the fish marks the advent of a strict territoriality conferred by the national sovereignty acquired one year earlier in 1968. These symbols of the emergence of the independent state have as their object, today as yesterday, the relation sea/continent on which depended the economic success and the capacity of the island to conquer the world markets63 emerging from colonisation and in the current context of the globalisation of all markets – men, products, capital, land and labour. The movement towards independence placed importance on migration, which two political strategies opposed. The political leader of the Social Democratic Mauritian Party “PMSD” Gaetan Duval64 who, without a real migration policy, was in favour of an immigration towards the countries of South Africa and Australia on the one hand of the England and France on the other hand (Dinan, 1985). The Labour Party “PTR,” the leader of which was the first Prime Minister of National Independence Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam – most often considered the “father of the Mauritian nation,” – considered the situation diagnosis of the experts of the era that proposed the development of a free zone industrial sector (Titmuss & Meade, 1961). The PTR/PMSD government alliance has oriented the country’s economy towards the maintenance of unskilled labour on the spot, its employment in the new industrial development sectors, the jewellery industry and the textile industry in the free zone subject to legislation particularly favourable to foreign industrial investments. Despite this, migration to European countries has not stopped. Many textile industries settled, initially in Port Louis, then in all the small towns and the smallest villages, to touch the workforce, largely female, which thus found to be used near the places of residence of this workforce. The unemployment rate of nearly 21% in 1963 fell to 2% in 1991. But the Mauritian “economic miracle,” hailed since the 1980s by international observers throughout the first phase of development of free zones until the 1990s, is no longer what it was because the country has entered since 1995 in the second phase of its development. “After imitation, export industrialisation, competition with developed countries begins in phase 2” (Nicolai, 1998). Diversification through textiles, jewellery and tourism has been added to the “off-shore” financial market and high-tech industries. The restructuring and modernisation of the sugar industry and textiles continued, the tourism sector has expanded, and the development of the high-tech sector is an initiative of the state of Mauritius associated mainly with Indian capital. New investors from the Republic of China, the Tian Li Company, for example, are taking their place today in the sector of the devastated textile industry. Thus, in the north to

30  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

Richelieu this company has planned to invest two billion rupees for the creation of high-tech industries. In return, the government expects the creation of many jobs65 for unemployed workers who have been sacked of sugar and textiles. Therefore, he requisitioned 200 acres of land belonging to about 50 small planters for a fixed compensation deemed insufficient of 200,000 Rupees/acre. This Investment Resort Scheme (IRS) is the subject of an injunction with the Court of Justice filed by the Mauritius Planters Association (MPA).66 At the time of the revision of the Sugar Protocol by the European Union, competition and unemployment have increased. The price of sugar has decreased possibly about 35% in 2006, possibly about 45% in 2007, which is considerable when we know the social consequences of the textile crisis that has been raging since 2005. The unemployment rate almost nil in 1990, rose to 8% in 2000 as a result of mass redundancies in the sugar industry as a result of the mergers and restructurings of companies, of which only five plants are expected to survive in the future. In 2007, nine factories were still running.67 Representatives of the Association of Mauritian Sugar Producers (MSPA),68 the government, unions and cooperatives are developing new strategies for modernising the economy. The textile industry has followed the same movement of redundancies since the year 2000. However, unlike the sugar wage earners, employers in the textile industry, employing a mainly female workforce, have often been dismissed without compensation and without a social plan negotiated by companies with the workers. However, we learn that the hopes of the sugar workers who had agreed to leave the company in return for an agreement between the government, industry and unions called Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) are not yet satisfied.69 In this context of opening up the national economy, Mauritian sugar production has been restructured and extended by the purchase of sugar companies abroad in African countries and the textile industry has relocated to Madagascar. At the same time, part of the textile industry in Mauritius’s free zone has closed, new plants that have integrated technical innovation into their production system have opened. New investors came from India and more recently from China70 by importing part of their workforce. New areas of employment are being sought in India, Thailand, Madagascar, etc. The labour market is collapsing due to the combined effect of the sugar restructuring, which has led to many redundancies as a result of the development of the high-tech textile industry, while the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industries– newly created – face the insufficiency of a qualified workforce on the spot. The imbalance in the labour market’s supply and demand is deepening. On the one hand, we have unskilled labour that is too expensive and, on the other hand, a shortage of qualified local labour. It will take several generations of students to make up for this delay in higher education in ICT.71 The advance of Mauritius in the field of high technology could then benefit other countries that will have invested later but whose labour market is better prepared and adapted to the needs of qualified jobs on site. For this reason, successive governments are striving to modernise the education system and focus their training efforts on the physical, chemical and mathematical sciences, agronomy,

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  31

computer science, management and learning of languages required for the qualifications required by the employment sectors. The Mauritian social landscape has, therefore, considerably changed with the total opening of its economy to the world. The situation facing the country is a challenge to all professional situations. Economic actors as different as the big planters and the small planters, the traders on the local market, the businessmen, or the personnel of the sugar industry, from the “labourer” to the highest executives, the craftsmen and even employees of the small administrations, all are affected in their living and working conditions that change and evolve quickly. Mobility is again experienced as an essential factor of development: “one does not emigrate anymore, but one immigrates” 72 (Widmer & Chazan, 2001).

Notes 1 The surface of the island is 2,040 km 2 for a number of 1,230,000 inhabitants. The population density is 603 inhabitants per km 2. 2 The status of Diego-Garcia Island is disputed by the Government of Mauritius, which considers it an integral part of its national territory. 3 This is equivalent of a regional administration. 4 We have also used this expression. 5 The term “class” is often enclosed in quotation marks, to mark the fact that we use the term in the weak sense and because we have no other term to say, that the economic factors of emergence or social stagnation are determining social groups detached from the countryside and living in the cities with wages requiring the research of several activities to balance the budgets of the families. 6 A large extinct f lightless bird with a stout body, stumpy wings, a large head, and a heavy hooked bill. It was found in Mauritius until the end of the 17th century. 7 Many texts in Old Dutch have been translated recently, by Sitradeven Panyendee, who was part of the research programme of the IRD in association with the MGI, under the direction of Suzanne Chazan-Gillig. 8 Muslin Jumeer’s historical approach was very different from that of Guy Rouillard. The first was devoted to reconstructing the history of the freedmen and Indians from 1721 to 1830, on the Yoloff camp of Port Louis, in particular. The second, Guy Rouillard reconstructed the history of sugar mills from the counting of notarial records existing in the Archives of Mauritius. 9 Our research on the development of Indo-Mauritian popular cults deals with the history of Mauritius prior to the sugar boom of the 1850s, which was traversed by important events such as the official liberation of slaves (1835) the “ petit morcellement ” of land (1839-1849) followed by the “grand morcellement” (1860). We cannot name all the authors who worked on the reconstruction of this history of Mauritius. Those to whom we refer are numerous. We relied on many works like those of Guy Rouillard, Raymond of Unionville, Noel Regnard, Antoine Chelin, Alfred North-Coombs, Philippe Koenig. We have also exploited the collection of archival documents brought together by Charles Doyen whose inventory and documents are in the library of the “Royal Society of History of Mauritius” to which many authors have resorted, and finally, archival documents collected by Octave Béchet on the founding period of the “pioneers of the isle de France” (Béchet, 1992), and the works of Albert and Tomy Pitot. 10 The royal administration covered the period from 1764 to 1792. 11 According to the denomination of the time. 12 In weak sense, we could have said community or group but the community would have indicated a form of integration and identity that has been affirmed only with sugar development. The notion of group would tend to f latten various European

32  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

origins of the residents of the colony, coming from different ports of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. 13 The official abolition of slavery dates 1 February 1835. It was followed by a four-year apprenticeship period. (Atlas of Mauritius, 1997: 1). On the Réunion island, the abolition was even later. 14 Colony. These are the natives of the island. 15 We emphasise things, in principle only. It suffices to observe the distribution of colours in families called “mulattoes” to realise that the law of genetic transmission results in the existence of brothers and sisters of the same father and the same mother, some virtually white the other mixed-race, the third perhaps even darker skinned. These biological laws make the white/black distinction among Métis families not the same for everyone. Sometimes brothers and sisters of the opposite colour have very different relations with the white world. As in Reunion Island, there have been money laundering strategies for families who have achieved an enviable economic level. 16 Contractual labour. Marxist theory highlights the reserve function of the hired labour that has developed with industrial capitalism. The immigrant workers on the sugar plantations had similar working conditions, because of the harshness of the exploitation to those of the workers of the suburbs of London at the same time. Like the latter at the time of the development of the metallurgy, they served the cause of the financial interests engaged in the nascent sugar industry. 17 Above, the copy of the contract signed by the immigrants in the Bengali language and the copy of the article from the Cernéen of 1834 in Mauritius Archives (MA) RA Series. 18 This inauguration in 1984 of the monument of the arrival of the first Indian immigrants to Mauritius has been challenged by the Tamil community because 1834 is the year of the arrival of the first coolies 150 years ago. In reality, the arrival of the first Indians, mostly Tamils during the French colonisation period, dated from 1734. That is why the Tamil community will erect another stele in 1986 in Rose Hill in memory of 250 years of their presence in Mauritius that is to say one hundred years before the arrival of the first coolies that have been in Mauritius for 150 years. See Chapter 2. 19 Statistical category of population since 1847, we will come back to it. 20 We use the term of people of colour always written in italics but without quotation marks to indicate difference the “mulattoes” and the “Creoles,” terms always written with quotation marks or in roman writing. All this to differentiate these notions – which have a precise meaning in Mauritian society when they are used in everyday language – constitutional categories whose history we reconstruct the history of their appearance and their disappearance. The constitutional categories are always written in italics and in quotation marks. 21 This specialisation which marked the migrations of departure is no longer the exclusive mode of differentiation of these two social groups, as the information from the survey on the theme “migration, trade, plantation/industrialisation” has demonstrated which was produced under contract by the MGI and the IRD under the supervision of Suzanne Chazan-Gillig. 22 A record unemployment rate of 21% was reached in 1963. 23 Isabelle Widmer. See bibliography. The book presents the results of five years of research obtained for the final submission of a thesis. The author has, meanwhile, completed the statistical diagrams incorporating the results of the last census 2000. Therefore, these figures differ from other assessments of the population of Mauritius. These are currently the most reliable figures given the critical approach adopted by I. Widmer on the reliability of national statistics. 24 We will study the historical symbolism that is to say, the politics of the recent construction at Le Morne of a memorial in memory of slavery as well as the renovation of the buildings located in Port Louis, Apravassi Ghat in memory of the landing place

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  33

and the distribution of the coolies upon their arrival in Mauritius for a renewable fiveyear contract. 25 Lectures delivered by Michel Foucault at Sorbonne Il faut défendre la société. Gallimard, 1997. 26 Terms never used in censuses that correspond to the distinction of people “free of color” and former slaves “emancipated” classification categories used at the time of French colonisation. 27 Richard Allen (pp. 100–103) distinguished two periods of land speculation that have a very different economic meaning in terms of local capital accumulation. The “small fragmentation” highlights “domestic accumulation” (p. 100) carried out by people of colour. He illustrated the many opportunities that people of colour could seize in the early 19th century to buy land and slaves under British colonisation. He presented the situations of Baptiste Sébelin (1816), Victorine Demay (1819), Henriette Jouan, Francoise Fanon (1808, 1812, 1819), Monimes (1794–1814), and the Roux family (1800 and 1811). Following pages, 101–102, new examples of larger-area land acquisitions are presented to conclude on page 103 that other sources confirm that there is relative well-being of the “free-colour” population. “Other sources confirm the existence of a relatively well-to-do free colored elite by the mid-1820s.” The note accompanying this conclusion refers to the “report of the committee on the subject of the emancipated population in the colony of June 1847.” 28 In the sense of economic and social emergence. 29 The transport of Indian workers hired to work as labourers on sugar factories in Mauritius. 30 Social Creolisation is a concept with social, political and economic content, designating the differentiated groups of people, people of colour, the “general population” and the “Indians” of different origins (if we take for reference the statistical categories) and not as certain authors a group determined by reference exclusively to its culture, to its religion regardless of their differential political and economic positions during the development of the sugar economy. 31 Richard Allen says that in 1806, people of colour had 6% of the inventoried land of the colony and that in 1825, they controlled a very large percentage also had 20 to 25% of slaves. 32 The Z2D series is a list of ship arrivals including passenger names that can be found in the archives of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute. (MGI). 33 Mauritius, Reunion and Madagascar. 34 “The author was stockbroker of the colony under Governor Decaen, a position he retained under the 1st Governor Farquhar.” (D.B.M. 1948: 675–676). Subsequently, he joined the colonial committee alongside Adrien d’Epinay. As such he was a supporter of the anti-slavery cause. “The stocker castigated … all these foolish people to exchange their houses, their lands and their blacks for a currency.” 35 After the two periods of Farquhar government (1810–1817 and 1820–1823). 36 We will develop this point in the next section. 37 Richard Allen has highlighted the access to the property of the lands put up for sale by the concessionaires he designates as the “small fragmentation” (P. 100). He illustrated the many opportunities that people of colour could seize in the late 18th and early 19th century to buy land and slaves. He, thus, showed the share taken by the intermediate “domestic accumulation” but necessary for the development of the local sugar capital. 38 Richard Allen in an article in press specifies that the “small fragmentation” began in 1839, it was amplified in 1841–1842 to decrease from 1847. In 1850, the process was extinguished, declares the author who worked on the acts of mutation of these lands sold by the concessionaires to the former slaves of the colony and the people of colour. Richard Allen says it was a deliberate strategy, “a calculated response from the owners of the colony to maintain their standard of living by capitalising the only thing they had control of.”

34  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

39 In press Passing through a perilous transition: Capital, Labour and the transformation of the Mauritian colony, 1810–1860. “As early as 1812, four-fifths of the island’s landed proprietors were reported in debt, while one-half of these individuals were expected never to be able to repay their loans because high interest rates doubled the amount of money they owned every three years.” 40 We owe to Richard Allen the detailed analyses of the two key periods of land redistribution that took place at the beginning of sugar development, the “small fragmentation” and, ten years later, following the sugar boom of the 1850s “large fragmentation.” 41 Similar in importance to the contemporary redistribution of the Mauritian land market since the closure of large sugar companies, especially the Lonroe. 42 The terms in italics, did not refer to the statistical categories of the population but is part of the research problematic of Richard Allen. Cf. citation mentioned. 43 We have reconstructed the history of the oldest mill Petite Victoria which was the base of the social organisation of the village of Trou d’Eau Douce whose agricultural land extends in the background of the road along the coast where are the houses and shops of the residents. This story is exemplary and revealing of the mechanisms of social resetting. The last owner of the long-standing closed mill was a native Indian from the area who farmed on the remaining undivided land. He ended up breaking up the land and selling in the years 1990–1995 the ruins of the mill and the nearby land he still owned. This old mill has been rehabilitated by a talented architect who has restored the ancient ruins. It is too long to dwell on the birth and development of the village of Trou d’Eau Douce and surrounding villages, although this story is quite exemplary of the process of segmentation and social integration related to sugar development over the long duration. 44 We will see in Chapter 2 the meaning of the caste and the way in which it has been re-organised in Mauritius with respect to India. 45 The most appropriate term should be Mauritian of French origin. But in Mauritius, they define themselves as “Franco–Mauritians,” Indo–Mauritians.” That is why we kept the current terms of designation. The same is true for the Creole term for Mauritians who were formerly slaves by contrast with mulattoes, who are generally whiter in skin and thus claim their white European descent. 46 It is a solidarity of mutual interests limited to periods of economic difficulties – climate, external market, availability of labour power – which have had direct consequences on the land and financial markets where they were exercising significant speculative practices that some economic players have been able to take advantage of, first and foremost the notaries who managed the property holdings of their customers, the banking organisations and the trading companies that made advances for cutting etc. There was a real counter-dependence of the capital-labour ratio as it was observed with regard to certain resounding bankruptcies such as that of the Queen Victoria sugar company before it was concentrated, partly on FUEL, partly on Beauchamps. 47 We speak of “free people of colour” and former slaves and Indian immigrants. There were many called and few elected among those who ventured into sugar development. The bankruptcy of some has often made the success of others. 48 We said “there were margins of freedom and autonomy for workers contracted plantations, in situations of crisis of production, insufficient supplies of food.... The work force was indirectly controlled... The social relations were applied very early to the community stake they were carrying.” 49 The popular worship of Père Laval, represented by small altars dedicated to saints or to the Virgin Mary according to the belief of the local residents is diffused throughout the island as are the kalimais. A comparison of the current practice of this cult about which is celebrated the annual pilgrimage to the anniversary of the death of Père Laval would be interesting to make. We will discuss this issue in the next chapter. 50 The preferential marriage rules were instituted very early, generating caste differences. More than an identity of origin of India, the caste difference is a social-historical

Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society  35

reality built on the place of immigration. Most ethnic minorities such as Telugus, Marathis and Tamils are organised in high and low castes. Caste is a kind of extrapolation of family/ethnic identity. This is why caste and ethnic difference are the basis of electoral strategies, as we will see in our study. 51 In the slave system, it is the direct and personalised master/slave relationship that is at the origin of the economic and social emergence of those who have been emancipated by their masters. 52 During these years, each census was the occasion of a readjustment of the census categories representative of the social distinctions. 53 The British colonial strategy could not be different because it was inspired by its island experience distinct from that of continental European countries. Their model of capitalist expansion has been centred on the control of world markets rather than on territorial centrality. 54 Maurice Paturau points out the importance of the role of Ireland Blyth Limited (IBL) in the moralisation of compensation practices, as the main institution responsible for organising the distribution of compensation to slave owners. 55 Fall of the Berlin Wall. 56 A book published in 1980, the third edition of which is extended by a new chapter devoted to the rush of theatrocracy in recent decades and comments in the form of “para-notes.” Fayard. 2006. 57 Concept developed by Georges Balandier in his recent works on these new areas of domination that are technology, computer and information: “Power on stage” and “Le grand dérangement” Cf. Bibliography. 58 Like Singapore, whose development model is however not comparable. Unlike Singapore, Mauritius is geographically distant from world markets. The comparison is, however ,useful when one compares the trajectories of the one and the other country whose markets have become partly complementary at the time of the opening of the free zone of industrial development of Mauritius and the development of the at the same time in Singapore. See the article by (ChazanGillig & Widmer, 2001) on “the general extension of markets and migratory circulation.” See Bibliography. 59 Expression used to characterise the port of Port Louis at the time of the great trading. This recurrent image is still attached to him. 60 The star on the ¼ lower right of the stamp and the boat on the upper ¼ to the left of the stamp. 61 The ¼ lower left and the ¼ upper right. 62 The ¼ upper left and right: the boat and the men. 63 National independence is also the gradual opening of the franc zone and the Commonwealth. 64 Former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the first government in 1968, now deceased. 65 It is planned to create 5,000 jobs, but only Chinese immigrants with a contract of employment will be employed in the textile factory. 66 The union of small planters Mauritius Planters Association (MPA) has been challenging the legitimacy of the process of requisitioning land from long-established, smallscale farmers on their traditionally acquired inheritance lands. Most of these lands are governed by the 1948 Act. 67 Nine factories are still rolling: FUEL, Medina, Savanna, Saint-Aubin, Deep-RiverBeau champs, Mon Desert-Alma, Mont-Desert/Mon Trésore, Riche-en-Eau and Mount Loisir. The last four cited were closed after the 2007 Cup. 68 Mauritius Sugar Producers Association (MSPA). 69 See the “New Deal.” 70 The closure of the Choisy sugar company where it is planned to set up a high-tech textile industry on FUEL’s sugar-free heritage lands. It is still 30,000 employees of the sugar industry who will be reduced to unemployment, where early retirement.

36  Genesis of Mauritian multicultural society

71 Mauritius is a country subject to constant observation by international experts or journalists. This is why the number of figures, supposed to measure the state of health of its economy, are so numerous on the Internet that we manage to publish secondhand articles pretending to predict the future of the Mauritian development. Such writings are to be taken as one of the forms of competition suffered by the Mauritian market which has a certain advance on other countries in the field of ICT. The question posed in these articles is reduced to few things: Mauritius, whose social problems of labour are known (rising unemployment rate and appearance since 1990 of an immigration rate) will be, does it sustainably competitive with other countries with cheaper and more efficient labour costs? We must not underestimate the competitiveness problems to be solved but not over-determine them. 72 There is now an informal and formal migration of workers from Asian countries. This reality was already apparent at the statistical and accounting level in 1995.


The study of religious and cultural transformations, the work of the retroactive interpretation of the research and some events that have been organised here and there facilitated the researchers to easily formulate the hypothesis of this empirical study. This chapter explores the ways in which small anecdotes told by local interviewees during our field investigation framed the very core of the study and also the final draft of the book. In the process of 15 years of qualitative search, six years were devoted to intensive fieldwork and the remaining were dedicated to the follow-up of the work – which was regularly organised by the organisations on the spot – and it was through continuous and constant relations between the local and foreign researchers that the themes of the popular cults and the sacred Hindu religion evolved, keeping in mind the aspect of globalisation. It also demonstrates how the emergence of memorial sites in the public space and the installation of small statues of gods and goddesses have been carried out by unknown private organisations on public beaches (crown land). That is why this study of Mauritian Hinduism focuses on that the relationship of religion with globalisation and the role of the state in this process. To gain a general understanding of social and economic, the religious and the political, we initially thought to deal with the popular cults – whether they are Hindus and like to pray at kalimai or Christians who like to worship Père Laval in which those who participate are, mainly, the Catholic Mauritians.1 In these two types of worship, we observed the existence of profound changes that continued throughout the duration of the investigations.2 It was as if significant changes in the political and economic realm had their modifications at the religious and cultural levels. Given the complexity of the changes and the importance of historical and field data, we had to limit our work to Hindu popular cults. For the comparison of Christian popular cults with Indian cults necessitated starting from data comparable to those collected on the Kali3 cults. For the DOI: 10.4324/9781003298106-3

38  Religious and cultural transformations

same reasons, we did not work with Indians of Muslim faith. Finally, the cults and religions studied in this book only concern a part of the Mauritian population – Indians of Hindu religion – in the context of industrial diversification and market generalisation that we brief ly mentioned in the previous chapter. We have discussed kalimai cults in all their dimensions, such as the transition to scholarly religion and their interaction with Indian sub-groups from different regions: Tamils of South India, Telugus from Andra Pradesh who practice cults whose organisation and the symbolic meaning in relation to the deities of the temples are comparable. This is the case with the Telugu amourou cult in the ceremony of the same name – which is analysed later – and the development of new Tamil temples like those of Mahébourg or those described and analysed in Chapter 4. By comparing the investigation of the situations, the differences of worship, the sites of kalimais in abeyance or in the process of becoming temples, the kalimais being renovated, and the rituals we can affirm that, behind any transformation of kalimai cults, or ceremonies celebrated in honour of Kali or goddesses Durga, Mariamen, Amourou and, even more clearly, the accession of Hanuman to the rank of superior deities, behind these changes,4 there is an ongoing inter-culturality in Indian society. We started with the assumption that the transformation of the Mauritian society should be able to be read within the symbolic domain, the importance of the religions in the history while reconstructing, from archive data, the economic and political changes that have gone through the sugar development in relation to which the social process of family construction and caste differentiation has been played out with regard to the various origins of immigrants of India. The articulation of the economic order with the religious and cultural order required to make a return on the history of the long duration by which the founding rules of the Indo-Mauritian society settled in its first differentiations. The main stages of Mauritian sugar development, as we shall see in the following chapters, have been the framework for fixing established social differences: community, ethnic, caste or class. We, thus, hope to make intelligible the signs and values of the Hindu religion, generally little known and different from Western Christian religions in that it has no universal referent in relation to the local context. To give a very rough idea of the difference of Western religions with the Hindu religion, one must grasp the symbolic importance of the cosmic statues found in all Tamil temples on an altar placed at the entrance of the temple. They represent the symbolic model of power, of the galactic type that structures human relationships in the Indo-Mauritian society, multipolar by nature and composed of people from Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Andhra/Telangana and Maharashtra in Mauritius, without any reference to be made to some centrality. There is nothing like it in Christian religions that refer to a superior unity that is the foundation of a single hierarchy of values that structures the whole. For example, in Figure 2.1, number nine is used on the altar of the Tamil temple of high castes in a renovation called Kovil Soopramanian5 of Saint Julien d’Hotman, which is composed of nine planets represented by nine divinities each having a particular symbolic efficiency and their followers.

Religious and cultural transformations  39

FIGURE 2.1 The altar of the nine stars/divinities of the planet representing the universe.

Their identities, Suryan (Sun), Chandran (Moon), Mangal (Mars), Bhud (Mercury), Guru ( Jupiter), Shuskran (Venus), Sunny (Saturn),6 Rahu and Ketu (malevolent deities) are the same in all temples whether they are of low or high castes. This cosmic system of deities/planets is prayed to before approaching the upper deities of the temple, the couples of Shiva/Parvati, Ganesh/Murugan and Krishna. This is the “modern” symbolic equivalent of the spatial ordering of the tutelary deities distributed in the space of kalimais whose place with respect to the altar of Kali is fixed by the traditions and the songs which relate to these same deities.7 Some represent the forces of good (right) and others those of evil (left) in a constant relationship established by each deity who turns on itself around the sun. This modernist symbolic translation of religion in today’s Tamil temples implies a new relationship with the divine order based on male power whereas in the kalimai the distinction up/down is projected on a female order – the seven sisters – placed on a raised altar while male tutelary deities are distributed in space and represented indifferently by round stones, trees, f lowers, plants or on a cement base when they are custodians of the place. This symbolic reversal of the very recent gender relations between men and women instructs knowledge at the forefront of inequalities in rituals to the detriment of the oral tradition by which new relationships are perpetuated in the community of the faithful: two types of priests often still officiate in the cults, the pujari who received his knowledge from the sacred books and practice divination and the dewassia8 whose knowledge is the initiation within the families. This general aspect of the current changes is raised to say that geography, the architecture of places of worship and religious practices are absolutely crucial in order to identify what in family relationships is truly changing and what remains in gender relations, caste relations, ethnic differences and finally what meaning to be given to the types of offerings and sacrifices practised. We will take care to guide the reader step-by-step, giving him in turn a precise description of the places of worship through the photographs taken at

40  Religious and cultural transformations

different periods of the investigation, the description and the history of the establishment of places of worship and how they are managed, according to the information that emerges from the collective or individual interviews conducted. The reader will not be surprised that particular emphasis is placed on describing in the second part the differential organisation of the kalimai space studied in the different regions of the island, whether they are being renovated, endangered or even if they fit perfectly into the building space of new temples. These seemingly innocuous levels of observation led to the understanding, from within, of the segmentation processes of families, once grouped together in one place, today dispersed with living and working conditions in full disruption. The dual genetic and structural approach to places of worship has made it possible to identify the nature of the problems posed by the followers of this or that deity when they make their offerings or when they organise a puja sacrifice. Finally, the purpose of this book is to show how the Hindu religion imported from India to Mauritius contributed to shaping an Indian community identity and to producing differences, not only because of the geographical origins of various groups which compose it but also because of the experience of the daily life of the camps where intercommunal intercourse and caste relations were built. On the surface of religious practices, we took into consideration the sugar history and the different successive waves of colonisation, the French first and then English, which left their print on the institutions of the state whose role was to orchestrate the differences rather than producing them by intervening as little as possible in the past inequalities of the former Ile-de-France.9 We will see that the symbolic changes of the religion have something to do with an increasingly bigger gap existing between the official categories based on a tax qualification classification which is not well adjusted any more to the contemporary conditions of life and work as they were able to be at the beginning of the 20th century. We will see that the social fragmentation that has occurred in cultural associations and federations is nowhere registered as such, just like the recent electoral results of the years 2000 and 2005 where we no longer find the 60/0 recorded in every electoral campaign organised since 1967, the date of the first national elections until 1995. All these religious, demographic/statistical and electoral changes, as well as the new land situations resulting from the restructuring of sugar and textiles, must be placed in the current context of changes linked to globalisation.

Historical forms of symbolism And, it is once again the news10 that will give us the opportunity to open the debate on the issue of the relationship of the religious (Hinduism) with the new world order, whose effects are felt directly in Mauritius as it has entered the big leagues of international capitalism, so that we can now see an acceleration in the search for an appropriate discourse for the national expression. After a short period of staging in the public space of a memory struggle peculiar to the Indo-Mauritian community in the 1980s,11 we arrived at a new stage of building a memory by reference

Religious and cultural transformations  41

to the real history of the domination of empires and migrations. Indeed, the only possibility of producing a new identity discourse useful to the national representation is to reposition itself in the international arena, of which Mauritius, like all the “sugar island” plantation economies, is the historical product of successive periods of migration. That is why the forgotten periods of official history relating to the movements of the labour force, slavery and wage labour, generate clear ideologies in the search for plural identities to face the opening of markets. In the public domain as in the religious field, we are witnessing the same bidding of values production of new symbols, revisited slices of history of memory struggles to which we must try to make sense. We therefore open the debate on the relationship between religious and the economic and political, beginning with the end, showing that the public space is as invested as the religious space, the one or the other expressing the same thing. Namely, the processes of social segmentation that society is currently experiencing as a result of mergers and restructurings of all kinds, bring up to date the debates of identities among which those lost identities are forced to meet the need to reposition themselves in the imposed global in order its effects appear natural.

The memorials of the 1980s: Phuliar and Rose Hill Since 1984, memorials have been built bearing the memory of ancestors who have paved the way for local rooting. On this occasion, the claim of autonomy of Tamils from South India, of Tamil and non-Hindi language, of rite centred on Muruga(n) and not around Shiva, vis-à-vis the Hindu from northern India so-called Biharis, manifested itself. Indeed, they considered that if the Indian community identified by the practice of the Hindu religion gives visibility to Indian migrations, this does not justify that the history of these Indian migrations be considered as limited to the period of arrival of the first coolies (see Figure 2.2) during which it is the group originating in Bihari who mainly came to Mauritius, the other groups represented, Tamils, Telugus and Marathis, either arrived a century earlier or were in smaller numbers. If the Indian minority groups, whatever their geographical origins in India, their languages and their rites, were considered constitutionally as Hindus, the political prevalence of the Biharis did not become established until independence,12 which gave them more national representation than others. This juridical–political integration of the Indian community, although convenient in the aftermath of the ethnic struggles that took place in January 1968, does not mean in any way a unique Hindu collective identity because every Mauritian, whether “Indo-Mauritian” or from the “general population” is well aware of the exact levels of social integration linked to their origins, living conditions and working conditions. Evidenced by the recent creation of any cultural centre to represent the plurality of minorities at work politically speaking, not to mention the Mauritian Cultural Centre that no longer functions today. The game of minorities has little need for a centre that is supposed to integrate differences, because the constitutional game as practised by the Indians is a place of constant overcoming ethnic and caste boundaries

42  Religious and cultural transformations

according to the circumstances. The protected designations of “general population” and “Indians” are, in fact, only a useful artifice for all possible political arrangements of constitutional divisions reviewed and corrected by cultural traditions. To this end, let us recall the Tamil protests at the value on the new bank notes in 1998. They presented the translation of the written value of the notes in English first, then in French, then in Hindi and finally in Tamil.13 Previously it was the Tamil language that first recorded the value of the bank-note, then the Hindi because of the chronology of the arrival of the first Indians to the Ile-deFrance. The community protested to demand the maintenance of the place of languages as it was originally given on the notes. They were simply withdrawn from circulation as a result of this challenge despite the considerable cost of the operation. One does not joke with the precedence that history confers. History is as political and instrumentalised as religion, generally speaking, in Mauritius.​

FIGURE 2.2 Commemorative

stele of the arrival of the first coolies.

It is, therefore, normal to seek a retroactive meaning to the construction, since 1984, of memorial steles in memory of the “forgotten ones by history” whatever their origins. Each new building is a digest of separate stories that must be part of the great official history of Mauritius so that the real historical differences of society are considered in the national representation of the various communities. In a general way, the places of edification of the commemorative steles bear a first historical meaning equivalent to the values of foundation and local rooting. Creoles, Tamils, Biharis and the entire Hindu community have come together in associations to prepare and follow the steps of the erection of contemporary places of memory. The most recent ones being the renovation of the Apravassi Ghat building (see Figure 2.6) in Port Louis and its immediate environment, on the place of coolies formerly called Coolie Ghat, now Apravassi Ghat – the Hindi term meaning Indian immigration – and the place of memory of the Creole population represented by the mountain Morne Brabant (see Figure 2.7) on a tourist site of prime importance overlooking the sea, in memory of slavery. A first a monument was erected in 1985 on the property called Antoinette where the first coolies were distributed and a second was established in 1986 in Rose

Religious and cultural transformations  43

Hill, officially, because there is no trace left other than the cemetery of the former camp Wolof located in the west of Port Louis where the first Tamil craftsmen and traders actually resided. This succession of buildings in the public space within yearly intervals has staged the internal divide in the northern Indian world compared to Tamils from southern India, partly during the French era of colonisation under the governorship Mahé Labourdonnais as tradesmen or free artisans, partly with the North Indians as the Biharis, Telugus, Marathis who came with a contract of employment for a first term of five renewable years. This cleavage between the North and South Indians was symbolically manifested when the government wanted to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first Indians14 in Mauritius and erected a monument in their memory on the soil of Mauritius. The Tamils then recalled, as they would do three years later for the new banknotes put into circulation, that they themselves came from southern India well before the “coolie-trade” in 1734, and that it was important to distinguish the arrival of the first Indians, some 250 years ago, in the French colonisation era, from the arrival of the first coolies in 1834 after the official abolition of slavery. The contradiction, thus, expressed in the public space was as much political as religious/ethnic. The choice to install the stele of the arrival of the first Indians in Rose Hill preferably instead of the old camp of Malabars become the suburb of Plaine Verte in Port Louis where resided the “first Indians,” Tamils and Muslims ( Jumeer, 1984)15, was doubly political. Indeed, the town Hall of Beau Bassin/ Rose Hill16 to do this had to grant an urban land to install the monument near the Town Hall. This procedure, in principle cumbersome to achieve, was even faster as the elected Mayor was Tamil and adherent of the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM). ​

FIGURE 2.3 Commemorative

monument of the arrival of the first Tamils in Mauritius.

44  Religious and cultural transformations

As such, Rose Hill is one of the municipalities that was one of the places of emergence of the first political leaders of the MMM party founded in 1970, largely supported by Tamil voters who, since the elections of 1976, have been able to place several times a Tamil candidate at the National Assembly.17 The monument erected at Rose Hill in the presence of the same minister of culture who had officiated the ceremony of the erection of the first memorial monument at a village called Phuliar – and of a representative of India had a direct political sense due to the fact the dominant place of the MMM at Rose Hill supported at that time by the urban population of the Creole origin in the sense of people of colour – “mulatto” and “Creole” – by Indians, Tamils and Muslims. The remembrance attempt by the monument of Rose Hill at the time of its foundation is therefore totally different from that engaged at Antoinette on the site of the first sugar camp of which there is no more trace and where only remains the ruins of the mill and an old kalimai transformed into a temple whose original structure of the small temple mandup of Kali, which remained the central element of the temple, has been preserved. This event, discussed with the former deputy mayor of Rose Hill, opened with the use of the term “nation” evoked by the circumstances surrounding the construction of the memorial monuments for the arrival of the first Tamil Indians. At first, we had a simple dispute of chronological order, but, on arrival, a political symbolism relating to the meaning of the term “nation” in Mauritius. Like the term “Creole,” the word “nation” is highly ambiguous since it refers to “mulatto” and “Creole” only in everyday language. The content of this term which designates only part of the Mauritian population of the former island of France and not the totality would become established in the years 1967, which paved the way to Independence through the known-political figure of the late Gaetan Duval popularly known as “the king of Creoles.”18 A few years later, in 1976, the content of the word “nation” changed and was conceptualised as a class difference leading to the slogan of the MMM: en sel nation, en sel le pep. To support the dual political sense of building the Tamil monument in Rose Hill, our informant pointed out the actual place of Tamils in the national space through the 1991 elections that brought the MMM/ MSM alliance to power. At the Grand Baie district – comprised of constituencies number six Quartier Militaire, number eight Quatre Bornes, number 18 Rose Hill and number 19 – the Tamils elected their Tamil candidates to the national assembly. In all these districts, Tamils represent a small demographic proportion19 compared to other social groups. However, they came fourth in comparison to the other seven social groups. The votes obtained by this community are by no means confined to Tamil voters whose electoral success is based on the vote of other formations. It was through the voting of minority groups and part of the majority demographic group that Tamils obtained such electoral scores in these constituencies. In constituencies numbers six and eight, the contribution of Hindu votes and the “general population” made the difference. At number 18, it was the “general population” and Muslims who sided with the Tamils, and finally, at number 19, it was the “general population” who reported on the Tamil candidate. ​

Religious and cultural transformations  45 TABLE 2.1 Ethnic composition of districts where Tamils were elected as parliamentar-

ians in 1991 Ethnic composition

Grand Bay/ Poudre D’or no 6

Quartier Militaire/ Moka no 8

Belle Rose/ Quatre Bornes no 18

Stanley/Rose Hill no 19

Hindus Muslims General Population Tamils Telugus Marathis Chinese

20,129 3,828 7580

16.021 4,815 4,445

13,010 4,379 11,030

5,035 4,082 14,727

2,306 862 66 1

3,590 1,650 1,144 179

4,544 1,945 1,081 1,081

4,318 516 140 1,970

Source: All tables have been prepared by the authors, unless specified otherwise.

The presence of the first Indian memorial monument on one of the most emblematic places of the MMM was therefore not neutral. It symbolised the ideology of gathering the people as a people on the basis of electoral alliances that vary according to the quantitative equilibrium of the population groups gathered in the different districts and on the basis of their economic importance. One can go as far as to think that the political territoriality of the Tamils would be born from a federative process of the MMM 20 which brought in its movement the other social formations, Hindu, Christian and Muslim of the cities of the centre and the north, where the effects of globalisation are more clearly felt. The ethnic identity of the Tamils would then be forged in a plural relationship to the other which authenticates it and would confer to them a capacity of redistribution of the roles whatever the statutes and the origin of the minorities on the national territory. This event has led us to think of ethnicity as a dynamic category that is measured and verified by the production of multiple arrangements whose ephemeral centrality serves as a record of the functioning of institutions that stand out from the constitutional legality based on the criteria of classification of the Mauritian population. Therefore, any approach to society based on the assumption that the sense of national belonging is all the more ephemeral as it is virtual, may not capture may overestimate the value of ethnicity or racial identity. The unfolding of the events that occurred at the time of the “Kaya affair”21 was particularly enlightening of the residual expression of the feeling of national belonging that is only visible when the common good is threatened. A social process of resistance is therefore implemented towards the break-up perceived by all Mauritians society as the absolute evil they do not want and the course of the conf lict remained locked in the legal-political framework of the treatment of the “Kaya affair.” The plural character of identities is seen in events by reproducing the constitutional social duality22 built by reference to the two models of colonisation that

46  Religious and cultural transformations

have existed, French and English. This duality is a structural reality of which Mauritian society has gone through today. This is what we will understand about the recent events concerning Morne Brabant and Apravassi Ghat. At the same time, the overcoming of old constitutional frameworks is being played out through the external/internal relationship on the basis of which the protest processes are set up when there are conf licts of interest and is progressively organise the reaction of the governmental authorities involved in the decisions to be taken on the projects.

Contemporary resurgence of the forgotten periods of history: Apravassi Ghat and Le Morne Brabant Twenty years separate us from the foundation of the two monuments commemorating the arrival of the first Indians and the first indenture. In this period, the decade of the 1990s saw a growing acceleration of the modernisation of the sugar industries and the textile free zone. New challenges are emerging as incentives for energy development, nature conservation, and creation of a new investment sector such as Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the development of a new, high-tech textile industry. Finally, tourism continues to grow and increasingly incorporates cultural products considered as a valueadded generating market given the current craze for cultural tourism. The time of the struggles for the architectural heritage of the printing shop of Port Louis is definitively closed; one attends today the worship of the old stones and a patrimonial bidding by all-out creation of museums, sugar and tea, Renovation in the architectural style of the buildings erected during the Mahé Labourdonnais period in Port Louis, post office, moulin de la Concorde, etc. Many old buildings of the French period are declared historical monuments. The old houses were traditionally occupied by statesmen like Le Réduit, where Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam lived, and the Bissoondoyal brothers’ house in Tayac/Rose-Belle. Also of note is the former royal college of Curepipe and the former royal college of Port Louis, which are located in the enclosure of the Jeetoo hospital, Notre Dame Primary School which was built by Adrien d’Epinay, the old sugar mills and the old tombs and the lime kilims. There is a long list of these classified historical monuments. We are in the era of heritage, projects follow one another at a steady pace such as the reconstruction of a sugar camp in Sans Soucis, where the inhabitants who still lived there recently were displaced as a result of the merger of FUEL under the Voluntary Retirement Scheme23 (VRS). The new products of history naturally find their place in the public space. The preparation and organisation committees for the sites to be built are multiplying. The purpose of the Apravassi Ghat was to renovate the buildings of the port in memory of the arrival of the coolies, the Morne Brabant a commanding site was chosen in memory of slavery. Between the time when memorials were built in the 1980s in memory of the first Indians and coolies and the instrumentalisation of the great periods of the history of displaced populations in the world, we can notice

Religious and cultural transformations  47

the appearance of two very different ways of positioning oneself in relation to unwritten history, that of the Indians and that of the Creole world. At the same time as the country is opening up to external markets through the Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS), 24 a muted battle of memory has begun between the two groups of people stemming from slavery, on the one hand, and of the commitment, on the other hand, by which passes the dividing line of the categories of census ranking. Today, the constitutive duality of the Mauritian population is all the more marked as the two social formations, of the “Creole world” and the Hindu community, have set themselves the same objective of conquering their place among the sites classified as “heritage” selected by UNESCO’s World Heritage Site Commission. Apravassi Ghat received this distinction in July 200625 and Morne Brabant has now also been selected by the place of memory to be representative of slavery. On 1 February 2008, a monument was erected at the foot of the mountain at Trouchenille in the “buffer zone” 26 which is the place of preservation of the lands of an area of 360 acres which separate the mountain from the sea. This is to say that the project of IRS development planned by the company Mauritius Partnership Property on the private land of 337 acres is unachievable because it covers a large part of the 360 acres where any construction is prohibited if Le Morne’s protected status is taken into consideration by the UNESCO committee. Protectors of the Le Morne who campaign for the mountain and the “buffer” around it to be instituted world heritage in memory of slavery and minister of housing and land and tourism defended a project in competition direct with the interests of big capital. Without going into the details of the progress of the file being submitted, nor on the one that led to the considering as world heritage of the Apravassi Ghat, let us study these two achievements from the point of view of the report to the past that they took into consideration. For this we visited the two sites with the same questions in the course of the present history of which they are carriers. ​​​

FIGURE 2.4  The

memorial commemorates the Indians at Apravassi Ghat and the restored building.

48  Religious and cultural transformations

FIGURE 2.5 Photographs of the coolies. Source:The folk museum of Indian Immigration

(Mahatma Gandhi Institute).

FIGURE 2.6 The

plates symbolises the first steps of the Immigrants arrived at Coolie Ghat now called Apravassi Ghat. Source: The folk museum of Indian Immigration (Mahatma Gandhi Institute).

The Apravassi Ghat is a building that provokes the respect and silence that is usually given to old stones, to which is added the bronze work of art made from India representing a dome above which a plaque has was cast as well as the footprint of two feet, right and left, and the outlines of an old map of the Indian Ocean. The first steps of the coolie coming out of a long sea voyage from the ports of departure, Bombay, Calcutta or Madras to Port Louis are represented. The hyperrealism of the work of art is surprisingly centred on the first steps of the coolies on the land of Mauritius and a cartographic representation of the Indian Sea with imprecise outlines corresponding to a time when cartography was still very rough. The only contemporary symbol found is in the dome-shaped structure of the work of art, which represents the dispersion of the Indians in the countries bordering the Indian Ocean where they were displaced to be engaged as labourers in the large plantations or wage earners

Religious and cultural transformations  49

in countries where there was major development work such as the railway. We cannot miss to bring the abstract symbolism of the dome closer to the image of the cosmos represented in the new Tamil temples by the different planets of which we spoke above. The space where we can stroll around the renovated building falls steeply on the port as we can see when we photograph the stairs of stones of origin high and tiring where the landing of the indentured arrived at the destination was while the boat was docked while it was being supplied by the wholesale shops in Rue Farquard and Rue la Reine. The unit formed by the building and the green space around it evokes more the idea of a space that could be converted into a museum to show the archive documents of a history of a bygone past. This representation of the past accentuated by the natural aesthetic of the place is more useful to the reconstruction of a world history of labour migration than to a place of memory carrying questions about the origins or the distance, social, economic or political, driven by the work of generations. Is this the reason why a journalist talked about “coolitude” by mentioning the success of the endeavour since Apravassi Ghat is now part of World Heritage sites? The use of the substantive to characterise the collective identity of the workers engaged on the plantations is presented as the equivalent of the term “negritude” used in the literature on the past of slavery, both evoking the same condition of exploitation of the engaged as that of the former slaves. This relationship with the past locked in the condition of coolie does not take into account the rooting of Indian society on the soil of Mauritius which has forged a becoming through the symbolic effectiveness of its culture and religion! The images and the words to express it are numerous. They would have earned their place alongside the iconic photograph of the coolies above the entrance door of the building. The primary symbolism 27 of the stele combined with the aestheticism of the renovated building contrasting with the photographs taken at the time of the registration of the coolies, all this suggests the existence of a relationship to the suspended time without seeking any relationship with the current situation of the Indo-Mauritian population. Thus, from the point of view of the external relations, it is symptomatic that at the same time that the Apravassi Ghat file was being prepared in 2005 to be recognised as a World Site Heritage by UNESCO, the Indian government granted the PIO card for “People of Indian Origin” to all Indo-Mauritians who can show that they have six generations of Indian immigrants since their installation in Mauritius. Such a privilege is a sign of the rapprochement of India and Mauritius in contemporary world trade across the Indian Ocean.

The Morne Brabant The case led by the Morne committee, which aims to make Morne Brabant one of the world’s heritage sites, is very different. It opposes the fixed historical truth of the Apravassi Ghat by the choice of the place that strikes the imagination.

50  Religious and cultural transformations

Apart from the fact that one wonders if two projects from the same country are likely to obtain, successively, the quality of world heritage, there is a major obstacle related to the local tourism development project, difficult to reconcile with the conditions set by UNESCO not to occupy the “buffer zone” (see note 96). From the beginning, the file in memory of slavery28 proves more difficult to finalise especially since the official history has little to say about the events supposed to have occurred on Morne and historians have very few archives at their disposal, at most they have second ends data while the report of archaeological expertise is inconclusive on the existence at the top of the mountain of local sites. It is, in any case in Trou chenille where was the old village moved in 1945 after a hurricane that one should locate the possible archaeological sites (three articles of press of April 2000).29 Faced with this void of documents and possible reconstructions, it is the fantasy that arises at the evocation of this period of slavery, according to the horror more or less strong provoked by the mere idea of a human situation pushed to the limit of commodification. Certainly, there is no “soft slavery” (Teelock, 1998)30 in any part of the world. This is what this high place testifies to the prohibited history of the maroon slaves who took refuge in the mountains, living there with ravine and expedients at night when they did not jump off the cliff to put an end to their living conditions. This evocation compels silence facing this dangerous situation which falls steeply on the coast. ​

FIGURE 2.7 Mountain

Morne Brabant.

The case of the World Site Heritage as it was prepared is optimistic by seeking in the situation of marronage the idea of runaway that could be considered as the equivalent of a new freedom. Finally, the magnificent landscape leading to the blue/green lagoon water saddens the visitor by the evocation of the slave condition. The simple evocation of this state of human alienation is hardly bearable without the idea of a liberation which occurred in other islands of the world as in Guadeloupe but that Mauritius has not known. And, Le Morne Brabant is, without a doubt, the best site that could be chosen as far as it appears inviolable.

Religious and cultural transformations  51

It evokes at the same time the weight of past domination and the feeling of powerlessness to get out of it so that only a “liberation in the imaginary”31 makes the idea of slavery bearable. And yet, the combativeness of the Morne maroon slaves probably looked more like a fight for life than a true liberation. ​

FIGURE 2.8 Monument to the memory of slaves in Mauritius “core zone”Trouchenille.

The beauty of the landscape is in no way related to the aesthetics of the Apravassi Ghat. This is not a reserved area of the port but a land issue of high added-value tourism on which the private capital of Mauritius associated with foreign capital has a well-advanced project of development of luxury villas for tourists does not fit well with the issue international memorial. The Creoles, in a situation of land marginality, face the same obstacles as those who were at the origin of their virtual exclusion from local development, where, after residing on the coast, they were pushed back into the interior. If the added-value of land mingling with the market surplus value of the planned development programme goes well with the construction of a stele in memory of slavery, the debates that took place concluded that the site in memory of slavery where a museum was to be installed at the top of the mountain was not compatible with the project to build a cable car allowing foreign tourists to discover the immensity of the sea without difficulty to which were added five overnight accommodation, a restaurant and a snack bar32 (press on parliamentary debates and press conferences). The debates in the national assembly between members of the government as well as Mauritian residents were held into two opposing groups and finally led to the decision to preserve the summit of the mountain from any form of development and permanent installation. In addition to the contradictory issues raised, let us note that there is a legal problem underlying these projects concerning parcels of agricultural land that have been fragmented and sold to private individuals, so that the “crown land” of this site become private land.We have since learned that the Morne site has been chosen by UNESCO as World Site Heritage, which means that there has been consultation

52  Religious and cultural transformations

and negotiation between the protagonists on the divergent interests concerning “the buffer zone.”

Slavery and indenture: historical perspectives By comparing the events that led to the territorial marking to recall the history of displaced populations on the island’s territory, we can provisionally conclude the existence of two forms of relationship to the past. The first form is based on the endurance and miseries they have undergone, because it is relegated to oblivion and over-determined by the universal history of labour migration that these buildings symbolise. In contrast, the second relation to the past takes the imaginary form of slavery subsumed by marronage, which represents a residual freedom acquired by the Morne refugees without questions about the real social advances that could or should be implemented to get out the Creoles who reside on the spot of their marginality and their quasi-exclusion of current developments. A certain number of Mauritian intellectuals have sought to understand the internal rationality of the choice of the Apravassi Ghat as a place of memory particularly representative of the world history of coolies. Among them, Pavitranand Ramhota asked the question33 to know why the Hindus preferred to renovate the old stones, which would have been at the same time as the other old buildings of the port, rather than to give an inheritance to their children a concrete representation of what could have been the life in a sugar camp, which could have been reconstituted, in Phuliar for example, where was erected a monument in memory of the first coolies in 1984. This is not fortuitous because it leads others, such as the question of whether the specificity of a history and culture reinvented at the place of migration can serve, simultaneously, the cause of a meaningful global history in national construction. Between the global symbolic value of the Apravassi Ghat which records the first steps of the immigrant after a long voyage on sea and that of the reconstitution of a camp, the educational value added goes without question to the idea of the reconstitution of a camp at the precise, current moment when they disappear from the Mauritian landscape. The Apravassi Ghat, this only implies the opinion of the present authors, by its aesthetics as well as by its unique function of having been the obligatory place of passage of all immigrants belongs more to the world history of labour migration which bypasses the remembrance of the time of the beginnings and conditions of origin in relation to which their ancestors, their parents, have built from scratch a differentiated community which has its place in the national ensemble. If we consider that “history begins with oblivion of the ancestors,” the aestheticising attitude is the best way to go to new beginnings, of these “new worlds”34 (Balandier, 2006) resulting from the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that break with the past. The question of origin is no longer posed in terms of the path travelled to signify humanity’s part of a forgotten history, nor in terms of becoming by evoking past labour migration

Religious and cultural transformations  53

compared to contemporary migrations linked to globalisation but in terms of the past hypothetically overhand. Between those who give the memory a value of symbolic utility to change the course of their existence and those who, as noted by a personality of the political world, evoke the need for forgetting by transforming history into aesthetics of the past for external use more than internal, there is a whole world of differences that goes from the one for whom the colonial past must be known to understand the society of today to the one who considers that this passed past does not deserve that one linger there. Comparatively, the search for a place in memory for slavery is a task all the more difficult to realise considering that the work of memory is barely engaged with this period of the history of Mauritius, which is not the case of the history of Indian immigration on which university historians have preferentially worked. In the face of a history without written memory and a reality for many unimaginable (in the proper sense), vis-à-vis almost structural inequalities, what better representation to give than that of an impregnable bastion, a natural element dating from the night of the times which asserts itself by the sight of an environment opening directly on the sea? These two separate symbolic actions that succeed one another highlight two conceptions of the heritage of the past. We can measure the current importance of symbolic production in the public space to find new benchmarks and our research shows that religion in its relationship to history, politics and economics applies to the same reality social relationships related to daily life and work. How did we construct our interrogation of the transformation of contemporary Mauritian society from the point of view of the Hindu religion? This is what we will try to explain in the sections that follow.

Research problem Religion holds a very important place in Mauritius. It is observed in everyday life and work. Thus, each of the different religions had to choose religious feast days35 that correspond to the highlights of their liturgical calendar so that they are part of the public holidays retained by the government. There are no less than 15 holidays reserved for the most important religious and political holidays in Mauritius. In addition, each of the four major religions – Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu – has given rise to popular practices deeply rooted in social life. So is the Ghoon for Indians of the Muslim religion, the worship of Father Laval for Catholics, the Kali cults known as “seven sisters” for Indians of Hindu religion, the New Year for Buddhists.

Reinvention of popular cults Since our research focused on relations between the state, the globalisation of markets and religion, it would have been relevant to conduct a comparative study of

54  Religious and cultural transformations

the symbolism of the different popular cults and to identify, in this way, the interrelationships between community about daily life and work and their different ways of reporting to the public administration. However, as there was no research work on the subject of popular cults, given the breadth of sources of investigation and archives to gather, we chose to limit our research to the study of popular cults Indo-Mauritians on the place of the kalimai, which are altars where the seven divinities, so-called seven sisters representing Kali, are arranged. It would have been hazardous to think that we could gather as much material on the popular cults of different religions as the cults of Father Laval36 or Ghoon, to compare them according to the relations they establish with their respective official religion and, simultaneously, to identify the specific mode of relationship to the administration symbolised by the rituals. This goal was not reasonable without starting from comparable data in the particular functioning of each of the popular religions issued from the four major religions present in Mauritius. We then deepened the only Kali cults in order to identify what, in the different rituals, concerned more or less syncretic religious forms stemming from mutual relations with other religions, in particular the Catholic religion. We noticed that the construction model common to the various rituals – Catholic, Hindu – was linked to the affirmation of family social relations. In the Hindu religion, caste differentiation was closely dependent on the strictly endogamous rules of alliance that were gradually instituted. We found great similarities between the Hindu folk cults and the worship of Father Laval, which we consider as a kind of catechesis formed by the image of Hindu or Tamil folk surrounding rituals. These levels of analysis, as close as possible to religious practices and behaviours, have led us to reconstitute, to a greater or lesser extent, the relationships between communities as experienced in the camps37 by workers from different backgrounds living under the same conditions. It is not surprising then that the popular cults are based on a similar representation of the divinity: the Virgin Mary, Kali, Durga, etc., which could lead to different forms of social organisation. There has been a reinvention of the beliefs that popular cults bear in relation to the circumstances of the social life of the camps and the existing modes of communication. We still see this fact today about the Kalimai on the West Coast and some Kalimais on the east coast of the island who have reserved a special place for Father Laval. But the religious “syncretism” of today no longer has the same sense of distancing without breaking with the foreign world that it may have had at the time of the foundation of the first altars of Kalimais. The form taken by the current ritual arrangements is presented as a sort of paradoxical modernity – the development, the renovation of the kalimais or the foundation of new temples – by which the indianity asserts itself autonomous and different from the other identities through a myth of the origins lost and rediscovered through the spread of scholarly religion and/or the emergence of new deities such as that of Mahabir Swami, called “Hanuman” in India.The same is true of Père Laval’s cult, which is now part of the

Religious and cultural transformations  55

official ceremonies celebrated by the entire Catholic hierarchy since Father Laval was beatified by the Pope on 29 April 1979, the anniversary of his death being celebrated by the Catholic Church which has reserved for him a holiday in his annual liturgical calendar. The contemporary religious syncretism indicates the existence of a new relationship to the past, built on a reinvention of religious practices by reactivation or innovation of certain rituals and a challenge to the scholarly religion that can go far enough, some devotees of Hindu religion claiming of a quasi-monotheism. And yet, the multiplication of the temples, the originality of the associations established around the beliefs to certain deities more than to others to satisfy the diverse traditions of the adepts who come to pray at the temple, the general tendency of the Hindu religion to incorporate the differences from outside, all these manifestations symbolically express the tremendous change of society in the face of the rapid modernisation of the national economy confronted with the competition of the markets. Finally, the local identity production in the doubly contentious religious form it has taken – of the official religion and/or popular cults reinvented in a migration situation – represents at best a cultural response to economic and political problems, the cultural and the cultural and the economical mutually reinforcing their meaning.

Similarities and differences: ethnics and castes. When the Indians came to Mauritius as artisans or coolies, they came mostly from rural areas and were very religious. Their cults differed according to whether they came from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or Tamil Nadu, called Chennai. Because the goddess Kali presents herself in India in different forms: Durga, Devi, Draupadi amen. In Bengal at Calcutta, the blood of dozens of oxen flowed during the sacrifices made in Durga. In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, sacrifices were offered to Kali and other tutelary deities. Our research shows that it is around important divinities like Mahabir Swami Hanuman that symbolically plays the transformations of the current Mauritian society. It has also been noted that the ritual relating to the deity Dhi is very different in Mauritius from the same cult celebrated in India. There was not only a reinvention of the cults from India, but the formation of new cults and rituals to serve the cause of the new committed solidarities. Our research has been concerned with all the modifications made to the kalimais, whether they are changes in the organisation of the kalimai space where the divinities are arranged, whether they are mere separations from the deities. In the same space, whether it is a divinity that once existed in the kalimai space that was installed elsewhere under a tree or on the altar of a newly built temple, or when one finds the pure and simple abandonment of a deity who is no longer honoured, as shown by the weeds and vegetation that cover it.We also sought to bring together in a corpus38 the oral traditions still alive and memorised by people, such as the songs specific to each goddess

56  Religious and cultural transformations

of the kalimais. We focused our attention as much on similarities as on differences, following the explanations given by our informants. The latter projected on their divinities either the original differences of the regional cultures in India, or they represented them as the product of a primitive acculturation of the Hindu religion with the catholic religion which existed on the spot or they saw the contemporary transformations like symbols relating to insoluble conflicts that have resulted in an option taken to separate opposing groups or families. Kalimais are known to have multiplied when women came in greater numbers from India as a result of the administration’s migration policy which sought to better balance the proportion of women compared to men who often came as single men for their first contract. There was an unequal distribution of divinities on the prayer altars built in the camps, while a symbolic equivalence was established between the Kali deities of north Hindus and Mariamen of Tamils of South India.We have seen the social transversality of contemporary cults. Let us quote amourou puja which is a ritual recently reactivated and diffused on the island where there are many Telugus installed in the villages and the small towns, or the cult of the Virgin Mary that some Tamils prayed formerly because they have adopted the Christian religion at certain times in their history. The altars of the Virgin are generally placed under large stones in the form of caves, near temples and modernised kalimais. All these practices are based on the existence of a former social proximity that is now engaged into the organisation of certain religious spaces such as Queen Victoria. In this place, are gathered all the different cults celebrated by the faithful residents around, many of whom are employees of the small town of Flacq, officials of Port Louis and others are labourers of the old mill of Queen Victoria which is part of the FUEL company. The religious space of Queen Victoria consists of a Hindu temple, a Tamil temple, a cave in which is placed the Virgin Mary, a kalimai and divinities related to witchcraft as Kateree, tutelary deity of Tamils in front of which a diviner-healer gives his consultations, twice a week. The differences in the construction and ordering of the altars dedicated to Kali, like the rituals encountered in our investigations, originated from the differences in practices or beliefs in India, the interculturality that was played out in the sugar camps, the social differences that have occurred over time. Our investigation has shown precisely that kalimais have been the framework for the production of the social differences of jatis represented in the camps by specific rituals belonging to the same Panchayat39 system of power whose purpose is the plurality of forms of expression of religion based on the same representation of the world and the sacred. As a result, the flattened image of Indian immigrants forming a single group during the first census did not correspond to the reality experienced in the camps. The newcomers rubbed shoulders with the first Tamils (see Figure 2.3) who arrived in the French colonisation era. While some Tamils were baptised, others had retained their beliefs. In 1772, Pierre Poivre before his departure from Mauritius responded to the request of

Religious and cultural transformations  57

these unchristianised Tamils to build the first temple at the Malabar camp in Port Louis where they lived. All that remains are the ruins of this ancient temple (Sooriamoorty, 1977) of the French colonisation era. The Indians also had kalimais and other secondary deities scattered in the cane fields. These deities were represented by simple stones with rounded ends wider at the base, dressed in fabrics of yellow and red colours preferably. When the Indians of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh came to Mauritius, they lived in the same camps as the Tamils from Madras. The two communities prayed at the same places but with different deities because of their preferential affiliation to certain deities, Draupadi for the Tamils, Durga for the Hindus of the north. Later, these divinities initially associated on the same place of worship separated and each of them had its own place of prayer. In this process of separation of Hindu cults, the more or less direct role played by the administration at the time of Independence in 1968, which set electoral quotas for minorities, whose visibility should then be clearly apparent within the field of religious practice. The differentiation of rituals symbolically reflects the mode of affirmation of statutory and ethnic differences that the society has been through. We, therefore examined whether birth determined caste identity in the particular context of immigration or whether the opposite would have occurred. The design of the caste refers to the early writings found in the Purusha Sukta verses of Rig Veda.40 In these texts, we see the importance of the differentiation of society into four castes.41 In Mauritius the castes of the Brahmins, Kshatryas, Vaishs, Ravived and Rajputs are actually varnas42 which are manifested in the ritual giving rise to different representations of the revered higher deities in the various places of worship. Far from being an abstract phenomenon of implicit and/or hidden social structuring (Fuller, 1992), the caste distinction took on this visible character in the rituals of the cults insofar as it expressed the organisation of Indian labourers’ relations in their daily life and work as well as the first relationship to the land, they established vis-à-vis the white sugar planters in the space of the properties where they worked. By granting portions of land 30 feet by 30 feet for the construction of kalimais and allowing the deities to be placed on the altars, the sugar owners favoured the birth of the first workers’ associations in the camps. This initial local rooting in the plantations has been adjusted to the relations of production and the division of labour instituted in the camps. The bands of workers controlled by the sirdars43 have not been a sum of isolated individuals, they have become, by the insertion in the life of the camps, groups more or less organised and socialised (Chazan-Gillig, 2001). Popular cults were thus the place of production of the first manifestations of sexual inequality linked to the low demographic representation of women from the early immigration era (Carter, 1995) and inequality in work. From this it emerges that the division of labour into bands of workers spread over the cane fields has been decisive for the distribution of cults more or less dispersed in the productive

58  Religious and cultural transformations

space of the plantations. While one-third of the first immigrants returned to India after their five-year contract, two-thirds remained in the country. They founded families by choosing women who came on the same boat or from the same ports, or from the same cities or villages in India. There was, of course, a strengthening of ties between migrants from the same regions of India, speaking the same language or practising the same religions. Contrary to the generally held belief that kalimai cults were founded at the time of camp formation, the opposite would have occurred. First of all, small altars were scattered within the sugar estate and, secondly, thanks to the allocation of land by the white bosses, more complex cults were created, associating various divinities according to the new social relations of kinship and alliance which were established between the families in the camps. The divinities spread in the cane fields like the more complex altars are indifferently called kalimais.44 Kalimais in the camps and isolated deities of the same period are still visible and respected today. They were the place of inscription of a first interculturality between groups of different origins of India on which were built preferential relations of alliance among the generations. They recall the notoriety of the ancestors and the great families who emerged in the establishment and who contracted alliances useful to the expression of the statutory quality of the group, appearing a-posteriori as the founders of the cult. Thus, for example, one can understand the change that has occurred in the rites of passage of those who concern the birth of a child, called namkaran, or rites related to a child death called anteyesthi. The rituals were transformed by the practices of the different social groups and they were simultaneously the frame work for the production of the union or the separation of the groups of population living together in the same camps. Moreover, we observed that the first phase of cultural and religious transformation, from which came the first Tamil and Hindu temples, was played out at a particular moment in the social and economic integration of the groups concerned. The former, especially the Tamils, had achieved an economic emergence through trade that allowed them to become owners of mills. The latter, the North Indians and other minority groups such as Telugus and Marathis, realised their economic emergence by becoming independent planters in the aftermath of the crises that followed the sugar boom of the 1850s. Ownership of the lands offered for sale during the fragmentation, apart from the families of traders, was generally made through the dominant social relations that generated the jatis or varnas statutory differences. They organised themselves around kalimais which were built on the lands conceded by the establishment, legitimised by a title deed. The social ordering was built around the first territoriality of the cults. The social segmentations that have occurred as the number of preferential alliances has increased have led to the first social closures of families to each other, which have been the real causes of the separation of places of worship and their multiplication at the moment

Religious and cultural transformations  59

when the sugar economy developed. At the same time, the kalimai’s lands were all suitable lands collectively secured by a notarial deed under the modern land tenure system of which we have found the titles of the deeds. All the forms of accumulation of land, money, labour power, have been developed on the same collective basis of relations established at the time of the foundation of the kalimais. Thus, the kalimais were the development frameworks of tontines in other words popular banks and local cooperatives. As independent small-scale Indian farmers emerged, popular cults became places of social permanence and rulemaking that the gift system maintained, where no one was ever truly free from one’s debt all at once real and symbolic. This is why the kalimais social history has been so instructive of the knowledge of the development and segmentation of social groups and their transformation into jatis status groups, caste being organically linked by work. Kalimais have also been the place where social relations of cooperation and local exchanges are organised for the monetary accumulation and during land changes. We have been able to reconstruct the history of sugar mills through that of kalimais, their multiplication and their geographical distribution. They have been valuable indicators of social differentiation in the spatial boundaries of the old sugar mills and the current inequalities that have occurred in the “factory area”45 of sugar companies since recent concentrations. Some altars have long since disappeared and are sometimes marked by traces of vegetation, recognisable by the types of trees and flowers commonly found in kalimais. Others have moved to the concentration of mills and the geographical extension of the land holdings of sugar companies formed in the decade of the 1940s. Finally, at some point in the social integration of families, their association was at the origin of the founding of the temples which appeared, where the plantations of sugar of the first Indian owners were. Tamils first, who were already present at the time of French colonisation and the North Indians in the years that followed the “great parcelling” of mill lands (1876–1880).

From kalimais to temples: the founding families The construction of the temples closely followed the economic emergence of the family/ethnic and caste social groups. Temples are the historical landmarks of the economic growth processes of the large-scale farmer families who have grouped their workers, their allies and their dependents around them. Tamils from Tamil Nadu in southern India were the first to erect temples because they first arrived on the island formerly known as the Ile-de-France and worked as artisans46 or traders in import/export in Port Louis. It is no secret that Tamil families who owned sugar properties in the north and east of the island were French–Tamil,47 supported by the trading branches of their relatives and friends in the capital from Port Louis. ​



Clemencia Hermitage


Ville Valio

Bon Accueil

Pitchen Denis and heirs

Pitchen Denis and Maurice Bouton Tiroumoudy Rama, Annasamy V

Source: Rouillard, 1964.

Pamplemousses and Riviere du Rempart

Stokes, Zone de Mount

Bon Espoir

Pamplemousses and Riviere du Rempart

Maison Blanche/ Clementine

Arlanda Louis Granadicayen and Meclenburg Brownhead; Alex Wemyss; Evenor de Chazal; The Pamplemousses S.E. Ltd Arlanda Ovve, Cesar D. Avrincourt, Mrs Renaud, Amaury Arlanda Pierre Armougan, Theodore Maigrot and Mvlapoor Moonissamy Arlanda Pierre Armoudon

Pamplemousses and Riviere du Rempart Pamplemousses and Riviere du Rempart

Pamplemousses and Riviere du Rempart

Pamplemousses and Riviere du Rempart

Bon Espoir



Property name


TABLE 2.2 First Tamil owners: modes of acquisition and mutations

Pamplemousses and Riviere du Rempart Flacq

Charles Telfair and Associates Chauvet Tomy Pitot de la Beaujardière










Date of purchase








Resale date

Miss A.M. Lise Sevene Francois Victor D’Hotman and heirs Francois Hyppolyte Meslier Heirs of Tiroumoudy de Pondicherry

Pierre Armoudon Arlanda and heirs


The Mont Rocher S.E. Co. Ltd

Rama Tsiroumoudy de Pondicherry

New owner

60  Religious and cultural transformations

Religious and cultural transformations  61

The table of acquisition and transfer ownership lands of the oldest Tamil families distinguishes four large groups of families, who acquired very early plantation lands: Pitchen, Honorable Arlanda Armougon, Anasamy and Tsiroumoudy.48 The first Denis Pitchen and Arlanda Armoudon acquired their lands of Bon Accueil (1782) and the Mount area (1822) in association with families of French origin. They were Christianised Tamils. Denis Pitchen resold his lands at the beginning of the English colonisation to families of French merchants. Honourable Arlanda first strengthened her family ties by retaining her land until 1861, when the “great fragmentation” began (Allen, 1983). The latter later joined British businessmen (1885) to form the company Pamplemousses S.E Co Ltd. In 1895 he realised his capital by selling his property to the new company The Mount Rocher S. E. Co Ltd. The second, Anassamy had a position very different from the others since he settled in Mauritius under the British colonial regime in 1814. His situation with regard to the English administration was in every way identifiable with that had Denis Pitchen49 under the French administration, since he acquired Bon Espoir in 1833 from Charles Telfair, who was the Advisor to the first English governor Sir Robert Farquhar. The family Tsiroumoudy Rama bought the property of Anassamy, Bon Espoir in 1840. It will be passed on to the heirs in 1852. All these large Tamil planters of the mid-19th century were simultaneously traders50 who combined the import-export activities – dry grains, oil, spices, fabrics, etc. – to those of the plantation. The same was true of so-called “European” planters who had their trading house in Port Louis. That is why the first temples were established on the lands of the properties they had acquired and developed. All these temples of Bon Espoir, founded by Anassamy before 1850, which of Clémencia, built between 1856–1859 by Honourable Arlanda with the support of his friends, relatives and business allies settled in Port Louis as ML Chetty and Co. who donated for the construction of the temple (Sooriamoorthy, 1977: 134).51 The property of Clémencia was very early fragmented and part of the land was bought by Hindu planters and creoles, we will see later. As for the temple of Terre Rouge (see Figure 2.9), it was built on the property of the heirs of Arounassalon Sinnatambou in 1857 shown in Figure 2.10 (Ibid, 1977: 121). TABLE 2.3 L ocation and date of foundation of the first Tamil temples: the founding

families Location

Year sugar estate


Constituency Property




No 10


Terre Rouge Bon Espoir


Montagne Blanche Port Louis

Before 1850 Piton

Source: Sooriamoorthy, 1977.

Clemencia Hermitage

No 4 No 6

Sinnatambou Bon Espoir


62  Religious and cultural transformations

It can be seen that it took 30 years for Tamil owners/traders to meet the conditions of sufficient accumulation for the construction of temples. If we refer to the two tables, it is only between 1856 and 1860 that the temples were founded while the concessions were acquired by the first Tamils from the French era of colonisation around 1830. All these concessionaires Indians Tamil origins sold their land at the time of the “great fragmentation,” after the sugar boom of the 1850s as did other dealers owning “mulatto” mills like the Fabre in Beauvallon. 52

FIGURE 2.9 Terre

Rouge: one of the first Tamil temples in the north of the island.

Alongside this large plantation acquired by the Tamils during the French colonial era, there was the historic social integration of the North Indians of the first generation of immigrants which developed in the wake of the sugar crises during the two periods of “small and large fragmentation”53 of the 1840s and the 1860s. North-Coombs (2000: 137) stated that the year 1876 was the beginning of accession to the small property of the Indians who came as coolies to work on the sugar estates and the dates of the construction of the first temples of the North Indians coincide more or less with this process of economic emergence. The founders of these temples were among the families of those who acquired the first properties, after the closure of the first mills and the fragmentation of land that followed. It was so with the founder of the temple of Triolet, he who acquired 200 acres of land in 1890 called La Caroline, located today in the area of Beau Plan. ​

Terre Rouge Terre Rouge

Les Salines



1865 1867





Jharenath Shivalaya

Adya Maheswarnath Mandir Maheswarnath Mandir




Gokhoola Temple Society Maheswarnath Mandir Rameshwarnath Temple Association Shivnarain Mandir



Temple name

Pamplemousses no 5

Vacoas no 15

Flacq no 9

Port louis no 3

Riviere du Rempart no 7 Port Louis no 4 Port Louis no 4


Beau Plan


Grande Retraite

The Mount The Mount

Mon Loisir

Sugar estate

TABLE 2.4 Locations and dates of foundation of the first Hindu temples: the founding families

Pandit Sajeewan

S. Kalicharan





Pandit Dabee Mishra Nundoochand, Jhummun Giri Gossagne Dookhee Gangah, Lalljee Gossagne B. Ajodha, B. Radhakissoon, R. Hookoom, Dhanoo, Ragoobeer, K. Rampersad S. Seeruttun, A. Gujadhur, H. Padaruth A. Nundlall, R. Aumeer S. Baichoo, S. Sukhai, S. Toolsy, A. Sewraz



Religious and cultural transformations  63

64  Religious and cultural transformations

This development of Hindu temples coincided, as 30 years earlier for the Tamils, with the emergence of small Indian plantation and some large planters designated by the literature as “old migrants.” These great planters were the founders of the temples by the donations which they made of a part of their land’s estates at the time when they possessed them. 54 Sometimes they even distributed them to farmers who cultivated vegetables between the lines of cane plantations. This was one of the ways in which the small independent plantation with no legal right of ownership legitimised by a notarial act developed. The big planters are identified today by our interviewees 55 as high-caste Baboojees/Marazs and Vaishs. This caste status is comparable to a class distinction, if one refers to the conditions of the time for legal access to land ownership. Only financial accumulation and close proximity to the white sugar planters and/or the colonial administration made it possible to purchase land’s estate, those lands being sold being preferably land of lower agricultural productivity, designated as “marginal lands.” Moreover, we know that the old camps often bore the name of an Indian, either because he owned the surrounding land or because he managed the agricultural labour for the white boss. In the area of Camp de Masque where we worked, the place called Camp Balgobin, of which no trace remains, is still cited by the villagers. From immigration related to poverty, from an exclusion voluntary or suffered in regions of origin in India, we have moved to a form of sustainable settlement 56 on a contractual basis between the sugar “workers”57 and the owners of plantations. These contracts were at the origin of an economic and social positioning, all in all, favourable to a minority of former immigrants. When the second generation of Indian migrants settled on the soil of Mauritius, the term “Creole Indians” appeared in everyday language that distinguished those born on the spot from other immigrants who arrived later and were found in the census category “Indo-Mauritians.”58 It is the traders of the Tamil community in southern India who were obviously the first to take their place in the local economic system and to build the symbolic framework of their political integration through the temples that have perpetuated the social situation of family groups emerging on the basis of common cultural values (Sinnatambou). Indeed, the Tamil deities ordinarily present in kalimai cults like Draupadi, Durga and Kaliamen either were integrated into the kovil temples, 59 or they remained outside. Temples like Bon Espoir (Ayasamy), Clémencia (Honourable Arlanda) and Terre Rouge (Sinnatambou) founded at the time of the sugar boom in the 1850s (Sooriamoorty, 1977) have kalimais inside.

Religious and cultural transformations  65

FIGURE 2.10 The old temple of Bois Piolet. Source: Mauritius Mandir Chitravali, 1971,

p. 21.

It was different from later temples, like the Nicolay Road named the Kaylasson Temple. Any difference in the organisation of the outer space and interior of the temples is significant of this mode of insertion structuring of the social bond by religion, symbolically attached to this or that deity or the association of deities between them. The first differentiations that occurred locally were related to the territorial subdivisions of the mills that were part of the development of the small and large Indian plantation under French and English administration. The Tamils now have their altar of Kali within the walls of some temples, in sign of their initial position of big planters that the families of merchants of Port Louis had very early and which was perpetuated for several generations during the British colonisation era by linking their trading activities to those of the plantation. The Tamil temples have this particular virtue of integrating in the space of their temples the multiple religious/cultural affiliations of their faithful so as to be the representatives of a social power of federative nature. We have been able to measure their symbolic effectiveness during our investigations, on the political electoral level, which requires necessarily to rely on essential strategic alliances when in a minority group. The accumulation of Indians in northern India was very different from that of Tamils because most of them were labourers. They founded temples only from 1867 that is to say with the second generation of Indian immigrants born on the soil of Mauritius. The first shivala60 temple is located in Gokoola, in the north of the island, not 61 far from the sugar estate of Mon Loisir and the city of Riviere du Rempart. Some other shivalas were built, later, as that of Bois Pignolet in 1867 at Terre Rouge (Figure 2.10), of the Salines in Port Louis, of Laventure in 1881 in Flacq, of Vacoas in 1885 and of the Crève-cœur valley north of the capital of Port Louis in 1897. The spatial distribution of the first temples of the North Indians in Mauritius is related to the distribution of workers in sugar establishments. The geographical location of the first temple to the north is the first installation of the coolies

66  Religious and cultural transformations

at a place called Phuliar, where was the sugar establishment of Mon Loisir. We know, however, that it is the families of independent planters of the first generation who are at the origin of their construction. Moreover, we know that it was the first immigrants known as “old migrants” who thus legitimised their belonging to the high castes, the number of which remained limited because of the very early preferential marriages instituted. Finally, the geographical distribution of the Tamil and Hindu temples is directly related to the differential distribution in the space of the two communities: Tamils were more widely represented in Port Louis, in the Flacq district and in Mahébourg because of their status as traders and associated planters. Much later, in the post-war years Tamils settled in the major cities of the central plateau, preferentially Rose Hill after selling their land to get closer to schools. Hindus have temples set up and spread over the island’s plantations mainly to the northeast and northwest, where they had a renewable five-year work contract with the owners of mills and sugar companies.

MAP 2.1 Location

of the first Tamil and Hindu temples.

Religious and cultural transformations  67

Map 2.1 shows the first Indian temples in the north and south shows that the settlement of migrants in the different regions of the island has led to a form of rooting to the plantation land, materialised by the construction of places of worship located not far from the sugar camps where they were installed or where they owned properties. There were early large Indian owners who owned their mills, where we find the oldest places of worship (Clémencia, Bon Espoir and Unité). The first rootedness, based on the division of labour established by the sugar properties, was the place of edification of the statutory distinctions of the first Indian immigrants. In the same way that the relations of production helped to draw the first differences, the mill symbolised by the chimney of the factory was the setting of the family distinctions between white sugar owners. There has been a reciprocal, intertwined, interplay of mills and the multiplication of places of worship that manifests the heritage-type relationship to the land between sugargrowers and independent Indian workers/future small-scale planters (ChazanGillig, 2000). We saw in the previous chapter that the first immigrants emerged from the great fragmentation of the 1860s (Allen, 1983) and became independent planters, not far from where the first Hindu temples are. Both the territorial factor and the division of labour provided a framework for the spatial deployment of caste religious ideology, while the division of labour was organised on the basis of regional quasi-ethnic distinctions. Thus, Tamils finally specialised in the trade of big cities and the import/export and it is the first owners, generally of high castes, who left their plantations. As for the first North Indians, they formed the starting nucleus of the Baboojee-Maraz high castes (Brookfield, 1958). The social groups related to the different regions of origin of India – Tamils, Marathis, Telugus, Biharis – are all related to kalimais of origin created by their ancestors. The very early relationship of kalimais to temples became more complicated as the associative movements developed, revealing the social power acquired by the groups thus formed. The centrality of the social relationships involved is no longer played on the actual place of the ceremonies, as we have noticed in the course of the cults in which we have participated – whether it is the Taipoorsam cavadee of Port Louis (Tamil cult) which generally includes thousands of people, whether it is the Mahashivratree (great pilgrimage of the North Indians) also frequented by thousands of faithful, or whether it is more restricted practices like fire walk, Baharia puja cults or the divinities of kalimais in activity, we must never forget the essence of the expression of religious sentiment. This manifest itself in a plurality of practices and rituals centred on a cosmic representation of the world where there is no absolute separation between the local and the global. As a result, the dialectic from within and from outside is synonymous with the private/public distinction engaged by cultural associations vis-à-vis the state. The relations of the Indian society with the colonial administration have never been played out on a radical separation of the private and the public but on the register of a quantitative relation destined to produce a social legitimacy in the established constitutional framework.

68  Religious and cultural transformations

Itinerary of research The search route we followed covered the north-eastern and north-western districts of the island where temples and kalimais are in greater numbers. Some kalimais have kept their autonomy, others have been modernised or displaced, and finally some kalimais from the urban suburbs, which have become well known, have become temples, dedicated to Hindu deities of Mauritian origin who are not part of the pantheon of deities listed in India.

The main places of investigation The first investigation focused on the Vallée des Prêtres and it was planned to cover the entire region around Port Louis, which can be crossed from valleys to valleys to the capital. These valleys of Crève-Coeur, Montagne Longue and the Vallée des Prêtres have always been inseparable from the capital, be it economic relations, or relations of cultural and political affiliations. This is what emerges from the history of the foundation and geographical distribution of Kalimai cults and temples studied around Port Louis: they are affiliated with each other. Thus, the Tamil temples Vallée des Prêtres and Sokkalingam Meenakshiamman Kaylasson of the Route Nicolay of Port Louis, and that of the Valley of the Priests, the temple Vishnu Chetra Mandir, are associated in the Taïpoorsum Cavadee. The Hindu Temple Vishnu Chetra Mandir of Saint Denis Street has also been associated with the same Muruga cult of Taipursom Cavadee, celebrated by the Kaylasson Temple. It is the same with the concentration of Caroline of the Vallée des Prêtres and that of Tranquebar, located below the Montagne des Signaux, which dominates the northern part of Port Louis district Ward IV. The political leader, federator of the so-called “coloured population,” Gaetan Duval, gave the name of Bangladesh Ward IV to mark, symbolically, the high proportion of population Indian and Creole. The place of the Kalimai of Caroline was also highlighted by reference to the uplifting history of Ram founder of the Ramayana cults that developed in the Baïtkas,62 first cultural training centres of the Hindu population. This place was named Chitrakoot by the Basdeo Bissoondoyal philosopher by reference to the place where the poet Tulsidas wrote the epic of Ramcharitamanas. The affiliation relationships of the various religious buildings were magnified by the leaders who prepared the country’s independence. Therefore, the study of cults and their mutual relations always brings us back to the process of formation of family social bonds and differentiation of castes during the periods that prepared independence to the more recent changes in a context of restructuring of all markets (financial, land, products and labour) We have also extended our research to other areas of the island, which had special relationships of exchange of local products with Port Louis: vegetables, fruits, milk, crafts and big and small breeding. The places of worship of Camp du Masque and Camp de Masque Pavé, Plaine des Papayes, Fonds du Sac in the north and Mahébourg in the south of the island, were then systematically visited

Religious and cultural transformations  69

to identify the historical and spatial, urban and rural social relations and their transformation from yesterday to today. This work also uses data on the sugar history of the FUEL company and its restructuring in the context of globalisation, in the district of Flacq, east of the island, where we worked the most. The three locations make up the different survey areas,63 and the places of worship photographed and superimposed specify shooting dates and show the importance of the changes that occurred between the beginning of the investigation in 1992 and the years that followed. Indeed, if we were not able to photograph any of the oldest kalimais corresponding to the first installation of Indian immigrants in the camps, we nevertheless visited very old sites still visible because of the vegetation and the presence of remains of offerings left on the small rocks on which the sindoor64 is placed. It is well known that these are dangerous places, which are only used at night to practice witchcraft. But in many cases, these places are still visited and honoured before the ceremonies are held at the site of the new kalimai cults. In some cases, the original site has remained the same, but the space having been restructured, one no longer distinguishes what was old from what is new. The interviews we locally conducted most often in the Bhojpuri native language, and in Creole, which allowed us to identify and locate the oldest part of the sites. The kalimais of Petit Verger and Petite Cabanne have thus undergone almost imperceptible changes because the faithful have sought nothing more than a renovation of their altars to make them more attractive and more practical for making sacrifices. In Beauvallon, also located halfway from Camp de Masque Pavé in Clémencia, along the road that crosses the Montagne Blanche Montagne Faïence and Bel Air, the essential change of the site was the construction of an enclosure and on the arrangement of a water tap necessary for the preparation of the offerings. The miniature photographs of the map were taken at the beginning of the surveys between 1992 and 1994, with the exception of the Kalimai of Petite Cabanne. We photographed these same places of worship in 1999 and 2000.65 They have all been renovated, with the exception of the Kalimai of the Priests’ Valley and the private Kalimai of Clémencia. Some kalimais, such as those of Tranquebar and Petit Verger, have become real temples. These architectural changes show the existence of very active religious associations, able to mobilise large sums of money to ensure the construction of these new temples. Only associations with a large number of people, who recognise the same common origin in India, or federations, which include people of different origins and whose management committees are composed of the most active representatives of the various districts have a temple or seek to create one and are able to implement such changes. The multiple national federations interact to transform and renovate the practice of worship.66 Their relative power is simultaneously played out at the political and economic levels, through the numerical importance of their members on the one hand and the capacity of the president and the members of the committee to manage the affairs of the community well. The president and the members of the board of directors also called “board” are elected for one year. The term of

70  Religious and cultural transformations

office of the president is renewable three times while that of the elected members of the committee is renewable only once. There is thus an effective social circulation of power within these committees, because of the annual renewals of at least 50% of the elected representatives and sometimes of the president himself. The rhythm of the ceremonies and the donations made on these occasions by the participants lead to the existence of a permanent symbolic indebtedness – real or fictional – of the families and associations affiliated to the National Federations. Indeed, the offerings to deities about cults are part of a whole system of redistribution in which everyone participates to progress and go through the stages of life (Dharma). It establishes a constant and almost direct relation between the daily life of the people and the cultural and political life. We have highlighted the relationships that are established with the federations and, from there, we have been able to reconstruct the genesis of the formation of the associations and the reasons as much as the dates of their separation. We have studied the role of these associations and federations in the contemporary reinvention of cults and/or the founding of new temples responsible for assigning each individual and social group their new place in the fields of religion and politics through the divinities chosen as part of the pantheon of the temple deities. The temple is generally conceived as a space of distribution and association of divinities each having their own territoriality and rituals. It is a place of social production that ultimately leads to the distinction between private life and public life by staging a game of multiple intermediations that operate this final separation during rituals, based on the shared ideology of community differences and castes around deities. Note that the kalimais of the north of the island, located in the district of Pamplemousses, have not experienced the same modernisation. They would seem abandoned if we did not notice the presence of offerings on these altars. A first explanation can be put forward in this particular situation of the kalimais of the north compared to those of the east and south of the island. The north represents the part of the island where tourism development has been the fastest and the most complete. This region has also experienced a more complete process of successive sugar concentrations and cane lands are now mostly mechanically exploited. This is why the sugar companies have not allowed the construction of new religious buildings on lands with high added value productive or speculative. The former camps themselves have totally disappeared or are in the process of becoming and have given way to the development of larger villages such as those of Plaine des Papayes and Fonds du Sac, villages that are more important than in the region of Flacq, where the rural population is more dispersed because it is more numerous to have remained close to the randomly acquired divisions of lands, compared to the inhabitants of the other regions. Large planters in the northern regions, Pamplemousses in particular, are more likely to live in the cities of Plaines Wilhems such as Quatre Bornes, Beau Bassin, Curepipe or Triolet,67 while the large planters from Flacq are more likely to have remained in their region of origin.68

Religious and cultural transformations  71

It follows from this that any change of location, any site modernisation, even the smallest, directs an analysis to be made of economic, social or political changes. A first distinction was made between large and small planters, because it intervenes in all cases, often indirectly, to explain the formation of temples and the strategies pursued by the associations. This difference between large and small planters is not a hierarchical one, rather it takes the form of a statutory division distinguishing high and low castes, but it is not always easy to determine the root cause of the differences instituted in associative and cultural games. This is why we have linked the way in which Indo–Mauritian religious and cultural institutions operate with the ongoing modernisation of the economy. Therefore, the management of a temple and its federative process always takes the more or less completed form of a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This order of fact cannot be ignored. We conclude, tentatively, this long introductory part, stating that the balance of the country’s internal relations is in fact based on a dominant business model inherited from the production relations originally established in the sugar establishments. From the outset, they have been in unstable equilibrium and often contested, as shown by the often tense relations of capital and labour that have been played out in sugar history.69 However, the employers’ model, through the possibility of negotiation and open contestation within the framework of the state management of power, is present in the interstices of the functioning of religious and cultural institutions, as we will see in the chapters to come.

The corpus of inquiry/survey We chose to present the survey data exhaustively by organising them thematically. These sources and data were presented in Pavitranand Ramhota’s DEA thesis and will eventually be edited with a CD-ROM.70 The first part presents the field notes, grouped in chronological order and follows the progress of the surveys. The interviews in the original language, Bhojpuri, Creole and sometimes Hindi, have all been translated, commented on in footnotes and organised into three different chapters. This first classification by chapters of interviews and cults studied highlights the different levels of possible treatment of kalimais. All these themes have been the subject of a first analytical treatment of survey data, which allows us to go further by problematising the cultural and religious to take into account periods of history in Mauritius, which take a particular relief in the face of contemporary changes. We will trace the history of the small and large plantation, we will highlight the correlative development of the temples and we will reconstruct the history of trade union movements and cooperatives since 1930, the founding of the Labour Party (PTR) and more generally, we will characterise the process of forming an “urban middle class” 71 as a commercial and industrial bourgeoisie resulting from community distinctions before the 1968 National Independence. We will, thus, better understand the gap between

72  Religious and cultural transformations

intercultural practices observances in the daily life and work of people and the dominant community ideology. The existence of tension phenomena has been observed at the time of the formation of electoral alliances to run the country after the elections. The caste and community strategies that are expressed in the conduct of the ceremonies are closely related to the most favourable ethnic and caste alliance72 strategies for obtaining the majority of the votes in the local elections or for establishing themselves as the dominant group in a working session. The collection of this information was done in different local contexts and in situations of investigation particularly useful to the knowledge of what makes sense in the course of the cults. For this reason, one must have the texts of interviews made in advance, field notes taken and written on a day-to-day basis, to recall the conditions under which the information came into being. Our privileged interviewees were the priests in charge of the cults, the presidents of the cultural associations, the founding families of the kalimais and/or the temples and, of course, the faithful “devotees” adepts of this or that deity honoured in a relationship of mutual interdependence or not in the course of ceremonies. All these actors have agreed to describe the rites, the symbols, to tell the story of kalimai, to specify the way ceremonial rituals take place and to present a kind of calendar of ceremonies celebrated throughout the year. We have supplemented our field information with archival research on notarial deeds, which establishes the legal status of cult sites. We also engaged in a global ref lection on the electoral system to highlight the local strategies implemented and their impact on the relations between groups, on the variation of possible alliances and the results recorded in all the elections that took place since 1968. A certain number of correlations have also been established to show that one cannot establish oneself as a kalimai or a temple and an association by the sole fact of his individual will. The process of founding kalimais and/or temples obeys moral rules, economic conditions, the charism of the founder legitimised by his previous experience of social work whose benefits have been recognised by people, giving him their trust. The ideology of the gift on which this morality of social implication and the necessary support of the difficulties of the people rests as a founder of a kalimai or its final justification in the expression of more or less unified communal links, despite and in spite of the differences of caste, class, gender or generational that can manifest themselves in everyday life. Individual success, when it occurs, is then loaded with a political dimension based on the idea of the existence of a universal cosmology that leads the living to go through progressive stages, the four ages of life. Karma, which represents the third age of life, is the one during which one acquires the possibility of acting for the collective well-being before passing to the fourth agni moksha, representing the liberation of the soul, which prepares the entry into eternal life. The people we met belonged to the age group of the social maturity of the third and fourth ages: our sources were generally between 40 and 80 years old. On the other hand, we never selected an informant on the basis of his statutory caste membership since it was through the study

Religious and cultural transformations  73

of kalimais that we selected them in order to reconstitute the historical mode of production of the differences as well as the modes of dispute, if any.

The researcher in the survey/inquiry The photographs of the places of worship and ceremonies are presented throughout this book. These documents are part of a dual practice called participant observation in which researchers, foreign and national – who worked as a team73 – have chosen to agree on a division of labour. The national researcher came from the community studied, belonging to the statutory group of Vaishs, and the foreign researcher, in charge of the programme, had a perfectly differentiated role. This particular survey strategy was reinforced by the fact that many interviews were conducted in Bhojpuri mother tongue. An interview was conducted, partly in Hindi, because of the presence of an Indian expert at the time of the survey. This dual positioning, internal and external, vis-à-vis the groups studied was consistent with the way in which the Indian society generally manages its relationships to foreigners. It is all the more accepted that it does not seek to merge more or less artificially with the other vis-à-vis which is always marked, symbolically, a difference. We know that the Indian religion does not want to be proselyte. One is born in a religion and conversion makes little sense for Hindus. On the other hand, the Hindu religion feeds on all the inf luences of other religions and is constantly changing. For this reason, our research has been directed primarily towards indicating the particular context in which ceremonial practices and rituals take place: the economic, social, political environment, all the factors that interact in the cultural ceremonies cultural and religious life were taken into account in the study of associative practices. We can therefore say that the photographs that we have selected to support our analyses are materials of true objectification of the meaning to be accorded to cults. We consider each cult photograph selected in this book as giving, from the outset, a series of information that is commented on: the respective relationship of deities between them, those present and those that are absent. At this level of analysis, no “talk about” is necessary, only the external view of the object of worship is relevant to the existing informative content. When it comes to photographs taken at certain times of the course of a cult, one must know that the foreign researcher was absent from the photographs he was taking. The national researcher could, though, be caught in the mass of the faithful with which he communicated while practising the observations he recorded in a field notebook. Only once, a rear view of the foreign researcher was taken by the national researcher but, it is because he had become an actor of the event, pressed by the faithful who had organised this cult to satisfy the role that they had assigned him, marking the preferential relationship of the god Dhi with the world of white proprietors. This unique situation, unprecedented in the investigation, has led the analysis to be made some rights rites of kalimais, which symbolically

74  Religious and cultural transformations

integrate the foreigner, by reference to the first sugar mill owners when they were authorised to build the first kalimais. ​

FIGURE 2.11  Researcher

of the foreign origin is offering to Dhi in the Kalimai of Clémencia. Dhi represents the white owner of the old mill.

In other photographs, we see crosses or more abstract representations of a deity as compared, figured by stones with a rounded shape at the bottom and at the top. ​

FIGURE 2.12 Appearance

of a new prayer site, representing crosses.

These photographs guided the analysis of certain kalimais cults by reference to a syncretism of Catholic and Hindu religions that had to take place at a given period of sugar development and which we have sought to date. Our hypothesis of periodisation of this type of possible evolution of certain cults dates back to the time of the sugar boom during the life of Father Laval who developed, in the 1840s, a catechesis centred on the worship of the Virgin Mary who did not never cease to be prayed by the faithful who go to the worship of Father Laval, a sort of pilgrimage organised every year on the anniversary of his death.

Religious and cultural transformations  75

The so-called participant observation: the assigned place of researchers, foreign and national We participated in many cults of different nature, sometimes celebrated at the initiative of families like the Baharia puja at the Kalimai of Petite Cabanne, a ceremony at the Kalimai of Verger Clémencia, sometimes it was collective cults involving the faithful of the same religious obedience as the ceremony Aryasamaj at Camp de Masque, sometimes it was cults involving villagers dependent on the same temple as the ceremony Shri Rama Mandiram or it was a specific cult whose founder had the project to transform the kalimai in to a temple at Camp de Mask located at the place Royal Road. We also participated in Cavadees in Port Louis, Mahébourg and Quatre Bornes but it was not possible to make in-situ surveys as the number of people appeared important, from all over the island because of the mobilisation of all the associations and federations for this feast which takes place on a holiday not worked. We also participated in the Mahashivratree, which is the great Hindu pilgrimage to Grand Bassin (the sacred lake)but we have not studied it as it is the setting for political interventions and speeches on the place of worship. Hindu ministers in office, including the prime minister and the deputy prime minister, seek to expand the social base of their electorate. To implement an analysis of the event, it would have been necessary to work with representatives of religious associations and temples that organised pilgrimage from the places of origin of residences to Grand Bassin. We preferred to focus on direct approaches, from below, of cults to highlight the global symbolic transformation and relationships established with national federations. The notion of participant observation has taken on a particular character with regard to this survey. Indeed, it is not the speeches that have been determinant of our analyses, despite the importance of interviews in our work. Because, Indian society never seeks to explain its modes of behaviour, nor to give visibility to the conf licting relationships often reported behind the cults. It’s the opposite that happens. The cults are there only to magnify the power of the divine work in all possible ways, by the choice of divinities associated in the rituals, by the nature of the offerings made, by the sacrifices suffered and the fasting practised. Ritual is the most explicit form of the meaning of an event whose outcome is seen as a fundamental otherness that separates the so-called “devotees” from the simple participant. This is why the content of the interviews focused on the description of the rituals, the identification of deities mainly at work and in relation of mutual interdependence. We finally understood that the implicit social relations of the community of the faithful were played out on the relations established with the deities. We have provoked a-posteriori meetings and outside the cults, on the place of kalimais or temples to evoke as in a talking shop, the singular relations existing between the deities, correlating them to the conf licts evoked as being at the origin of the evil-being, sickness, domestic violence, etc. And both levels of analysis – study of rituals and interviews provoked outside worship in the sacred space of kalimais – have been brought closer together. We then observed

76  Religious and cultural transformations

the existence of a duality at work in cults: that which opposes the Sanatanists and Aryasamajists,74 or the cleavage between the Vedic rites and puranic rites that can coexist in the same cult.75 Our socialisation had little importance for the understanding of the social meaning of this duality at work, because it was the ritual and the way in which it evolved during the ceremony which was to guide and direct our gaze on reality. We also objectified our social position in the demonstrations and understood that people’s trust in us was based, in fact, on the memory of the active role played by the father of Pavitranand Ramhota, a resident of the Flacq region, well known by his a teacher, who has seen several generations of young schoolchildren succeed, who appreciated him and have since become personalities in public life. In addition to his profession of educator at the school, Mr Ramhota Sr. was known to have been a social worker who followed the movement Independent Forward Bloc (IFB),76 founded by one of the leaders of the National Independence Sookdeo Bissoondoyal. In addition, the Ramhota family is known to have donated land located on the road from Port Louis to Flacq where an Aryamandir temple77 was erected, one that has today been renovated. The awareness movement of the Bissoondoyal brothers who accompanied independence began in the Flacq region, where the largest sugar company, FUEL, is located today. Where the Indian capitalists have invested their assets alongside the whites: it seems today that there has been a “joint venture” between Leclézio, Gujadhur and the MCB. Although Pavitranand Ramhota did not declare himself a follower of the Aryasamaj religious movement towards (visà-vis) our interviewees, they could symbolically understand his belonging to this religious association when he wore – as he has done several times – a white uniform worn by the faithful of the Aryasamaj movement. The villagers participating in other rites accepted Pavitranand Ramhota and spoke to him in spite of everything, out of loyalty to the relations they had had with his father during their youth. It can, thus, be seen that the internal relations instituted are based not so much on the individualisation of relations with the national researcher, but on the collective dimension of the relations established with the Ramhota family, considered to have followed and put into practice the religious teaching relating to the ideology of dharma mentioned above. It was on this type of general relation to the Hindu religion that Ramhota’s participation in rituals, different from his own practice, made sense for the needs of the research cause. The latter has always preferred to assert his belonging to an undifferentiated social chain, paternal or maternal line, quasi-ethnic type (the Vaish) rather than recall, in one way or another, the caste difference supported by certain rituals practised like those of Sanatanists. In the Ekadassi ceremony of the Vallée des Prêtres, Pavitranand had the choice between a formal game of assimilation to Sanatanist practices,78 placing him immediately within the community of devotees present at this cult, or to assert himself in a totally external position, which allowed him to have a more independent point of view, both dialectical and critical, like the one he had built through his ambivalent experience of religion by the fact that

Religious and cultural transformations  77

his mother remained follower of Puranic rituals different from those practised by his father, who belonged to Aryasamaj. The interview with the officiating priest of the Vallée des Prêtres was very controversial and caused, during the ceremony, many reactions in the assembly of the faithful. The latter staging or, rather, putting on the main stage the dialectic of the relations lived between maternal and paternal, whose lineages did not necessarily share the same rites between which a choice had always to be made at the time of the traditional marriage. Many women chose to keep the rites of their father and did not want to adopt those of their husbands when different. Interculturality within a family is a reality, often invisible, but still at work in Indian society. To complete this table, the presence of the foreign researcher was also at the origin of another type of analysis related to the particular mode of closure of the society on itself. We were able to realise the relationship of the community with the outside by a permanent interrogation of the relations established by the people with the foreign researcher. Suzanne Chazan’s participation in the cults was not considered bizarre. At most people wondered if the foreign researcher was not participating in the cult, like the Baharia of Petite Cabanne because she would have made a promise that she had to fulfil. This attitude towards the foreign person has been constant regardless of the cult studied. We also observed that people had little opportunity to externalise the problems for which they made gifts to deities on the occasion of vows and promises they fulfilled. When there was ritual tension in the ceremonial exercise, as in the amourou puja cult of the kalimais of Camp de Masque and Camp de Masque Pavé, we could observe that forms of intercultural dialogue were being put into practice by the mediation of certain divinities more transversal than others to balance the relationships between participants from northern India and Telugus, for example. On this occasion we had to deal with ritual arrangements that were to be interpreted from a total point of view, simultaneously relating to the balances of ethnic and caste relations, acting more or less directly on the electoral choices at the local and national levels. In reality, the term participatory observation is ultimately unsuitable for highlighting very simple investigative situations. We have used this term from a practical point of view to point out that we have been attentive to the dual positioning of researchers, both foreign and national, and to their fundamental separation in investigations. There was observation, but no participation. The place of the researchers has in all cases been assigned and limited to the situation of guests, who are given only a relative importance but who are treated amicably by the invitation to the meal, the place determined in the worship and at times, incidentally, by the reminder of ritual prohibitions such as that which consists, for example, in not making certain shots at the time of the sacrifice of animals. This scene could not be filmed when the beast was beheaded with one sword and fell to the ground. On the other hand, one could photograph the head after it fell to the ground. This ceremonial moment was, indeed, considered important because if the animal did not die with one sword stroke, it was because there

78  Religious and cultural transformations

must have been an unsolved problem in the community of the faithful present at the ceremony. It was then necessary to identify the evil and fight it for a period of time unknown in the village until the return to equilibrium. The complexity of the subject on the religious/cultural functioning of the Hindus in Mauritian society forced us to situate, with precision, the context and the manner in which the social categories of the various censuses were instituted, and the meaning given them in relation to the notion of “group” or “community.” After having reconstructed the “genesis of the multi-cultural society of Mauritius” and exposed the way in which we organised our research, we enter into the heart of the subject by the presentation in the second part of a “typology of kalimais.” From the outset, the main questions concerning the relationship of society to the history of the beginnings of the sugar industry and its transformation are posed. The third part is about the religious/cultural innovations through the comparative descriptions of the rituals of Baharia Puja and amourou puja which we participated in the district of Moka-Flacq, Finally, the fourth part allows us to enter into the full significance of the direct political and economic meaning of contemporary religious effervescence and to say that religion is indeed the place where the changes in Indo–Mauritian society and its differentiations are inscribed in the globalisation of today. The acme of this demonstration is found in chapter twelve “the new deal” with less evocative title because it symbolises a general change of society than because it updates the different records of religion’s relationship with politics, economics and institutions. A barycentre of relations between the state and society, religion is the framework of the social dynamism of Hindus in contemporary Mauritian society, which reacts to the economic inequalities being made by the multiplication of associations and federations. These new associations are affirming in the public space to mark the significant changes in the economic position of the different ethnic groups and caste inequalities whose equilibrium has become unstable and the versatile alliances as we have seen in the light of the results of the last national elections. We know, from now on, that it will not be so easy to obtain a 60/0 as was the case from 1967 to 2000. Is this the progress of democracy? We would be inclined to believe this from the moment that the electoral openness about caste and ethnic strategies is accompanied by a heightened awareness of the need to find the path of national integration rather than to practice strategic retreats and to strengthen the boundaries of caste, class and race.

Notes 1 “Indo-Mauritians,” all religions combined, also participate in a very small proportion to the worship of Père Laval. We noted this characteristic feature of the reference to Père Laval that we will not elaborate on in this work. 2 The most important part of the survey corpus was gathered from 1992 to 1996 when the framework agreement was signed between the Research Institute for Development in Cooperation (IRD) and the Mauritius Research Council

Religious and cultural transformations  79

(MRC). The programme agreement was signed in this general framework by the Mahatma Gandhi Institute (MGI), under the directorship of the late Uttama Bissoondoyal. Since 1996, S. Chazan-Gillig and P. Ramhota have continued their collaboration and the f ield data have been updated each year. The last update is from November 2007. 3 Such a study of Father Laval should be placed in the context of the beginnings of sugar history and followed by in-situ observations of changes in the practices of the faithful as well as of the clergy in the same context of globalisation as for research on kalimais. The reference thesis in this respect is that of Didier Colson L’église à l’île Maurice 1840–1895. Une église en île-de-France (“The church in Mauritius 1840–1895. A church in the Isle of France”) under the direction of Jean-Marie Mayeur, two volumes, 700 pages (Colson, 1983). 4 Kalimai is the altar of the worship of the seven sisters of the goddess Kali. Originally, it is a cult of the outside, but we will see the modifications of which this cult is the object, diffusing itself in the space of the urban modernity, taking place sometimes inside in the space of the temple, sometimes outside. We will see the different types of kalimais studied in the first part. 5 In Tamil, a temple is called a kovil, while Hindus call their temples mandirs, when it is a big temple, or mandup for smaller buildings some of which we will present, like the Kalimai of Beauvallon. See glossary. 6 These are the astrological signs relating to the birth of people and the problems they have in their daily lives. For example, if we depend on the planets Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the planets symbolising the snakes Rahu and Ketu are negative signs that require that certain prayers and offerings be made when we are in certain difficulties like family problems and domestic, poverty, health problems, etc. The sun, the moon, Mercury and Venus are good signs by which one has health, peace and prosperity at the same time. 7 Thus, we have been able to collect the particularly significant songs of the divine essence of Kali: The song of Neem (sacred tree with medicinal qualities that grows in kalimais), the song of Hurhur and Gulaïtis (which are f lowers planted in the kalimais), the song of the deity Ambe Gauri symbolically represented by a stone, the song of Tulsi (a tree plant whose popular oral tradition says that this deity was married to Vishnu) and Harparawri whose song liberates the rain. See Pavitranand Ramhota, 2002, thesis preparation for thesis defence Les cultes populaires indiens à l’île Maurice (“The Indian popular cults in Mauritius”), 405 pages. 8 See glossary. The pujari is a Tamil priest and the dewassia is a divine healer. 9 As we saw in the previous chapter. 10 We specify une fois de plus (“once again”) because we have worked to give meaning to a news event “the Kaya affair” which has been of a great wealth of symbolic meaning having been emblematic of a necessary national integration. The latter has found a way of partial achievement through the political alternation of the off ice of Prime Minister of political leaders from the two dominant communities: “the general population” and the Indian community whose MMM/MSM parties were allies from 1980. 11 The memory struggles symbolically committed in Mauritius preceded by about ten years the celebration of the memory of slavery in all the countries of the world which has made a new cross threshold of awareness of those who have a history intrinsically linked to that of the formation of empires and their competition in the western Indian Ocean. It is not surprising that the next phase of the decade of the 2000s places contemporary memory issues in the global space. 12 Recall that the same historical amalgam of plural identities unified in the “general population” occurred by reference to the Catholic religion obscuring the old and new inequalities of the population of the former Ile-de-France. The general population and Indians are finally two artificial categories of ranking of the population. 13 The language of Tamil called Tamoul.

80  Religious and cultural transformations

14 The government spoke of “the arrival of the first Indians,” but they were the first “coolies” contracted as agricultural workers in the sugar factories. 15 “The freedmen and Indians of the Ile-de-France in the 18th century” (1721–1803). 16 Our interviewee of Tamil origin was Mayor of Rose Hill in 1986. So, he authorised the installation of the monument of the first Indians at this part of the island. 17 At the time when we gathered this data, the Mayor of Rose Hill was a Tamil. 18 Gaetan Duval was liked by all the Creoles and he was named the king. 19 It is not possible to present community statistics in Mauritius other than by direct survey. It is enough for us here to believe the well-established fact that Tamils are a minority in terms of demography in all these places where, despite this, they have been able to have elected representatives in state power. 20 Other municipalities, such as Triolet, have promoted the MMM. But in this case, it was North Indians who made the difference by their internal caste divisions which is reported/seen on the 1976 elections. From that date, the high-caste Hindu Baboojees and Marazs lost in some districts, the hegemonic position they had under the first Ramgoolam Government while in others they retained their power. 21 Reference of the article already cited. See bibliography Suzanne Chazan-Gillig. 22 This duality at work in the production of legitimacy is also projected on the interpretation given by linguists about the origin of Creole Mauritian whose theories are divided into four major currents, the first three of the same kind to presuppose the origin of the beginnings and the last is opposed to the pre-established notion of “target language.” And the question posed by the linguists of the origin of the Creole language followed this line of sharing of colonial inf luences, French and English. Two theories of the origin of the Creole language clash today, that of Robert Chaudenson and that of Philippe Becker. These authors have two opposite approaches to the birth and development of the Creole language in Mauritian society. 23 It is possible for sugar workers to prematurely retire in return for land benefits and an allowance calculated in proportion to the years of service in the company. Later, there will be measures taken for the redundancies in the sugar sector. 24 These are foreign investment in development. 25 See the press kit anticipating and announcing that Apravassi Ghat was included in the list of sites that are part of World Heritage. This news was covered by all the press organs during the whole of July, more precisely from 6–27 July 2006. See bibliography. We have listed the articles in the bibliography because the titles give the atmosphere and the differential way in which this news have been received and orchestrated. 26 In the conditions of admissibility of the files to become a world heritage site, the international commission of UNESCO fixed many criteria to satisfy among which rank there is the notion of “core zone” which is the central core of the project and the “buffer zone” which sets the area of lands that must be subject to the freeze prohibiting any human enterprise. 27 Given its hyperrealism and not in the sense of “primitive.” 28 We thank Julie Peghini for providing us the press kit that she has prepared for an article in preparation to illustrate her dissertation on the theme of “Difference and Otherness in Contemporary Mauritian Society.” We have referred to some press articles of his corpus to give an understanding of the weight of oral history, written, in the archives and reconstituted in the present reports. This theme opens the research that Pavitranand Ramhota and I have conducted over more than 15 years on the Hindu popular religion seen as a reinvented tradition on the place of migration. 29 Dufoix report tabled in the National Assembly. See bibliography. 30 Vijaya Teelock is an historian, professor of history at the University of Mauritius who has defended a thesis on the subject of slavery in Mauritius, which gave rise to the publication of the book Bitter Sugar, cited in reference. 31 We pay homage to Gérard Althabe by taking the title of his book on Madagascar, he who had agreed to follow the academic work of some Mauritian researchers’

Religious and cultural transformations  81

programme led by the IRD with the MGI. He was not allowed to read the theses and publications that followed the field study period. 32 See bibliography of press articles. 33 In a recent Mauritian press article in 2005. 34 See bibliography “Le grand Derangement.” 35 There is the New Year, Taipoosam Cavadee, the anniversary of the abolition of slavery, the Mahashivratree, the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), the National Independence Day, the Ougadi, Labour Day, Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid-ul-Fitr, All Saints’ Day, the anniversary of the arrival of the first coolies, Diwali and Christmas. It was in the year 2000, under the MMM/MSM Alliance Government, that two new holidays were decreed by the parliament. These are the anniversaries of the abolition of slavery on 1 February 1835 and the arrival on 2 November 1834 of the first workers on the plantations. Each regional sub-group of India, Muslims, Catholics and Chinese had to choose each one of the feasts (festivals) they considered the most important of the religious cycle. For example, Catholics had to choose between the anniversary of the birth of Christ (Christmas) and the anniversary of his death (Easter). For the Indians it was necessary to sacrifice the feast (festival) of Holi, the day of colours symbolising the equality of all before God in favour of Diwali, the festival of lights symbolising the victory of good over evil. 36 Père Laval had a particular social position in the context of a society still marked by slavery. As in other African countries, in Madagascar, for example, this priest, who listens to workers living in difficult conditions, has reinterpreted the local culture in terms of the Catholic religion. The worship of Père Laval has great correspondences with the cults dedicated to Kali. The Hindu popular cults themselves have been transformed by the dominant Catholic tradition practised by people of colour living in the camps and in the city. 37 The “camps” are the places of residence of the labourers who were founded at the time of sugar development. These camps were spread around the property depending on the proximity of the fields where the gangs of workers dependent on each sirdar (a kind of foreman) had to cultivate and maintain the cane fields. 38 The term corpus is used to refer to the grouping of survey data around a plan that varies according to the final articulation of the subjects treated. These are materials of different orders. Oral traditions, songs, interviews and debates whose chronological reconstitution makes it possible to cross the information and to have a critical look at the progression of the investigation as well as the various positions acquired to clear the meaning of things (in phenomenological terms) from which the a-posteriori ref lection on the “for-itself ” of things can be born and thus reach their double general and specific meaning. Pavitranand Ramhota presented a mimeographed document of these “Sources, survey documents and research routes” which will be released shortly on CD-ROM. 39 The power system Panchayat does not belong to the religious, it manages the daily relationship of family and work in the rural context whose collective relationship to the land is of religious essence. 40 The Rig Veda is one of the four sacred texts of Hinduism written by the wise men of ancient times. Louis Dumont developed the theory of Varnas and made the connection with the four ages of life. He states that “the old conception has been kept in the essentials: the order of increasing status includes: service, economic activity, political domination, priesthood.” And, further, he adds “The sources of income are subordinated, as facultative, to religious purposes, even if this entails what we tend to regard as a contradiction, namely that the Brahman is characterized in relation to the other two-times born by inessential activities or by teaching, sacrif ice, and religious service.” He concludes “The focus is on function rather than birth.” 41 We will present later in the appendix the text of these verses. 42 Louis Dumont, see bibliography.

82  Religious and cultural transformations

43 See the previous chapter on the role of sirdar, a kind of foreman in sugar factories. The term sirdar has been retained in the administrative functions. It designates an intermediate hierarchical position corresponding to a more or less hierarchical division of labour. 44 The choice of associated divinities in kalimais is not random and their association in the kalimai public space indicates the existence of a real association between members of different groups. 45 The “factory area” is a territorial concept that delimits and fixes the sale of canes of independent planters to the corresponding sugar mill. All planters who have their cane field on the territory of the same “factory area” cannot sell their canes anywhere else than in the corresponding sugar mill. 46 Those who built these stone buildings engraved the date, their names. Thanks to a Tamil source from this distant past, we visited these buildings that bear inscriptions engraved in stone. This is the oldest part of the grand mosque of Port Louis built by the artisans of Madras or Pondicherry in India. 47 Like the Arlanda family. They had almost all adopted the Christian religion without which, at that time, it was difficult to progress economically. 48 Table taken from the sources used by Guy Rouillard in The History of Sugar Mills that we have completed by a selection of notarial acts of mills existing at the National Archives in Port Louis and at the archives of the registration of companies. 49 Whose family was part of the local administration of the East India Company. Some of the former clerks of the great trading period are like the Pitchen, the Parsuramen and Nagapen families, known from Mauritius, the latter having been Minister of Culture under the Jugnauth government and the third, Archpriest of the cathedral of Port Louis. 50 Historically, it was Tamils who controlled the trade on the Port Louis market. They were also involved in the sugar trade and had organised an intermediate ring repairing jute bags that were passing through Mauritius from India to Madagascar. 51 Sooriamoorthy thought that the founding of the temples had been the business of the traders who worked in Port Louis and Mahébourg for the import and export as well as the supply of the boats that were doing their work in Mauritius. In fact, planters and traders were associated with family ties in planting and trade cases that were not yet separate branches of activity. 52 Note that Honourable Arlanda, identified as Tamil Chrétien was actually mixed race like Fabre and, therefore, assimilated to “Europeans and half-breeds.” 53 “Small fragmentation” and “large fragmentation” are two notions developed by Richard Allen who studied through the notarial archives the social and economic consequences of the two periods of sugar development during which land was sold. We will develop this point in the next chapter. 54 The founders of the temples were the privileged intermediaries of the sugar-producing owners and the colonial administration. Thus, Gokool first converted to the Christian religion and, as a result, was named sirdar of the property where he worked. Then, after acquiring freehold plantation land at Mon Loisir, he resumed his Hindu religion and then founded the first Hindu temple. 55 Information provided in 2002 by the representative of the Sanantan Dharma Temples Federation. 56 More than half of the first Indian coolies will renew their contracts beyond five years. 57 We use this term in preference to “labourers” because the workforce now employed in the cane plantations for a renewable contract period of five years, shared the same harsh operating conditions as the workers in the industry Metallurgical in the suburbs of London at the same time. 58 See Chapter 1. 59 The term kovil means temple in the Tamil language. See glossary.

Religious and cultural transformations  83

60 Shivala is a temple dedicated to Shiva. The term mandir is more general and means temple in the Hindi language. 61 Phuliar is a small village, located in the enclosure of the sugar estate of Bellevue Maurel of the district of Riviere du Rempart. It is here that the commemorative monument to the arrival of the first North Indians was erected in 1984. 62 See glossary. It is a place of prayer where Indo-Mauritians learned Hindi and learned the traditions of their native groups in India. The Baitkas played a decisive role in raising the consciousness of Indians to the need for their independence. Indeed, it is the philosopher Basdeo Bissoondoyal who founded the first baitakas who multiplied rapidly in all villages where there was a high concentration of Hindu population. 63 Maps of the survey regions: de Flacq, Port Louis and Mahébourg, Pamplemousses and Papaya Plain. 64 See glossary: red powder that is put on the forehead as a sign of fervour to mother Kali. 65 These photographs will be commented in the course of the book. 66 The Indo-Mauritians have several federations, which are all subsidised by the state. Mauritius Sanantan Dharma Temples Federation, Mauritius Sanatan Dharma Mandir Federation, Mauritius Tamil Temples Federation, Mauritius Andra Maha Sabha; the Mauritius Marathi Mandali; the Arya Ravived Pracharni Sabha, the Rajput Gahlot Maha Sabha and, finally, the Mauritius Gujrati Samaj. 67 It was in Triolet that was elected the so-called “father of the Mauritian nation” Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (PTR) who was the first head of government of the Independence from 1968 to 1982. It is also in Triolet that the MMM has had the political destiny that we know today. Dev Virasawmy was elected by an overwhelming majority in 1978. This was the harbinger of radical political change, uniting different communities within the same party and defining an alliance with the new Hindu PSM party distinct from the PTR. 68 The study of land structures shows that large planters are less numerous in Flacq than in the north of the island. The small planters remained on the spot even if they have a salaried job in the administration. In the Flacq area, the smallholding lands were acquired in full ownership: so is the fragmentation located at Camp de Masque and Camp de Masque Pavé where the inhabitants developed the pineapple crop for the local market but also for export. These small planters are often also sharecroppers of the big planters whose most of the families are installed in city, on the high plateaux to facilitate the schooling of the children or to undertake business. Only a small nucleus of parents remains to manage the land of the property on the spot. 69 When the tension was too great, the colonial administration commissioned an inquiry, a sort of audit of the sugar companies. The most complete of these survey reports is that of the Sweetenham commission (see bibliography). 70 Les cultes populaires indiens à l’île Maurice : approche anthropologique (“The Indian popular cults in Mauritius: anthropological approach”) 33 interviews, 79 photographs, four maps, 408 pages. Mimeographed. 71 S. Chazan developed an explanatory theory of the political social meaning of an event that destabilised, for three days, the balance of dominant ethnic relations in the year 2000: “the Kaya affair.” The Creole and Hindu Métis singer Kaya died in police cells after being subjected to police brutality while being interrogated for smoking joints. There were all the ingredients of an ethnic conf lict – the majority of the police being Hindu, and Kaya, known as “Creole,” was, in fact, of mixed race, Hindu and Creole. The author has shown that the discomfort, which has been expressed for three days in the streets of the cities of Plaines Wilhems, has a specific relationship with the increasingly difficult living conditions of the urban middle class. The conf lict was of a class nature, which partly but only partly coincided with the original ethnic formal content. 72 The notion of “Best Loser” the best loser in the electoral game and that of “general population” that we presented in the previous chapter are realities that tend to

84  Religious and cultural transformations

limit the chances of social f luidity independent of historical, racial and social/ ethnic differences. 73 For the collection and analysis of primary survey data. 74 The Sanatanists remained attached to the animal sacrifices in rituals dedicated to Kali. Aryasamajists have an almost monotheistic conception of religion and devote special fervour to the god of fire, Agni. The male/female division does not intervene in the Aryasamajist ritual and it is the women who officiate around the fire whereas the gender distinction is fundamental in the unfolding of the Sanatanist rituals. 75 We attended the worship amourou puja in the course of which the Vedic and Puranic rituals followed one another. 76 This political movement did not last, but many informants nostalgically spoke of this period of preparation for National Independence during which we saw Muslims, Creoles and Hindus working side by side for their independence. 77 The photographs of these buildings are presented in the various chapters where we present our analysis. 78 The growing distance between rites practitioners, Sanatanist and Aryasamajist, appeared as fundamental because it is to affirm or deny the importance of the divisions of castes. In a general way the Aaryasamajists militated on the eve of National Independence, under the inf luence of Basdeo Bissoondoyal, for a surpassing of the statutory inequalities between Indians of all origins, whereas the Satanists affirm themselves as attached to the division of caste.


Kalimai Verger of Clémencia: small and large planters Kalimai Verger of Clémencia is located at the foot of Mountain Faience below the road to Camp de Masque that leads to Bel Air (see Figure 3.1). Difficult to access and invisible from the road, this Kalimai is located in a wooded area where the old sugar mill that belonged to the Fabre family (of French origin) was located. This mill has totally disappeared and left no remnants behind. The inhabitants of the village of Clémencia cultivate big plantations of pineapple and bananas. The big planters are absent and the small planters are either owners or sharecroppers of the big planters and grow some sugarcanes. The village today has 1,355 inhabitants according to the 20001 census estimate. Our interviewees were women aged 50 to 70. The eldest among them claims to have a minister cousin elected under the MSM 2 banner, who has moved from the Ministry of Culture to the Housing Ministry. The oldest woman, from the village of Grande Retraite, a village near the former factory of the company Constance (concentrated today in Beauchamps), who spoke the most. A second person was from the same generation, but initially from Fonds du Sac, a village in the north of the island. She was much quieter. Both have a very different position vis-à-vis the kalimai and we develop later how their social situations, related to different origins, intervene in their ceremonial practices and their representations of local deities. Each of these women was married, that is to say, promised to their husbands, when they were girls from the ages of eight to ten years, as part of a gawna3 ceremony, but it is only at age 16 that the girls joined their husbands. The wedding is an opportunity to sing kalimai songs like the Tulsi’s song. Mrs K. evokes the divinities present in kalimai without mentioning them all. She tells us that each deity is represented most often by trees. Each tree has a particular song: so is the song in honour of the neem tree and the tulsi plant. We recorded these songs. DOI: 10.4324/9781003298106-4

86  The Kalimais of Clémencia

Our main interviewee began by describing the old village or camp, stating that the canes that once grew there belonged to whites. She remembers the name of Agues, the former owner of the mill, which was supplied by the water that meanders on the spot. In ancient times, at the time of the arrival of his grandparents, the place was still covered with forests. There were no vegetables or fruit, and the labourers cultivated watercress in the water of the river and taro. The green edible leaves and the spices came from small vegetable gardens reserved for the personal consumption of the labourers. The trip was on foot to the railway station. The traders came to buy the local products which they resold on the market of Port Louis. Then Mrs K. evokes the divinities present in kalimai without mentioning them all. She tells us that each deity is represented most often by trees. Each tree has a particular song: so is the song in honour of the neem tree and the tulsi plant. We recorded these songs.

The installation of kalimai The story of the kalimai’s foundation has been very precise. It is indicative of the changing religious practices that led to the emergence of families during the first generation of Indian immigrants. My father was telling me: When my grandparents’ ancestors came from India, kalimai did not exist here. There were seven women in all. They planted seven mango trees. There was nothing before. They started praying these trees – these women, in my opinion, were witches in India – When they came to Mauritius, they continued praying after planting these trees. It is only later that were put the seven stones we have just seen in the back. All the old trees have been destroyed now. It was easier to have mango trees because they did not need to put fertiliser. When the trees became big, they wondered “how they were going to pray now” because the spirits of India are quite different from those of Mauritius. She then began to dry the trees4 through the practice of witchcraft. This means that they have succeeded in their prayers. They came at midnight to pray … When they had dried the trees, had to bud again to let them know that their work was done.5 They succeeded their business and then often started again. Afterwards, there were women in Mauritius who learned this kind of craft. These women started putting the sindoor 6 on the tree. It is seen in the back. These stones came out of the mountain. There was bamboo everywhere around the kalimai. To enter,

The Kalimais of Clémencia  87

one had to bow completely. We began to pray and after the deaths of these women, we took over. It was after laying the stones that we began to pray the trees. Much is said about what must be understood from the birth of the initial social group that was established in the context of the life of the sugar camp where the kalimai is now located. In these places, the women of the camp used to gather to pray or meet. The nurturing of the social bond is symbolised by the founding of a group of three women from India and four native women from Mauritius. The mention of women, “witches in India,” indicates that they were widows when they arrived in Mauritius: for it was only widows who practised witchcraft at night, under trees, and in remote places of the sugar plantation. The relationship of social fraternity established between the two groups of women can be interpreted as the product of miscegenation that took place on plantations with the so-called “coloured people” who were already working there. The “Indo-Mauritian” society is born from the occultation of the miscegenation for the benefit of the fraternity of the sisters, represented in worship by the seven divinities of kalimai. From the first period of foundation to the second, there was a transformation of a cult assimilated to witchcraft and the emergence of a cult dedicated to the goddess Kali: the laying of trees will supplant that of stones. The rooting and emergence of Indian society is the result of the succession of generations and the symbolic break in a period that has seen social groups of different origins blending into local roots. The seven trees planted are mango trees because they belonged to the vegetation of the place but our source would specify that other economic reasons led to prefer these sacred trees to those of India as the neem and the bar. Indian origin fades in favour of a new society that adapts to local conditions of vegetation. In the second part of the text, the social mutation of the relations between migrants on the place of their first installation, here the sugar camp of Clémencia, is signified by a metamorphosis of the dead trees into trees of life, symbolising the advent of a renaissance. The new social group that emerges from this metamorphosis is assured of its success only if it is able to reproduce the experience taking into account the difference and the break with the original practices. It is by the fact of the biological reproduction of the group that this symbolic break occurs as a continuity: as the trees, after drying up from their ashes, the living inherits the ontological knowledge of their parents. Conversely, the succession of the vital f low is played out on the principle of death contained in the cycle of life that leads to death and eternity. This is the etymological meaning of the word kal, derived from Sanskrit which means time. Kali represents the abolition of time, thus the repeated cycle of life and death. The dominant theme of the cults celebrated in honour of Kali in Clémencia is that of reincarnation, the first condition of social birth. This constantly reproduced cycle of life and death is

88  The Kalimais of Clémencia

based on the struggle of good against evil. If Kali destroys the evil that is in us, it is to bring about a better life. The destruction of evil is identified with the creation from which reincarnation proceeds. The appearance of Sindoor7 at the beginning of the text, which is the red powder, separating the hair of married women into two equal parts, will specify the primary function of worship in the lives of families: the rules of the married community will be established on the day after the wedding by a chawtari ceremony celebrated at kalimai. Subsequently, the children will be introduced to Mother Kali in Baharia worship to solve a health problem; domestic conf licts will be celebrated in worship on the altar of Kali in honour of Durga, one of the seven forms of Mother Kali; inter-group conf licts, finally, generally referred to the caste, will be the object of more important cults, celebrated before the altar of kalimai, but referred mainly to Gowraya or Purmeshwari, kalimai divinities regarded as protective of certain social groups and their particular interests. Two events will be reported later, which guide the analysis to be made of the symbolic efficiency of the Kalimai Verger de Clémencia. We can distinguish several foundation stages of kalimai, referring to different periods of sugar history.

The fragmentation of property and the social system of indebtedness At first only the seven trees were worshipped. After we laid the stones, we began to pray. One day, Mr P.8 cut down all the trees. All the members of his family (father, mother, sisters-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren) died one after the other. Today, this family no longer exists. Their fields have been sold. This is why Mother Kali is believed to grant wishes. Because the ancestral witches of India, who came to implant this cult here, established the link with the country of origin. And, many people who could not get children came to pray here; those who wished to have a job come to pray here; the poor also came to pray, the poor people who have no land come here and they succeeded. So, I was saying that P.’s brother had made a promise to sacrifice a goat there. When they cut down the trees, all of Mr P.’s parents started to die. The sacrifice of the goat was useless because they had destroyed the sacred place by cutting the trees9. It was at the time of the separation when Mr P. bought the land where the Kalimai was, it was at that time that he wanted to rebuild it … He believed that because he possessed money, he could rebuild the kalimai. But it was impossible and Mr P. did not succeed. As I told you before the kalimai was very woody and we had to bend completely to enter. It is the collective status that has grounded the social bond of departure and the link to the land cannot be established individually. The fragmentation of

The Kalimais of Clémencia  89

the estates is at the origin of the social differentiation, but the act by which one buys land cannot be done without respecting the social rules established by the group, dependent on the family traditions inherited from India. The sacrifice of the goat, whose blood will f low represents the vital f low, here has no effectiveness. The emergence of independent growers has been based on family solidarity bonds that cannot be broken. The kalimai is the first place of rooting in the soil of the native land, it is also the guarantor of the reproduction of families and it marks the first signs of differentiation, which occurred during the fragmentation for which the families pooled their money and bought land. To found/start a new kalimai or to change its place, certain rules must be met. To acquire land, you need money. It is collected from worshipers who give each their share: it is the “CIT” that the Chinese call a tontine. These practices were those of lowinterest cooperative banks whose final profits were distributed among the founding members of the financial cooperative. ​

The modernisation

FIGURE 3.1 The

new kalimai of Clémencia.

The example of success is seen in the story of a person called S. who, in his endeavour to renovate the kalimai, validates this analysis. S. came to make a promise which was successfully realised. He felt indebted to do this foundation of the kalimai. He has himself changed this kalimai by installing an altar of Dhi. Previously, there was no altar of Dhi, there was only one tree that produced red leaves. There was the mill, the owner was the white “saheb.” He came for a ride in his cart, but he was injured and died on the spot. The dead saheb was the “settler” that is to say the foreman of the establishment.10 At that time, if somebody died, they would bury him there because there was no cemetery. All the whites were buried in their fields. It was only later that there were cemeteries. The settler’s grave is in the exact place where

90  The Kalimais of Clémencia

there is the Dhi today. The wife of this White later died as well as his son and all his family were buried there.11 The debt for the renovation of the kalimai and the unexplained death of a white owner are the two events that explain the efficiency of kalimai, relating to the social rooting and the conditions to be met to succeed economically. Let’s examine the facts. Unlike P., S. went into debt to restore the kalimai and was helped by others to do so. Debt is presented as a social system, symbolically related to the kalimai community of worshipers. It binds among them all who believe and bring their offerings to the goddess Kali. This is how the small independent planters acquired the lands offered for sale during the fragmentation. At the same time, the white owner, who was a foreman of the plantation, dies for an unknown reason. This unexplained death of the “colon” [sic] reveals a transgression that has not been mentioned in history but it is reasonable to assume that this is the reason given for his death. The White must have wanted to take back the land on which the kalimai was installed, not far from the mill. Like P. before, he will be the victim of the wrath of the ancestors of this place. But the story continues otherwise. It establishes the symbolic equivalence existing between the White and the Dhi. In other words, there is metamorphosis of the White who becomes the equal of the tutelary deities of the place. This direct equivalence makes it possible to formulate the hypothesis according to which this story refers to the emergence of the first independent Indian small planters, of the disappearance of other landowners who sold their land. This assumption will be verified in the rest of the interview, our informants specifying the sugar context in which this event took place.

Symbolic function of the deities: the social differences Dhi and the emergence of the class differences All these lands belonged to the “sahebs”12 and, later, when Rajkumar Gujadhur bought these lands, the mill of Clémencia was demolished. Then, the fragmentation of land began. Hindus began to buy part of the land, while the other part remained the property of the whites. That’s why, here, there is still a lot of land that belongs to whites. The saheb is the Dhi because if there is a kalimai on the ground of the Hindus, it is because the whites donated the land. When the Hindus bought the land, they tried to cut the trees that were in the kalimai, but not the whites. Look, there is the saheb’s grave here and you cannot take it off even if the land changes hands and belongs to the Hindus. Destroying this tomb could have the consequence of destroying the village of Clémencia.13

The Kalimais of Clémencia  91

She specifies the symbolic relations of the Dhi and Kalimai There is a relationship between the Dhi and the kalimai. They are friends. When the saheb brought in the “coolies” who were Hindus, they became great friends and then there was a merger.14 When they brought the Hindus, they worked for the whites because all the sugar properties belonged to the Whites and both hands started to clap together.15 The whites light the candle for the Dhi. We pray first the saheb and then the kalimai because the saheb is buried on his own land. “He is the first, it is the (the white saheb) who donated the kalimai to pray, that is why we cannot take away the Dhi He took the root.”16 When we go to work, we must pray before, to enter the field and to make a work a success. You go out to work, you have to tell your husband that you are going to work, and you have to ask permission to go out. There is a man (the Dhi) and here there are women.17 We must ask permission from the men before entering the house. The symbolic relationship of the Dhi, who represents the white owner in the kalimai, establishes the social legitimacy of access to the property of the land and guarantees the faithful against the attempts of exploitation, speculation by which the villagers can be expropriated. The content of the claims with regard to Whites is assimilated to the fusion-assimilation, which made possible the reversal of the initial domination relationship. By fusion and proximity to the white world, the first internal differentiations in the Indian world took place, distinguishing those who will become the big planters from the others. The small planters of this kalimai, who left the camps to found villages outside the sugar estate, remained there. They are, for the most part, followers of the popular, puranic or vedic rituals. The former manifest the permanence of their proximity to the Whites by the existence of the Dhi in the courtyard of their house so that it is protected from malevolence. The Dhi for these puranic rite communities symbolically represents the relationship of the rural communities with the plantation society. The second, although they have not transported the Dhi in the courtyard of their homes, they honour his presence on the site of the plantations they exploit. In both cases, whether it is the Dhi of the residence or the Dhi on the estates, land legitimacy symbolically proceeds from the obvious proximity to the white world in a general context of absence of legal guarantee of ownership rights. Indeed, the lands on which one lives or on which one works are not appropriate, that they are not registered and legitimised by a notarial act. The reference to the Dhi and the old mills today fully justifies the use of the status of prescription on lands established since 1948,18 to gain full access to land ownership.

92  The Kalimais of Clémencia

Symbolic differentiation inter and intra-community relations Our informant will continue on the theme of social differentiation by distinguishing the functions of each divinity from kalimai, mainly related to the divisions of labour and sex experienced in sugar plantations and daily life. Each deity has followers, that is, midwives pray to Gowraya. Likewise, if I am a teacher, I will pray Saraswati. All goddesses are prayed in kalimais, but Gowraya is especially addressed in offerings. In the same way, when we work, each has his job. As Madam has her job, I have mine and you are a labourer. Thus, there is a distribution of roles before the Gods. To be more precise, if you are going to work in your car in the morning, you will have to pray to a god, you will not be able to pray Gowraya19, you will pray the God you are related to.20 If a farmer leaves in the morning, he must pray to his God who will give him his well-being. As for me, I pray more to God Shiva and Goddess Durga. This enumeration concerning the divinities of the kalimai will be completed at different moments of the interview by K. She gives the names of the sisters of Kali who are Durga, Parvati, Kalika Saraswati, Phulmati, Amba, Bhawani, there are also other deities like Gowraya, Laxmi and Hanuman. Some deities are specialised in some areas: Gowraya for traditional medicine, Saraswati for education, Laxmi for money, Hanuman for physical strength and finally Dhi for plantation security. The Kankar deity is individualised in relation to other deities, who are inseparable from each other. In the middle of Kalimai there is Durga, the elder. It was by mother Durga that the sisters Parvati, Kalika, Saraswati, Phulmatee, Amba and Auba reincarnated. As for Kankar, she is a goddess, to whom offerings are made separately, whereas the goddesses of whom I have just spoken are not really separated, they are prayed together, except Kankar.

Trilogy of Dhi, Brahma (Baram) and Mahabir Swami And finally, Mrs K. will conclude by saying that Brahma protects the village, Dhi protects the place of kalimai and Mahabir Swami protects everyone because he provides protection for Kali and the seven sisters. ​ The Dhi can sit under the tree. You know that all the spirits are at the top of the trees and, in the evening, whatever the time, when you go to a Hindu, he leaves water in a container for the spirit to come and drink some water. Even in the church, one must believe that the Gods are in the engravings fixed on the wall, in the evening they go out and drink water. Therefore, there is water everywhere in the “church,” in the house, in the kalimai. If there is no water in a kalimai, spirits will come to your house around 11

The Kalimais of Clémencia  93

o’clock in the evening and you know that it is the Dhi who watches over and protects the village for which he is responsible. Therefore, we plant trees and grow f lowers so that Brahma and Dhi can rest. We cannot cut trees. We cannot move the house of God. It is the same thing as when you plant vegetables and you do not put fertilizers in them; in this case, there will be no harvest. The Dhi Baba protects the kalimai. Each Kalimai also has a Mahavir Swami who is the guardian of Kali. If the Dhi is the protector of the village, the Mahabir Swami is the protector of Kali.

FIGURE 3.2 Iconography

of Kali in the new kalimai of Clémencia in the background of the seven sisters.

The symbolic system described in kalimai distinguishes three levels of sequencing of social relations within the sugar plantation: the level of family relations and their reproduction within extended families, the level of work organisation, and the level of political emergence. First of all, in its totality, the cult of the seven sisters (see Figure 3.2) is presented as a place of elaboration and development of the social bonds that make up the extended families in the sugar camps: the six forms of Kali representation are related to the differentiation of female roles in an implicit patriarchal order. Conflicts are the result of complex relationships between step-families, sisters and sisters-in-law and mothers and mothers-in-law. The symbolic number of seven corresponds to the level of genealogical depth considered as totalising the extended family in the beginning: two ascending generations compared to the one who is of childbearing age. It is noted that in this system of relationship balance, of different branches of the same family tree, the status of the unmarried woman is represented symbolically by the seven sisters. They are all single and represent purity. Now, we know that the unmarried or widowed woman is the one who functions in the order of social relations as a man. She is often economically autonomous, represents the parental core compared to married brothers and sisters. If parents are dead, it is around her that the unity of the extended family is perpetuated. She will live preferentially in the parental home, which will thus remain jointly owned. In the case

94  The Kalimais of Clémencia

where there is no widowed or single woman, it is the youngest son who remains with his parents while other couples may have to change their place of residence. Of course, the principle of purity attached to celibacy is a moral ideal for the unmarried woman from whom she can hardly escape. Because she is the living guarantee of the non-dispersal of the inheritance after the death of the parents. It can be tentatively concluded that the kalimai is, in itself, the place of biological reproduction of extended families, of the continuity of the social fraternity around the single woman or the youngest son and the land control around which can be built an accumulation by a strategy of association with other groups of families of the same ceremonial practice. From there came the caste difference, which must be linked to the differentiation of the cultural space over successive generations. Statutory differences have taken root in inter and intra-family conflicts as well as in group alliance strategies. Differentiations by work refer to the symbolic trilogy of Brahma (also known as Baram), Hanuman and Dhi. These three deities ref lect each other. The first belongs to the so-called Vedic religion and refers to the sacred books that spread it around the world. The Vedic21 ritual shows the caste difference between the scholars associated with high castes and the common people. Brahma gains no followers because birth predetermines caste belonging from an ideological point of view. No temple is dedicated to him in particular. This deity is generally considered superior to all others. The second level of social ordering is referred to Hanuman. This deity, honoured by Tamils as by Hindus in kalimai, highlights community interaction in the practice of worship. Indeed, it is related to the uplifting story of Ram in the holy book of Ramayana, Ram is presented as having had many followers in the world, and more particularly in the north of India, whose inhabitants are those who have triumphed over the struggle between Ram and Rawan that took place in Ceylon, this southern island, now Sri Lanka. The third level refers to the Dhi of which we have seen that it represents the indissociably relationship of the white world – in the sense of the “general population” – with the Indian world, in a necessary balance and distance relationship specific to each of the communities. The ethnic division of labour, distinguishing between whites22 and settlers from the labourers has changed in the course of sugar history into a distinction between large and small planters as a result of fragmentation of ownership. The former benefited from proximity to the whites while the labourers remained in direct contact with the settlers and had little contact with the whites.

Symbolic function of Brahma: spatial differentiations and independence process The local worship space is now differentiated. We can distinguish the Kalimai Verger, on the one hand, which is the little cult situated below the road along the river, the Kalimai of Clémencia where the deity Dhi was erected and the worship of Brahma, which adjoins the Roman Catholic Church, going up along the royal road of Bel Air. In many kalimais, the key interviewees called Brahma – and some of

The Kalimais of Clémencia  95

them named it Baram – as represented by a pair of footwear made of wood. Baram and Brahma are not regularly worshipped in temples or kalimai, but are given due respect. This is to note that our sources always referred to Bramha. This differentiation of space is recent. It coincides with the emergence of the large plantation which had for its object the development of local fruits: bananas and pineapples. These productions are partly cultivated in full ownership by small planters who have land of about one to two acres maximum, sharecropping, located on the slopes of the mountains for the benefit of large and medium owners, absent, living in the cities of the Plaines des Wilhems. Some large planters have important political responsibilities. The periodisation symbolically present in the organisation of these places of worship, distinguishes the fact that Before parcelling of land, the social differences and agreement between the families of low caste have created this kalimai of “verger”. In the pre-independence era, the re-foundation of the kalimai which takes the name of the village, Clémencia, was formed from the sugar camp. The distinctions of castes are manifested: Brahma (Baram) will not be placed in the kalimai enclosure. It will remain outside and another worship area will be instituted near the Catholic Church. After independence the caste differences are linked to economic inequalities, but Brahma still represents the symbolic place of the alliance of high and small Hindu castes. Brahma’s position within the kalimai of Clémencia reveals the nature of the social relations that led to the formation of relations between Indian communities, originating in north and south India. Statutory differences instituted on the spot have been and are still referred to Brahma. The present kalimais, which placed Brahma within the precincts of worship, are clearly controlled by high caste groups. When Brahma leaves the enclosure of the place of worship, as is the case in Verger, it is because this place is now concerning low castes. The development that follows will highlight the way in which the same religious ideology, referred to the cult of Kali, can be arranged in another way, to accommodate intercommunity relations. This is what P. teaches us when he describes his kalimai and the meaning he gives to the presence of divinities in the worship space. We will compare this private place of worship, close to the kalimai of Clémencia to release the social and political meaning to be given to the differentiation of local cult

Privatisation: emergence of a monotheistic faith The second kalimai that we present now is a private kalimai (see Figure 3.3). It belongs to a man whom we will call P.23 and who was 59 years old in 1993. He was a Hindu who worked as a farmer therefore a gardener, at the government primary school of Richemare in Flacq where we met him. It should be noted

96  The Kalimais of Clémencia

that P. retired prematurely. This decision was motivated by his growing activity as a traditional healer and the number of his patients, which ensure to him a good income took up increasing amounts of time. He was paid in cash and in kind and engaged in a small vegetable business. We saw seven years later the signs of his material success, which allowed him to modernise his residence, to which he added a f loor. His garden and house reveal great prosperity. P. clearly claims popular practices that he opposes to any scholarly religion, saying during the interview that people are illiterate here but that they have intelligence and faith. The knowledge of this informant is therefore based on experience and not on books. The description of P. kalimai is interesting for several reasons. First of all because this kalimai has changed considerably during our investigations: in 2000, the worship space welcomed new divinities absent in 1993. The colours change. The stones, representing the seven sisters, are coloured black in 1993. They will go back to black in 2000, and have been painted in white between 1994 and 2000. Our informant will evoke the power of Kali in his private altar (see Figure 3.4). The change observed in 1994 coincides with a period of recession of his clientele, where, to attract people, he changed his practices. If in 1993 and 2000, it is the practices of witchcraft which dominate the activity of P., symbolised by the black colour, in 1994, they have changed and he became divine healer, symbolised by the colour white of the seven sisters. We think that the years 1993–1995 were a period of open conf lict between the kalimai of Clémencia and that of P. He probably had to negotiate with the opposing camp because he was not in a dominant position, the best proof being that he had lost a good part of his clients in the region: we consider this informant as a strategist of religious life to support a political exploitation of his art because we have also noticed his great psychological qualities and his knowledge of the traditional pharmacopoeia that make him prefer one remedy to another. In 1993, he conceives of his role as a mediator and a conscientious awakener of his clients, so that they develop the assets they have in their everyday life while giving them the opportunity to recognise the signs of power of Kali. He says: People do not want. They do not see prosperity. There is prosperity in their homes but they are not aware of it. They do not have the power to establish a relationship with the goddesses. If we build an altar that does not mean that we will offer sweets once a week. It does not mean anything. You have to make a lot of sacrifices, a lot of prayers for her, saying, “Mother, I am your child, I have to serve you, to serve you, give me strength, power, intelligence, and knowledge so that I can to tell the world, my brothers and sisters, “look at what power the mother has, pray for her.” He evokes the goddesses represented on his altar: Look, there is Saher, Kankar, Sitla, Phulwantee, Same Sahi, Durga, Kali, Purmessi, Masan, Phoolmatee.24

The Kalimais of Clémencia  97

But in 1994, he changed his explanation to focus only on ceremonies in honour of Kali. He will say that it is not by offering Puris or other dishes that one can hope to succeed in a business. He will then speak of the God Bhagwan. When he evokes the goddess Kali, he will then refer to the scholarly religion, he who declared himself in 1993 as a “self-taught” and a practitioner. Kali is then related to the three worlds of the universe: the first space is the (Parlok) the paradise, the second is the (Dharti lok) it is the earth and finally the third, it is the hell (Pattal lok). We are far from the first explanations given in 1994, which distinguished the popular religion from the scholarly religion because of its effectiveness for the common people. He focuses on God in response to the conf licts between the two kalimais, of Clémencia and Verger, while practising witchcraft in his private kalimai, which was contested locally to the point of losing his important part of its clientele. Note that the stones that represent Kali and the sisters are painted red in 1994 as in Figure 3.5. ​

FIGURE 3.3 Kali’s

iconography in the private kalimai of P.

I always say to pray to the God (Bhagwan) as we pray to the mother who helps you and we help her in return. It is this work that must be done so that everyone on earth can speak well of you. During the New Year, no one does the Puja of Mahamai; each one prays in his own house where the f lesh is cooked. From that, I am very bored. If there are two or three thousand people in a village, my brother, would you offer Kali only four pounds of gram and ten pounds of f lour? If you do that, do not prepare the f lesh at home. Would not you have enough money to make offerings to Kali, when you would have money to buy meat and satisfy your craving? I find it very hard, that’s why I make kalimai puja. I do this with my money. But, for the village, this Maï (mother) is the goddess of the three worlds. When I do the puja, I will call the goddess of the three worlds and the cardinal points; that is to say, wherever the goddess is, she will come to the village and I will say to her, “I am receiving you here and your children are looking for you, come to manifest and satisfy the wishes of your children, give to your children the power and the belief, the spirit and the health so

98  The Kalimais of Clémencia

that next year we will ask you again.” Whenever I pray to the goddess, I ask Kali to give me the strength, the spirit so that the following year we do the same thing so that everyone knows who is Maha Maï. If Kali remains present, her status is ambivalent. Kali seems to disappear in favour of a higher God. Her cult is similar to a temple where many deities are associated. Kali has extraordinary power. In common language, we say “if you believe that the stone is a God, it is a God, otherwise it is a stone.”25 When I go into a trance, I start crying. I’m crying that I’m expressing pain, but it’s crying of joy because I’m her child Kali’s presence makes me cry with joy because I’ve seen her If I work for four cents, I do not win 25 cents.26 So much faith, so much power. I pray that everyone will pray to Maha Mai. When we go to the temple, we pray Kali, at home also we pray Kali.

The ambiguity of Kali In 2000, we change the scenario. P. then evokes – in addition to the seven sisters – five other deities who are placed next to and at the foot of the altar of Kali. This situation symbolises the social inferiority from which one seeks to achieve emancipation. To meet these five goddesses, there are Chalansar Devi Kankar, Chalansar Katmari, Chalansar Aghori, Chalansar Brahma and Chalansar Chulalmari. If as most people, that they are you do not know the ranking of goddesses, most people there are only seven sisters. Apart from the seven sisters, look, there are more: five deities who are not part of the seven sisters. The rest of the interview confirms the change of practices. Our interviewee is now established as a traditional physician, who communicates directly with the deities since he is the only one to drink the blood of the sacrificed animal. He is a dewassia who acts as Kali entering into a trance to summon him. For the goats, you cut and drink the blood. For pigeons, I bite with my teeth and I drink. For example, for the goddess Kankar, if you do not give the goat, you give her pig. If you do not give a pigeon, you give a little goat or a rooster; you have to cut the cock and give it to the déwassia 27 to drink the blood. There is a difference between the puja we used to do and the one we practice now. It can be seen the role of the divine healer of P. has evolved since 1994, moving towards practices of witchcraft to the detriment of the practices of healer. He also explains the association of Kali with the deities present in the Tamil temples.​

The Kalimais of Clémencia  99

At home, the Hindus, we speak only of Kali, Durga, but we do not take the servants of Kali while the Tamils take these servants. The servants of the Masan, they take them, they all pray and use them in the Cavadees. So, no one can stop them because they give them strength. There are animal sacrifices that are practiced differently: by twisting the neck of the animal and not cutting it. These animal sacrifices are made for Pechai. As for Barosu Kateri, for her, you have to boil saffron in water and put the living animal in this preparation and close the lid. Some are immersed in cold water, others will have their heads cut off. If the Kankar manifests itself in the Dewassia by trance, he will bite the pigeon with his teeth.

FIGURE 3.4 The

altar of Kali of Mr P.: the seven sisters are represented in black.

P., by differentiating his worship from the rites practised in the Kalimai of Clémencia, has chosen the clientele he prefers, and at the same time he asserts the assimilation of the religious practices of the north Indians to those of the south. He conceives his function as that of a cultural broker. At the same time, he claims to practice an independent profession that deserves to be rewarded. It’s impossible. If you come home one night, having a problem, you do not have money to buy a goat and offer it to Kali and if you have a cucumber and a Chinese gourd, I can put a sindoor on the Chinese gourd and cut it. But afterwards I have to take the responsibility to buy a goat for you. We cannot offer a Chinese gourd to Gowraya and Kali, so I have to make a sacrifice. 28 His social action is based on the obligation of every Hindu believer to offer presents. Unlike the offerings in kind usually offered in kalimais, he asks for money to buy the animals to be sacrificed. He will say: ​ I love Hindus, they must keep their traditions of honouring mother Kali

100  The Kalimais of Clémencia

FIGURE 3.5 Appearance

of a new prayer site representing crosses.

Which is to say that he knows not to be well considered by the Hindu clientele of the village. This is why he is seeking his clients among more or less christianised groups such as Tamils, South Indians and Creoles of the region. Religious distinctions cut across the social and economic history of the old sugar mills of Beauvallon and Clémencia, which experienced early creolisation compared to the others, as they were soon grouped around other mills. Let us recall that the property of Clémencia belonged to Arlanda, a Tamil and Creole half-breed from 1855. Later Arlanda married a Christianised Pondicherry Tamil known as Mooniassamy. They will form a family company from 1855 to 1868.29 The last moment of the interview will be devoted to the presence, in 2000, of crosses in the kalimai space, crosses which were absent in 1993 and in 1994. In the meantime, P. has won the clientele of the “coloured people” who live Clémencia. He speaks of Christians whom he equates to Catholics and Indians of the Muslim religion. One does not preclude anyone, but if a Christian comes to pray and if he thinks he has faith in Kali, that he is healed by praying for it, normally he will regularly come to pray. If a Muslim comes to pray to the Hindu God, he can contribute by giving either in cash or in kind. It is like us, if we go to the ceremony of Père Laval and if we are cured, we would offer a candle. This does not mean that we are converted to Catholicism entirely. If there is the Virgin there, a mother takes her child, her child heals, then she will pray to the Virgin by offering her a candle and f lowers.

Kalimai and temple: from social to political link The privatisation of P’s kalimai and its openness to intercultural relations show that the same religious structure can give rise to differentiated practices for local effects of social and economic integration. P., however, is at the margin of the

The Kalimais of Clémencia  101

first two kalimais, proposing to all those who do not find their place in the other two associations to intercede for them with the divinities, thus establishing a private relationship with the divine order, which is contrary to the beliefs conveyed by the cult of the seven sisters. From the point of view of form, the rituals proposed by P. are consistent with the status of the sister deities of Kalimai. In the interviews obtained, there is a desire for ritual innovation through reinterpretation of the tradition proper to each of the deities, an invention that is presented as having a conformity to the general symbolic given of the various representations of Kali (the seven sisters). Moreover, P. lists all the deities of Kalimais present in his garden and insists that such and such divinity are necessarily associated with the other sisters of Kali. In total, he quotes the number of nine deities present in his kalimai. This requirement of exact knowledge of the traditions of kalimai cults, of which he says that few really know them, is only the translation of a lack of knowledge of the unitary principle which governs all relation to God. In all the religions of the world, the relationship to the divine is based on a determinant and unitary value internalised by the faithful. In the Hindu religion, it is the principle of general equivalence of all the divine forms (Sisters of Kali) which has value of sign. Kali owes its strength, efficiency and exemplarity only in the context of mutuality relationships established by the faithful with the deities of the place. None of the deities have autonomy in relation to others, and the symbolic relations involved are eminently collective. The expected benefits are the balance sought to avoid the radicalisation of conf licts. And if these became predominant, a mode of separation would be established by following the dividing line of the relations established between the participants. This character of impossible privatisation of the relations engaged around the Kali’s divinity is manifested in the type of land rights which govern the land on which the kalimais were erected. The Kalimai allotments are sugar land, which is inalienable because it has been granted by the company to the community of workers who requested it. Followers of the same kalimai are part of a group of affiliated parents whose ancestors have taken root at the place of worship (symbolised by the many trees that are considered as many tutelary deities that are prayed). This singularity of the relation of the religious to the social and the jurisdical is not signified in the symbolic space of the private kalimai of P. That is why the kalimai of P. will never be transformed into a temple. Very different is the situation of the Kalimai of Verger, the oldest in this case. He is today the object of political strategies by the possibility that he has to transform into a temple. Indeed, it gathers around it the first planters from the region, those whose families were already installed on site at the time of the mill Fabre. These growers – small and large planters – exploit or lend the fields they own in full ownership and enjoy certain privileged relations with certain elected representatives of constituencies numbers nine and ten. It is not yet entirely certain that this Kalimai has a temple status compared to the existing competition with the one and only local temple located on the Royal Road that leads from Quartier Militaire to Flacq. This

102  The Kalimais of Clémencia

temple was built simultaneously with cooperatives and community primary health centres founded by a core of large planters of high castes of sanatan rite. The almost future temple of Petite Cabanne ref lects the situation of economic and political emergence of the low castes of the region, generally supported by the alliance MMM/MSM. The fraction of low castes not integrated in the association of Petite Cabanne retains its autonomy around kalimais where the cults of the pig raha puja are practised. All temple formation is governed by the existence beforehand of a society of Kalimais, whose inf luence grows and imposes itself as a necessity for the validation of dominant relationships. This is why the Kalimai of the village of Clémencia, despite its recent renewal, no longer on the side of the ruling alliance in 1995, could not reach the threshold of integration policy. This is what we will see in the second part. To conclude provisionally on the question of the construction of social ties in the kalimai cults and their transformation into political links within the temples, we will confine ourselves to noting that if there are phenomena of political competition, and there are some, the internal organisation of the different temples obeys the same model of representation of the world. This model can be summarised as follows: whatever the social origins of those who control the cult, the invariant of the belief system is based on Dharma and Karma. Dharma is an ideology of the four ages of life, of which we have spoken above. Karma is the principle of reincarnation of the living in a life corresponding to our acts – to benefits or misdeeds – which are accounted for in the previous life. Therefore, kalimais, whether private or not, whether of Sanatanist obedience with animal or plant sacrifices, or Aryasamajist type with fruit offerings, obey this rule of the four ages of the life that governs people’s behaviour, obliges them to a regular practice of sharing. The deep-seated raison d’être of popular cults is contained in this moral necessity, which obliges those who, better born, more fortunate or more intelligent, to cross faster than others the stages of perfection, preparing for eternity moksha. The founders of the kalimais have always devoted a part of their property – land, money, social work, sacrifices – to draw in their wake those with whom they seek to live in harmony. Therefore, to establish a kalimai or a temple is not given to everyone. To be successful, one needs a consensus that can, of course, be useful for personal benefit. In this way P. has constituted a clientele of faithful who seeks, through divinity and witchcraft, to solve the problems they cannot solve in their daily lives.30

Notes 1 “Estimated Resident Population by Districts, Municipal Council Area (MCA) and Village Council Area (VCA).” Central Statistics Office, 1999–2000. 2 “Mauritius Socialist Movement” the Mauritian Socialist Movement. 3 The Gawna is a ceremony during which the young child, sitting on the lap of his father, separates from him for the purpose of his marriage. The priest comes to the family on this occasion and celebrates the wedding ceremony in the presence of the future husband and his parents.

The Kalimais of Clémencia  103

4 There is something of the order of the metamorphosis so a change of nature in the fact of the migration. 5 There is an idea of rebirth here. 6 See glossary. It is a red powder that we use in certain circumstances, here on the tree. 7 There is a contradiction between putting the sindoor on the stones that represent the seven sisters, all of whom are single, and the common practice that only married women put the sindoor in their hair. We will delve deeper into this question in the analysis of ceremonial practices. 8 He is one of the rich traders mentioned at the beginning of the interview who lived in Clémencia. Note that this is once again a trader who introduces a major change in cultural religious habits. 9 It is no longer an inhabited place. 10 If the white is hurt then he has undoubtedly not respected the norms of the cult, which he might not be aware of as the white manager of the sugar estates. 11 The interviewee said to us, precisely, that both the father and son died because they had not respected the norms of the kalimai cult. 12 Most of the lands of the ancient kalimais are the property of the whites. The new kalimais, whether private or not, are the framework for the emergence of new property relations whose origin must be located. 13 Theory of symbolic inversion: the dead white man buried at the same place that is being honoured by the Hindus. Those who are the owners of the land who respect the tombs and did not destroy them over time, even when the Hindus bought the lands. 14 A “go-between.” 15 Let us remember this image of white solidarity with Hindus (of capital and labour). Two hands that strike together to produce a sound symbolising the economy: money rings. 16 Note the image of the root: the whites uprooted the Hindus. Uprooted from India, they took new root in Mauritius. 17 In the Hindu family, the man is the owner of the house where the woman lives who lives with her husband. It is the same for Hindus who came from India to work on the cane, but it is the white man who owns it. 18 The statute of limitations is a special legislation that permits the registration of lands on which we have always lived and exploited. To qualify, you must make an announcement in the Official Journal for two weeks, after which the land is awarded to the applicant if no one has made claims. This legislation has allowed many smallscale farmers to acquire unregistered, non-testament owned lands in full ownership. Indeed, all these acts were expensive, and few farmers have been satisfied. The problems that arise most frequently in this procedure are internal family conf licts rather than disputes over lands with sugar properties whose heritage is legally well established. An exception is “Crown Lands.” We will clarify these points later. 19 Here, we come across the caste social stratification linked to the specialisation of trades that exists in India. It is the framework of the fixation of the social relations, based on the relations of kinship and alliance which perpetuate the differences of statutes. 20 Let us recall that it is before Brahma that the memory of the statutory differentiation is exercised. 21 The rituals, Vedic and Puranic, are described in the third part where ceremonial rituals are compared. 22 The “settler” was often, but not always, seen as a “mulatto half-breed.” Some Métis families have legitimised themselves in the white world, but they are rare. The “mulattoes” were part of the management of sugar establishments. The oldest families in Mauritius have mixed-race and white descendants with the same surname. 23 This man has died since the period of our investigation, and we pay tribute to his memory.

104  The Kalimais of Clémencia

24 All these goddesses can be considered as references to caste stratification. For example, the Tulsi (Brahmin) families of the Papaya Plain have only set up a Brahma in their yard, while Mr P. has chosen to install all ten goddesses in his yard. He places more emphasis on Purmessi and Kali among the ten goddesses and we will look for the reason for his choice. 25 Here our informant differentiates the “Arya Samajists” from the “Sanatanists.” 26 Here is established a symbolic equivalence of the strength of faith and the benefits received. 27 See glossary. The dewassia is the divine healer who officiates in the popular cults and drinks the blood of the sacrificed animal. 28 He tells us, implicitly, that we cannot offer animals to vegetarians and therefore, reciprocally, we cannot offer plants to people who eat meat. 29 Mauritius Almanach – a comprehensive list of owners of mills and sugar companies per year. 30 Forging of social relationships and the emergence of associations.

4 THE KALIMAI OF BEAUVALLON AT CAMP DE MASQUE PAVÉ The nurturing of social relations and the emergence of associations

Historical reconstitution of camp life and parcelling of lands The Kalimai of Beauvallon at Camp de Masque Pavé is of a different architecture from the one we introduced and described in the previous chapter. It is the only kalimai that has the structure of a small temple. The information our respondent gives, a turning point in the history of founding the villages and the main transformations that the region experienced, as the Fabre mill was being planned nearby which led to the results of sugar production that followed. Today, the place is covered with sugar canes and dominated by two mountains, Montagne Blanche and Montagne Faïence (see Figure 4.1). We present the genesis of the development of the villages and the emergence of the social differences contained in the symbolic organisation of the kalimai. We then discuss the recent modernisation of the site, which contrasts the historical and current social transformations. Finally, we will interpret the social representations given to the main divinities of kalimai. They are an insight into the meaning and ways of building family social bonds as supported by the different rituals dedicated to Kali. We received from the interviews with faithful women of this kalimai. We have therefore continued our investigation of the internal family relationships committed to cults and ceremonial innovations by linking them to the economic conditions of life and work in the context of local political changes.

The sugar mill and the kalimai The Kalimai of Beauvallon is located on the site of the former sugar mill, which belonged to the Fabre family, at the place where the labourers’ camps were located. The village of Camp de Masque Pavé was formed following the distribution of the property of Beauvallon” by its owner of the time, Fabre. The space, formerly DOI: 10.4324/9781003298106-5

106  The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé

covered by sugar canes, brought together an amount of the inhabitants of the first sugar camp, to which other families had joined at random from the changes of land ownership. According to the last census in 2000, Camp de Masque Pavé currently has 4,322 inhabitants. It is located along the “Royal Road” that leads to Bel-Air. As per the historian Rouillard, the foundation of the kalimai is presented in the form of a condensed account of the relationships that existed between labourers and employers at the time of the 1850s sugar boom. We are told that it was in 1853 that the mill was founded by the Fabre family, on a plot of more than 200 acres (Rouillard, 1964–1977: 156). Where the kalimai was located the land of the establishment was donated by the owner in order to worship. The Whites had kalimais built in every corner. They provided a lot of care for poor people and he believed very much in prayer. The presence of the kalimai guarantees the prosperity of the mill. ​

FIGURE 4.1 The

canes trail that leads to the Kalimai of Beauvallon located at the foot of the mountain of the same name.

With this donation of land for the kalimai, he was able to buy land and make profit. The foundation of the kalimai by the white saheb showed the existence of a kind of fusion of beliefs. The name of the white owner who built the kalimai was Arthur Fabre. We only know it by hearsay. Many whites believe in kalimai. Look here, in Beauvallon where we are, it is the saheb who built the Kalimai altar for the Indians. If the saheb did not believe in kalimai, he would not have made a donation for the construction of the altar. There were more than ten thousand Indians who worked with the saheb and he made this donation so that there would be beneficial consequences for his establishment.

The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé  107

The life of the camp in Margoze1 time is described as a time when security was assured under the protection of kalimai. Kalimai is built in the same place where we had our houses built in straws. It was “Caze la pailles.”2 We had a room and two godons.3 The kitchen was outside. The clothes we4 put on were darned everywhere. We put the vest and the apron made of Gouni.5 There was no bed before. Only the Governor could afford the furniture we have today. The mattress was stuffed with grass, it was shaken and we slept on the f loor. The vegetables were cheap. We planted our vegetables in front of the house like chili, egg plants, greeneries, beetroots and all that grew very well. There were no insecticides and the vegetables were tasteful. There were no insects, we did not put fertilizers … It was the time “margoz,” bitter gourd as people said. At that time the wages of a worker were seven cents, two paisas,6 If someone worked twenty-five goulettes,7 he earned five cents. When the mill closed and the parcelling of lands begun, the kalimai remained, symbolising a kind of inheritance given by the white boss at the time of his departure. The mill that was here, the cane mill was demolished as a result of a f lood and the camp was destroyed. At that time, the owner, discouraged, began to fragment the land and you see that now all these lands are distributed. But he left to people this portion of land reserved for kalimai. All these mountains are fragmented and sold to people that the owner “saheb” knew. The land was sold at the rate of 125 Rupees per acre. All these mountains are parceled into series of fields of one acre at hundred Rupees. It was really cheap for the time. The first parcelling of lands resulted in the displacement of camp workers who split up. At one point, the camp took the name of the Indian owner Balgobin, who had bought some of the mill’s land. The whites went elsewhere. Later, after the f lood, the village was destroyed and they became discouraged, they were disgusted and sold their land. Mr. Guidon, who took care of the establishment with other whites like Mr. La Roche, sold his land to Mr. Mahadeosing, a resident of Belle-Rose. He later sold them to Mr. Balgobin. The two hundred acres of land of the Beauvallon Mountain belong today to Mr. Kadharoo, who was a friend of Balgobin of the private secondary school Darwin de Flacq. This land fragmentation took place after the destruction of the camp. Mr. Balgobin bought these parcels of land and sold some of them to Mr. Kadharoo.

108  The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé

This destruction of the mill is described with a certain nostalgia; a feeling of loss is perceptible and those among the Indians who bought the lands are presented as having had to have a great deal of money or having been able to resort to a loan. Then, the interviewee puts forward the idea that the profit realised by the owner of the mill depended on the good relations that they established with the farmers. Fearing the loss, one experiences no transmission from one planter to another and thereby the emergence of a collective heritage of the lands of property, fragmented and redeemed at that point of time. The Balgobin camp, now missing, refers to a place name that has been mentioned. Later, the founding of the village of Camp de Masque Pavé will be part of an economic progression of the inhabitants explained by the religious fervour to the goddess Kali. The inhabitants have been protected by it from vulnerability to natural disasters. The camp turned into a village. The location of the camp became the countryside, and the forest of yesteryear has now become a village. Where we live today, there were many thieves. When the ox carts went to supply the camp, the thieves attacked them, took the goods. There was a train station (near the current gas station of Camp de Masque). It was there that the goods arrived and they were transported to the camp by oxcart. It should be noted that the reconstruction of kalimai is an opportunity to recall the different phases of land appropriation in the region, giving a social meaning and legitimacy to the political and financial integration that took place at the time of the founding of a company called Flacq United Estate Limited (FUEL). The whites seem to have gone away, the Indians have differentiated themselves into large, landowners, tenants and contract labourers of the property. The formation of FUEL is the product of a capital merger between white Mauritians (Leclézio families), Indians (Gujadhur) and the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), while the labourers of this time were mostly Indians. The mutual interests of the two majority shareholders were also reinforced by political ties: Radha Mohan Gujadhur was elected in the 1948 elections and the Leclézio family was well placed in the judiciary. The religious fervour towards Kali here expressed by our interviewees and its current importance have been related to the success of the FUEL society, which, through a history of fragmentation and successive concentrations, made possible a social and economic development. In this way, the labourers of the plantations came out of misery, an Indian minority – in the same way as the whites – was established in the local capital. With the support of the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) Gujadhur and Leclézio have acquired the sugar estate operating today. Reciprocally, the history of the kalimai is inseparable from the local production relations and the competition that arose during the sugar development that led to both the disappearance of the Fabre mill and the appearance of a class of small independent planters. The Fabre mill was later

The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé  109

attached to another sugar establishment in 1890 (Rouillard, ibid: 162). Some 15 years later in 1906, the unit will be associated with Union-Flacq, which is one of the three sugar entities that participated in the concentration of land around the FUEL company, made up of properties known as Sans Souci and Queen Victoria. Today, the land on which the kalimai was built is considered a donation from FUEL, which, according to our interviewees, marked the respect of the Indian traditions on which the first relations between the labourers were based under contract and white owners.8 FUEL is also seen as a company with national character, to the extent that it could not have been developed without the Indian capital the farmers contributed, in a certain way, and without the political rise of the two principal shareholders, as the sugar industry modernised after the war (1948). This effectiveness of the goddess Kali in the success of committed projects, symbolically translates into an orderly system of relationships that assigns everyone their place in the shared religious universe. It contains the exploitation relations that served as a framework and support for the statutory differentiations of castes recognised today. This is why we propose to analyse the power of Kali in Beauvallon, taking into account the ways in which the deities of this kalimai are associated with each other. The organisation of the space of the mandup9 distinguishes three territories – that is to say three modes of exercise of the power – symbolically related to the three pairs of divinities both opposing and associated: Dhi–Saher on the one hand, Hanuman–Brahma on the other hand and finally Gowraya–Sitla. To conclude, tentatively, we will say that the Kalimai of Beauvallon symbolically restores the unwritten part of the national history by revealing the social conditions that made possible the economic success of the first Indian immigrants settled in the region, who knew and could play according to the rules of the division of labour in the sugar industry, taking advantage of the structural weakness of the sugar economy at its inception, for lack of financial availability of white planters, which was more often than not added to by natural disasters. ​

FIGURE 4.2  Kali’s

iconography is background of the abstract representations of the seven sisters in Kalimai of Beauvallon.

110  The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé

Architecture and modernisation of the kalimai This kalimai is completely different from other places of worship studied in the region: this is evident in its architecture, which distinguishes the altar of Kali and the seven sisters from the rest of the environment, delimited by the geography of the place and the trees that surround the kalimai. Kali is not placed outside. Her altar is locked in a room that serves as a small temple. She is represented by an icon in front of which are seven black stones of rounded shape, wider at the base with a red vertical line. These stones were part of the old kalimai and were kept on the newly renovated altar (see Figure 4.3). The photograph of the ancient kalimai of the unit shows that the altars of Kali were originally located in secluded natural places and generally placed under the shade of trees and outdoors. ​

FIGURE 4.3 The

seven sisters of the Kalimai of the FUEL Plantation Unit.

The Beauvallon Kalimai, although considered the oldest, has been modernised as a small temple. This transformation necessarily took place before 1993, when the first photograph was taken. It continued between 1993 and 1999, as seen in Figure 4.4 taken in 1999, during a second visit at the same place of worship. The outside of the building of 1993, which houses the altar of Kali, is full of symbols and its space is marked territorially by the existence of small altars devoted to several deities, some qualified as tutelary (Dhi, Saher, Gowraya and Sitla for this kalimai) and others as main deities (Hanuman and Brahma/Baram). The installation of the Kali icon marks a decisive moment in the social and economic progression of the Camp de Masque planters. We will show later that the kalimai of Petite Cabanne at Camp de Masque Pavé has undergone the same iconographic transformation. In addition to the appearance of a statue on the altar of Kali, the renovation also focused on the surrounding space and we note, in 1999, the appearance of a fence distinguishing the space of distribution of the deities associated with Kali, worshipped by the faithful of this cult according to their rites of belonging. Each of the deities present in this kalimai, thus, have their own territory and efficiency.

The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé  111

FIGURE 4.4 The

Kalimai of Beauvallon in 1993.

Other changes have also taken place relating to the deities painted on the walls of the mandup. They are no longer the same goddesses that appear in a photograph taken in 1999, compared to that photographed in 1993. The change sees the elimination of Saraswati, goddess of education, while Luxmi passes from the left (1993) to the right of the photograph (1999), while Kali replaces it on the left side (1999). An immediate response to this change is an analysis of the evolution that has occurred in people’s living and working conditions. Women’s access to wage labour in the free zones since the 1970s can partly explain this symbolic association of Luxmi with Kali in this kalimai. ​

FIGURE 4.5 The

Kalimai of Beauvallon renovated.

But it is also reasonable to assume that, in the context of the poverty of “temp margoze [sic]” the local planters have chosen Luxmi and Saraswati because the first goddess of money interceded with Kali for that social and economic progress is realised. At a certain stage of development, and after having reached the education for which Saraswati was generally solicited, the planters no longer had quite the same concerns. Since 1999, their fervour has gone directly to

112  The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé

Kali and Luxmi because of their need for security, which is threatened due to the amount of arson in the cane fields. Everyone is also afraid of the frequent amount of theft of fruits or vegetables on plantations during harvest. Land cannot be watched daily, especially at night. The people therefore chose to move Luxmi from left to right and to replace Saraswati by Kali on the paintings of the walls of the mandup. The disappearance of the goddess of education in this temple indicates the fact that with the economic prosperity acquired and the educational stakes being more or less satisfied, it is the security, the political support and the control of the women who are today’s determinants of well-being in the lives of families. If we look at the construction of this kalimai, another symbolic relationships appears. The mandup is made of local materials of three different colours: white (lime), black (rocks) and red (colour powder). Note that the women who come to the kalimai to talk about the goddess dress in red saree10 to show their fervour and pray at the altar. This kalimai was built with lime, red earth, rocks. There are no bricks in it. There are ashes coming from the mill waste. There was no murtis,11 only the seven stones. The murtis were installed last year. We put ashes because the cement was too expensive. These three associated colours represent the values of purity, power and control of the evil spirits, which are usually ascribed to mother Kali when she is addressed. ​ Goddess Devi loves the color red as there is a red f lag for Mahavir Swami.12

FIGURE 4.6 Invocation

of Dhi to Beauvallon.

The political social effectiveness of Kali is, thus, presented in reference to the colour red, which symbolises the presence of the Hanuman deity, who is the guardian of Kali, while the white is associated with Brahma, which proceeds the statutory differentiations.

The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé  113

The relation to politics of this kalimai will be evoked by reference to the Mauritian f lag You see, my son, if we take the flag of Mauritius, the first colour is red. This is Kali’s wish. If one wears a red saree at the time of the offerings that one makes Kali very happy – I speak about the married women. The red saree is reserved for prayer. When we went, my daughter, my daughter-in-law and myself to Grand Bassin, I insisted that we wear a red saree. This red preference is not chosen for aesthetic reasons but because of the prayer we want to do. If we do not have red saree, we can put another one but it is better to choose red. The gendered division of labour is also clear in references to the colours that differentiate women according to their status as married women (in red) and widows (in white), while girls or single women have no designated colour. Men, meanwhile, are not differentiated according to their dress. They do not change especially to come to a kalimai. They can come directly from a football match, work or the market and they will wear the same daily clothes for the ceremony. Widows do not wear red, they dress in white or they do not come to kalimai. They must not put the tikka.13 The seven sisters are coloured with sindoor14 … Because the seven sisters are married. Like us, when we get married, we put the sindoor. This vermilion represents femininity and means that the woman has the quality of wife, that she has a husband. The mothers go to the kalimai to present the offerings after putting the tikka to the seven sisters and they return to put the tikka to their daughters and daughters-in-law, married out of the house.15 If we look again at the photograph of the altar of Kali (Figure 4.2), we note the two red f lags located on each side at the corner of the altar. The colour red is clearly the decisive symbol of the rites practised in this place with regard to the goddess. From the general meaning given to the colour symbols – white, red and black – one can deduce that this cult is based on a triangular structuring of the symbolised relationships in the ritual practices of people when they come to perform ceremonies in this place. This symbolic system draws the lines of force around which associative strategies can be built. The six divinities spread around Kalimai, Dhi, Saher, Hanuman, Brahma, Gowraya and Sitla, which we will discuss now, highlight the social unification strategies that can be implemented by overcoming tensions and/or social conf licts.

The symbolical aspects of the Kalimai of Beauvallon The symbolic system of the Kalimai of Beauvallon is given by the existence of a founding general duality of the symbolic relations of Kali and Dhi, of Dhi and

114  The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé

Saher, of Brahma and Hanuman and, finally, of Gowraya and Sitla. What is the nature of this observable duality at four levels of organisation of the worship space? Let’s examine the symbolic set of Dhi and Kali first.

Dhi and Kali There is a “grand dimoune” under the tree. It’s the Dhi. We must pray before the Dhi and then Kali Maï (literally mother Kali). The Dhi gives permission to enter the kalimai. The Dhi has no independent existence with respect to Kali. He represents the white settler, who has authority over the land of which he is the owner, but he has no authority over men. This authority works through mother Kali who represents the social link: land and labour are necessary to each other. This is the meaning that can be given to the duality Dhi and Kali, instituted symbolically in this kalimai. This is why the Dhi, though integrated into the worship space, remains far from the altar of Kali, which marks the distance of the labourers with respect to the whites. Dhi is a deity present in all kalimais of the island. Its function is to open the sacred space.

Dhi and Saher Unlike the Dhi, the Saher deity is not represented in all kalimais, but Beauvallon reserved a place for Saher next to Dhi. These two deities are located in the same place, under the shade of two different mango trees. Whatever work you want to do, you have to pray Dhi and Saher and then others. It’s the same as the dog who is the guardian of our house. Dhi is the guardian of the village16 Dhi and Saher are very strong deities. They look after the kalimai. We cannot do bad things when they are there. They are not only guards of the kalimai but they are also guards of the whole village. The power of these deities applies to the whole village when they are associated in the kalimai ritual. Their mutual action is complete, because if Dhi accepts any offering, it is not the case of Saher. Me, I offer betel, f lowers and water and I do not lit the candle, but the camphor, which I put on the betel leaf. I ask the Dhi to accept what I offer. Others offer bread, sardines and candles and Dhi also accept these offerings. Saher is more demanding. Saher, meanwhile, drinks blood and must be sacrificed by offering a rooster or a black hen.. In reality, there is a balance to be found to unify the traditions of the different social groups that participate in worship. In 1973, David Pocock observed that

The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé  115

the Hindus had developed a social conscience that was less conducive to satisfying the needs of the deities through offerings than to seeking to conform to the rites and traditions of the groups from which they came. This is why the interpretation of religious practices and representations can be constantly related to the social group, the age of life and the end goal sought by people to understand their true meaning. Dhi’s ambivalence and Dhi–Saher duality can be stated as places of possible transgression to the rules of social behaviour accepted by the village. Evoking Dhi can be a way to climb the social ladder, because it intervenes undifferentiated in regulation. This duality can also act in the direction of a mitigation of social tensions that may exist within families, who have not taken into account the rules of endogamous preference. It is useful to say that our interviewee, who offered sweet dishes to Dhi during the course of the interview, simultaneously showed his difference and his solidarity with his sister-in-law, who practised the sacrifice of animals offered preferentially to Saher. Their husbands are brothers who have married women of different castes. The kalimai of this place is, therefore, a special space for the development of this type of relationship. We have to take measure of the symbolic meaning of the relationships of Dhi and Saher in this kalimai in respect to endogamous relations, in this place of the first mill where the first differences were institutionalised by the work. Saher, a female deity, was considered to be able to promote the biological reproduction of families and increase agricultural productivity. We share Obeyesekere’s view that the popularity of divinities depends less on their intrinsic strength than on their ability to take into account the social, economic conditions of the local environment. The popular traditions of Indian immigrants have been reinvented in the words of Hobsbaum (1983). The vegetarian traditions and the sweet dishes offered to Dhi by our interviewee showed her links with the upper quality of being a member of high castes. The caste distinction established by this contradictory relations of Dhi and Saher in the symbolic set of kalimai has given us reason to believe that the caste difference would have originated – in this part of the island – from the more or less proximity of the white world by the emergent position that could be acquired over time in the system of plantation. The division of tasks within the sugar plantation would have been, in this hypothesis, the objective framework of the caste division. Conversely, the relations of endogamy and exogamy within the village community would have helped to fix, in the long-term, the first social inequalities through work. It should be noted that Dhi and Saher are placed in a mutual relation of externality. This is so in this kalimai, where Dhi is located outside the altar of Kali and under the shadow of a single tree that he does not share with Saher. This exteriority of Dhi is even more significant when he is placed outside the house, in the court of the Indian practice of Sanatan. As previously, in his relationship with Kali, Dhi has no symbolic effectiveness independent of

116  The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé

Saher. It then has an ambiguous symbolic function, referring to a world of work placed under the constraint of exploitation. But, at the same time, he denies the framework of domination, by the association with the Saher deity, which represents the rules of belonging and social affiliation that have been established in the camp. In Figure 4.4 of the kalimai taken in 1993, we could not isolate these two deities, Dhi and Saher, because they were both placed under the two mango trees that we see in left of the photograph. This sideby-side distribution of Dhi and Saher, under two identical but different trees in the mandup17 and their common function as guardian of the kalimai, has shown us the need to understand the division of labour of the plantation, as a social relations of which the first caste distinctions of the camps appeared. In this vein, the symbolic duality of Dhi and Saher could mark the impossibility of establishing the clear separation from within and outside in the social formations of the camps, where the divisions of labour within the plantation would have commuted in statutory distinctions with the biological reproduction of families.

Brahma and Mahabir Swami (also called Hanuman) In all kalimais we pray to Baram/Brahma. In this kalimai, there are all kinds of castes ie Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishs and Sudras.18 Brahma is prayed for knowledge. He is offered betel, f lowers, camphor.19 And we pray to Mahabir Swami. Mahabir Swami and Brahma are self-sufficient. The first has his own altar (under the f lag) and he does not need the protection of a tree, or that of any deity. The second is honoured by all the castes it transcends. He is also considered the heir of knowledge, the creator of the universe. Brahma shares the same sacred space with Mahabir Swami, located at the entrance to the left of the kalimai. These two deities are vegetarians. They are of the same essence. Unlike Dhi, who represents the white manager of the property called “colon,” Mahabir Swami represents the great white man, who is almost never seen but who controls everything. In this mill, the great white was Fabre and the settlers were called Guidon and Laroche. From this, it is clear that we see the kalimai as a sacred space, which reproduced the most visible hierarchy of whites, distinguishing the great white, from the white manager. This distinction has been transposed into class difference, represented by Brahma, who is an unclassifiable divinity, who has no real position assigned. Being out of caste and, therefore, out of class, this divinity can be omnipresent or, on the contrary, reign by its absence. So, Brahma/Baram is not present in all kalimais. But in Beauvallon, not only was he present, but he was clearly distinguished from Dhi and Saher by his intrinsic and inseparable relationship with Mahabir Swami, while Dhi and Saher were explicitly presented as being in a totally external relationship.

The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé  117

By virtue of its superior quality, Brahma is the object of a particular fervour, concerning the events experienced as dramatic and for which one seeks a comfort. If there prevails very high “fever” in the whole world, we pray to Brahma so that he can diminish it. That is to say, if you are going through a bad situation causing suffering and hardship, you pour water on Brahma so that it soothes the suffering. We come to the kalimai to pray to Brahma to reduce the fever that invades your body. Fresh water is poured on the top of the stone that represent him and he is offered f lowers, betel and camphor. There are other deities who represent wealth, others are attached to children, and others protect the village and many others who have their own efficiency. But Brahma is the one that soothes your feverish body. For example, if you are very angry, the heat of your body increases, Brahma soothes your anger. In our body, there are different types of reactions such as anger, warmth, gentleness, peace and that is why we installed Brahma, so that all these causes of fever decrease and to manage to keep peace. This symbolic structure which opposes an internal duality to an external duality referred to Kali is specific to the history of the foundation of this Kalimai. We can further consider the hypothesis concerning the modelling of the caste difference, based on the hierarchies of work internal to the plantation, concluding that the Fabre mill would have been the frame of a complex social integration, having brought together Indians of different origins. These differences of origin counted in the distribution of camp workers but they were not the only ones to intervene in the caste differentiation process that followed the early days of the settlement of the North Indians, the South Indians as Tamils and ​​ Marathi from Maharashtra. The fact that the first independent owners of the plantation were Baboojees and Muslims suggests that they were the closest to the power of whites in this region. But contemporary economic inequality has upset community and caste distinctions. Other social groups have emerged in the context of national independence as many Raviveds have their homes at Camp de Masque and Camp Masque Pavé. We will develop in the second part the conditions of this emergence, both political and economic, and the way in which this is translated symbolically by ritual changes of the local popular cults, also supported by practices of renovation of the kalimais.

Gowraya and Sitla: emergence of a deity at the entrance of the muddy road that leads to the kalimai The fourth level of symbolic organisation of worship brings Gowraya and Sitla side by side, located in front of Dhi and Saher under the shadow of the same

118  The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé

tree. These mother deities intervene in all that relates to the particular role of the woman within the family. They are invoked with regard to problems relating to procreation and the appearance of childhood diseases. Gowraya is offered a rooster and sweet dishes in Sitla. The altar of a Dhi was constructed just recently at the entrance of the dirt road that leads to the kalimai. The presence of this Dhi refers to a conf lict between low castes and high castes, some addressing their prayers to the God of fire Agni, others to Kali. Contrary to the current simplistic perception of caste conf licts, they do not necessarily oppose the high and low castes, but they can oppose when it comes to bringing these differences to the political scene for the choice of a local elected representative. It is for this reason that the place of Dhi within the symbolic array of kalimais is so important to understand, in the various places of worship of the region. This Dhi from outside the Kalimai of Beauvallon, allows the practice of animal offerings, prohibited to this day in the kalimai enclosure. This recent ritual arrangement has the function of balancing the relations of the Sanatanist and Vedic communities present, who pray in this kalimai. Moreover, Dhi being placed outside and inside the kalimai, manifests the ambivalence of beliefs relating to the tutelary deities. These are considered by Dumont (1986) as malevolent by nature, as long as they are not localised and they have not given rise to rituals. ​

FIGURE 4.7 The

altar of Dhi, at the entrance of the Kalimai of Beauvallon.

Dhi, when duplicated is then endowed with a function of gathering and social opening in a symbolic system of practices that are closed to them. The duality of Dhi can be understood as a process of individualisation that would have occurred about the division of labour and production relations organised by the “settler”20 of the sugar establishment differentiating and simultaneously authorising the Aryasamajist and Sanatanist local rituals. It is for this reason that the place of Dhi within the symbolic array of kalimais is so important to know, in the different cults of the region.

The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé  119

Production and statutory differentiations The kalimai of Beauvallon represents a certain way of organising the union by internalising the differences – of sex or gender, caste, class and origin – within the extended social and family groups. Our informant and others, whom we met on the spot, confessed to come to pray in this kalimai because it is the one that is deemed effective for the solution of the conf licts considered as difficult to solve as those which oppose, in the families, spouses who do not share the same religious rites or those who married without the support of their parents. This kalimai can also act as a catalyst, in order to unravel collective conf licts that can oppose members of one association to another. However, we know that every inhabitant of Camp de Masque has to belong to a local association. The opposite would signal his or her total exclusion from social life. As a result, this kalimai is not only open to all communities but, more importantly, it is subject to ritual practices that vary according to community belonging. We can then witness a reversal of the roles of Dhi with respect to Kali. My son,21 community means Hindus, Muslims, Christians and others. Christians come to pray Kalimai in their own way: we lit the candle and so on. And then there are the Muslims too who come to pray, like Mr. Inoos, when he passes by the kalimai, He removes his boots and raises his hand to Kali. People from all the communities who pass by Kali do that. Christians pray to Kali in their own way, that is, they reverse the role of Dhi in relation to Kali. They ask for Kali’s permission to address Dhi, while Hindus do the opposite, they turn to Dhi for access to Kali. In these conditions, it is not the fact of participating in a cult that determines the union between people, but it is the fact of sharing the same rite that makes the union. The foundation of the unions around this kalimai is governed by the religious affiliation that determines the rites. But, according to our interviewee, we can change ritual. This is the case with her husband, whom she led to venerate Kali, he who was a practising Aryasamajist, which is very rare. My husband never believed in kalimai. But when sometimes we pass by, I grabbed his hand and I told him “We must salute her.” My husband said to me, “Why do I have to salute a statue? I replied, “Your mother is dead, she is burned, there is nothing left of her, but for Mother Kali, there is her idol which represents her.” My husband then prostrated in front of mother Kali. Sometimes I tell him to do this by forcing him. There is nothing to do when greeting the goddesses. When my husband had confidence in Kali, he felt good and he started to believe in her. I often tell him “you, I only ask you to touch Kali’s feet, and if you look around you, there are a lot of people doing great ceremonies for her.”

120  The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé

The power of Kali is entirely contained in the strength of conviction of the woman to bring about the adhesion of her husband to the puranic rite of her paternal in-laws. When I got married, all my in-laws were Aryasamajist. They did not do the puja. They did not believe in these things. For them, it was just nonsense ponga. They did not put the sindoor. My father-in-law had said that I should not put the Sindoor when I got married. But my uncle, who was my father’s older brother, said that if his daughter did not put sindoor, she could not get married. The two families then talked for an hour. The uncle said that his daughter was Brahmachari,22 and that, when she returned to her new family, she had to put on the Sindoor. This is what sets her apart from a single woman. One must put the sindoor on the head of one’s daughter. When I got married and came here, I did not put the sindoor. It was only after the death of my father-in-law that I put it on. My father was a puranic.23 He told me that when one enters the period of grishastha, one can no longer be aryasamajist. He also said that I had to follow both sides and he often came to read the Devi Maï [literally mother goddess]. I went with him here to Beauvallon to pray and it was there that he explained to me the history of these deities. Kali’s function towards the deities of kalimai and the social role of the mother within the family are of the same nature. Kali and the mother share the same energy. It is the mother who takes care of the children, it is she who can or transform her children into thieves, robbers and criminals or on the contrary into doctors, lawyers or teachers. It is the mother who takes on this responsibility. And we, the mothers, ask for the blessing with a pure heart to “kalimata,” to keep our children healthy. The role of women differs to that of men. A woman’s power is seen in her strength; her action in relationships is most often invisible. The work she provides is not counted in hours or money, but she takes on a lot of responsibility. Among these responsibilities, the woman holds an emerging social position recognised by all with regard to the organisation of the kalimai and develops a real economic autonomy which does take the form of a paid job, but an ability to save money on the basis of her determining role in the management of the budget of the associated families. The women, grouped in associations around the kalimai, organise “tontines” to release a financial surplus or to invest in the modernisation of the household, the organisation or the planning of children’s marriages, all of which improve the lives of those whom they deal with daily in the work of the house, for meals and children after school. All of this requires great energy and planning within family and neighbourhood relationships. We will take as an

The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé  121

example a widowed grandmother, with a small survivor’s pension for personal use. With this, the grandmother organises monthly “tontines” and, on this occasion, news exchanges also take place, as it used to be when women went to fetch water or laundry at the river. The benefit of tontines is collective because there is no interest on the money lent, but it is also individual and private for the one who organises the tontine. Indeed, on the basis of a group of 12 women, over the course of a year, the initiator of the tontine has a money supply of Rs 12,000 which she can invest in a bank while immediately recovering her put Rs 2000 and taking advantage of the interest a year later. This unifying role exercised by a woman in a village is equivalent to what makes the supposed power of Kali sakti.24 Everything is based on trust. The economic stakes are not separable from the social relations engaged and the relations of mutuality between women are at the heart of the constituted social structure. Quite different is the role of a man. If the woman can multiply her activity, the man cannot do two things at once. This is why women take over full responsibility of kalimai ceremonies according to a division of labour underpinned by the internal relations of the extended family, while the temple ceremonies are rather a matter of men within a division of the kalimai. Roles and statutes are distributed by a temple committee which functions as board of directors. We will show later the relationship of this symbolic system of relations established in the kalimais with the foundation, after the war in the 1960s, of the first cooperatives that helped people to buy land, animals, fishing equipment, inputs for growing vegetables. The first cooperatives were not production or consumer cooperatives, but financial cooperatives which helped the farmers to become independent small planters. Kalimata brings both misery and happiness. See, myself, I accepted the misfortune that happens to us because, for three years, my husband has been disabled. Suffering is only mine. I have satisfaction in this suffering because the kalimata knew that I can take the responsibility of caring for my husband. It is because of this that we mothers, we pray a lot “Kali.” The mother knows how to ask Kali.25 But fathers go to work. They cannot do two things at the same time. The father works, I pray, and then we, together, enjoy the blessing of Kalimai. I pray kalimai to keep our child and give him happiness and the father brings food for all of us.

The associations of kalimais This chapter was an overview of the institution of kalimai and its function of social utility within the local society of Camp de Masque Pavé. At the time of our investigation, we could measure the importance that this cult had had in the construction and structuring of the social bond at the time of the sugar mills and when the first immigrants arrived in Mauritius under the British administration. From this point of view, sit is possible to reconstruct the most important stages of sugar production and its consequences on local social differentiations, explaining

122  The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé

the emergence of what is called the small Indian plantation. Our sources helped us understand the social meaning of the kalimai, which is a place for a kind of projection of family relations and their structuring into groups of statutes. We have, thus, been able to understand that behind the family relationships taken as an example to explain the meaning of things, there were multiple other tensions that the deities of the kalimai had to mitigate. This is why the kalimai was built on the gendered division of tasks within the family and on the traditional role of the mother and wife – functions that are now changing. A real revival of interest exists and the old kalimais come back to life when an association organises to take care of them and prepare the dishes requested by Kali in this or that ritual. Some kalimais are transformed into temples and to do this they move from a distribution of female roles to an organisation of masculine power. This kalimai, although it had the architecture of a temple from its origin, was not heart of the concerns of politicians who sought to secure their votes in the elections. That’s why there was no cultural association behind Beauvallon. The kalimai, however, retained its primary function of bringing the separated back together in the internal relations of families. The interviewee’s whole symbolic system was related to the control of family, ethnic and caste conf licts, which are often linked together. We did not have the opportunity to observe a collective ceremony for this cult. Economic inequalities have been signified with reference to Luxmi, which is the symbolic landmark of differentiations that have deepened since independence by transforming the acquired position of the high Baboojees, Marazs and Vaishs castes into relations of economic inequalities in the context of current sugar mergers. One could also understand the history of the numerous associations in the region, some of which were in the process of unification within the federations, the cultural centre still located in Port Louis. Our interviewees had a way of presenting the symbolic system of kalimai without mentioning the very numerous conf licts within families, among inlaws, between groups of different castes and, therefore, with different rites, which lead people to decide organisation of a cult to solve them. Finally, we felt that kalimai was a forum for dealing with the symbolic violence found in a whole series of social relationships: gender, generation, caste and community. For, the rituals practised locally draw the distinctive lines of the associations created at the time of the renovation or transformation of kalimais into temples.

Notes 1 Creole term meaning “bitter taste” in reference to the vegetable of the same name. 2 Creole term, generally used to mark a time or to designate the houses which were built out of local materials: with the straw of the dried canes. 3 The creole term godon will be explained later as “room that serves as a bedroom.” This is only a reserved part of a room. The godon is next to the veranda when there is one. 4 The immigrants. 5 Burlap/hessian.

The Kalimai of Camp de Masque Pavé  123

6 It is a Hindi term which means money. 7 The term goulettte represents the space in the line between two rows of canes. 8 In the second part, we will discuss the content of the reports on which the integration of the FUEL company was founded, where we find different actors: shareholder owners, financial institutions and labourers, small and large planters. 9 It is the Indian term which designates the kalimai and also the altar. 10 The Hindi term saree, which refers to a garment shaped like a drape worn by Indian women. 11 The murti is a Hindi term, which means a deity as an animal or human figure. 12 The seven sisters dress in red, the f lag of Mahavir Swami (Hanuman, the guardian of Kali) is red and the f lag of Brahma is white. 13 The tikka is a point of vermilion color worn by married women. Widows wear a chandan tikka that is white only to go to kalimai. 14 Sindoor is the vermilion colouring powder. 15 Let us note that Kali and the seven sisters cannot be prayed to inside the houses. 16 Here, through Dhi, we pass, from the protection given by kalimai to the family, to that given to the whole village. 17 Let us note that this kalimai called mandup is without doubt one of the oldest of the island. It has the shape and structure of a temple in which the seven sisters were locked up. All other deities are outside. 18 What is called caste on the Mauritius island are actually Varnas according to the definitions given by Louis Dumont in the introduction of his book The Caste System in India. See Chapter 1: “These four different castes are to be compared with the body of the man. The Brahmins represent the head, they are the intellectuals. The Kshatryas represent the arms and so are the warriors. The Vaishas represent the stomach. They are traders and farmers and the Sudras represent the feet and are laborers.” 19 Note that no animal is sacrificed for the service of Brahma and Mahavir Swami. 20 The settler is the line manager of a section or department. He is one of the senior managers of the properties. 21 The mode of communication that prevailed in this interview was based on a mother/ son relationship. This term used by our informant was a mixture of affection with a role of education in the religious rites of kalimai. 22 Note that there are four stages in life. The first is that of Brahmacharia, the second the Grihastha, the third Vanprastha, the fourth Sanyas. These phases of life distinguish the period of premarital learning, the period of home and family formation, then that of social work and finally the age of wisdom and liberation of the body through the salvation of the child’s soul. 23 Puranic means belonging to the Sanatanist cults, as opposed to his in-laws who were Aryasamajists. Therefore the conf lict on the subject of the sindoor means the conf lict of differential belonging of the families to the Sanatanist and Aryasamajist cults. 24 See glossary. Shakti is a Hindi term which means energy, power. 25 This seems to indicate that the kalimai institution is built on the division of labour between the sexes, but the current revival of this institution and the way in which it is controlled would make it appear that, behind this feminine structuring of social relations, exists a male organisation with inheritance and family preference for boys who stayed with their mother after marriage. Moreover, the social control exercised by this cult and its effectiveness in conf licts are presented in a form of organisation more masculine than feminine, putting into play the informal relations of men (brothers, fathers, cousins ​​and sons). Add to that the fact that women’s entry into the working life changes living and working conditions. To update the new socioeconomic parameters, which are engaged in the fervour of Kali, we must analyse the cults of baharia puja, the real and symbolic role of Dewassia, who plays according to the rules of maternal preference to take advantage of them in the economic social space that is his.


Two kalimais are studied in this chapter, those of Chemin Cemetière and Petite Cabanne. We might have presented a third kalimai, that of Royal Road (also called Mare Zacot) because it is another place of worship integrated into the same system of production associated with the sugar plantation, which was organised around the large and small-scale livestock husbandry. Mare Zacot will only be studied in the later half, because we were able to observe and participate in a ceremony, Amourou puja. The analysis of this cult will highlight the relations of the various associations of kalimais in the region and will be an opportunity to produce a synthesis of our interview results, to situate the relationship of the local and national levels and their stakes. Chemin Cemetière did not create an association and become part of the same association as Mare Zacot or Petite Cabanne. This chapter focuses on the specificity of the Chemin Cemetière Kalimai, which has opened up to external affiliations. The Kalimai of Petite Cabanne has also recently mobilised and showed innovation in the rituals practised in order to be more in correspondence with local family changes. The tension existing between the affiliation groups common to these two kalimais has not evolved in the same way and makes it possible to establish a useful comparison to the analysis of these changes. Chemin Cemetière and Petite Cabanne share the same founding story with groups of families who used their own funds to build the religious buildings because, unlike Beauvallon and Clémencia, these kalimais did not receive any subsidy from the sugar estate for their construction. On the other hand, they are more recent, having been built at the time of sugar mergers and fragmentations. These places of worship shouldn’t be seen as having emerged through the sugar power at the time of the first mills. Being more recently formed, their founding coincides with the creation of the village of Camp de Masque Pavé, and they have supported the recent development of local businesses. Farming was practised in the plantations through small scale breeding, consisting on average of two cows, a few oxen, three or four bucks, goats and pigs. It was generally the women who had full DOI: 10.4324/9781003298106-6

The rituals observed at various kalimais  125

responsibility for this economic activity, excluding the distribution of milk, which was provided by street vendors who have bicycles. The profits, also managed by the women, were mainly devoted to the education of the children and to the needs of health of the family. This activity has now almost completely disappeared because of the intensification of agricultural activity for the production of pineapple and bananas, grown in addition to sugar cane. These fruits have been at the root of local economic development because pineapples and bananas1,2 are sold partly for export and partly at auction sales in the Flacq and Port Louis markets. But they are also crops that use a lot of herbicides, insecticides and chemicals to accelerate ripening. Daily care is necessary to get a good harvest. In addition, planters have to guard against theft. They must watch the fruits when they have reached maturity. In these circumstances, it is understandable that the best control of a crop lies in the chain of existing social relations, so that a fruit thief – who may be a neighbour, a relative or a friend – cannot easily sell the stolen fruits in the market. In fact, it was common for those who engaged in these abuses to be recognised and captured on the spot by the simple exercise of social solidarity. These cooperative relations are based on neighbourhood relationships where kinship and alliance bonds ensure the best social protection. These relations were maintained and facilitated by the collective management of places of worship, frequented by locals. The kalimais of Chemin Cemetière, Petite Cabanne and Royal Road have had this primary function of protection and simultaneously security of property and people. The differential symbolic organisation of the kalimais of this region is indicative of the social, political and economic changes that have taken place since Independence. The planters of the villages of Camp de Masque and Camp de Masque Pavé were among the first to engage in agricultural mechanisation in view of the geographical location of the lands that allowed them, but also, thanks to the political support of a candidate from the region elected to constituency ten3 and who became Minister of Agriculture at the time of the Labour Party government. Minister Boolell remained in this position from 1968 to 1982. The Labour Party entered the opposition from 1982 to 1995. From that date, the son took over from his father at the same ministry until 2000 when a new MMM-MSM government alliance emerged in the 2003 elections. The son Arvind Boolell, who is now the Minister of Agriculture, is still elected as Member of Parliament to the constituency 11, Rose-Belle.

Kalimai of Chemin Cemetière The visit to this kalimai brought us together with a group of seven sources; some were the small fruits sellers and vegetable growers, and others were officials in the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Labour, aged between 21 and 75 years. The discussion at the kalimai site did not start with explanations about the symbolic organisation of the place, but with a debate about the evolution and economic changes that have occurred since Independence. Obviously, this question was important for our interviewees and should lead us to understand the

126  The rituals observed at various kalimais

current function of this popular religious site in the social relations of production as in intercommunal relations or local political relations.

FIGURE 5.1 The

altar of the seven sisters of the Kalimai of Chemin Cemetière.

A new agricultural policy Changes in the local economy have been described as having been the product of an agricultural policy to promote diversification through the introduction of fruit and vegetable cultivation. I have a plantation of two acres of pineapple and vegetables. I grow for export and also for the auction market. It is productivity and quality that have been sought by the use of chemical fertilisers and insecticides, which was not practised before. If you do not put chemicals, you cannot harvest pineapples all year long. The pineapple season is in July/August. But with chemicals (doping), we can harvest all year long. Mechanisation has become necessary because of the lack of manpower that has manifested4 itself in the face of the disinterestedness of younger generations for agricultural work. The importing company of the machine took over the training of the planters. Today, Ireland Blyth Limited brought a device to water fruits with fertilisers. Previously, we put fertilizers in the ground. The machine can perform three operations at the same time: simultaneously apply herbicide, insecticides and fertilisers. Ireland Blyth came to give a demonstration and they will come back the next week. If there were not to be mechanisation, there could be labour force problems later on.

The rituals observed at various kalimais  127

It is the head of the company FUEL, in charge of the export of fruits on the European markets, who founded the association with the aim of training planters in order to obtain the best possible quality of products. Mr. Koenig formed a company called “Ruisseau Rose.” Previously, we planted pineapples in our own way according to the knowledge we had of these fruits. Since the creation of the association of planters “Rose Creek,” the method used on the island of Reunion and in France has spread by the same training to the planters who wanted to produce. Because it’s the quality that counts. The distribution system for fruits and vegetables was provided by two intermediaries, the company FUEL (Koenig) and a private entrepreneur, both auctioneer,5 industrialist and known exporter, Sarjua. There is Mr. Sarjua, an Indian, and Mr. Koenig. Koenig is a White man. He exports that in France and in European countries. Sarjua is of caste Vaish. He sends his workers to choose the fruits and comes from time to time to visit us.6 He exports about 250 tons of pineapple. Two regions produce pineapples for export: and Le Marianne in Long Mountain and Camp de Masque. It is Le Marianne7 which produce the most famous pineapple because of the sunshine of the Montagne Longue region, a valley located around Port Louis. Production prices for export are guaranteed and fixed in advance throughout the year. It is the exporter himself who carries the products. He collects the products on the spot. The benefit we derive from this is that we do not have to invest in the purchase of a truck or a van. The exporter comes with his own transport and it is an easy thing for us, because when he comes here, he chooses the pineapple that he wants to take and leaves those he has not selected. The fruits reserved for the local market are the worst. They are sold to the bazaar by Sarjua. The items that will be exported are the best, if there is a stain, these fruits will be sold on the local market.

Ritual arrangements and internal tensions between Raviveds and Rajputs This agricultural diversification and the resulting economic progress for smallholders led to the virtual disappearance of livestock farming, which previously

128  The rituals observed at various kalimais

played a very important role in the domestic economy. The old agricultural production system has seen change with the introduction of herbicides and fulltime employment. When the herbicide came in the market, we used it instead of paying the labour to clear the land and get rid of weeds that prevent the cane from growing. That’s why we removed the grass used for fodder.8 The administration is now encouraging the resumption of dairy farming by providing food for the animals. The government distributes animal feed “punac,” which replaces fodder. But it is difficult to feed the animals with these products only. We must give natural food: grass and water to the animals so that they produce a lot of milk. A control system on production and distribution has been put in place. When a cow dies, the government replaces it. You can buy a cow yourself but you have to register it. The pilot project encouraged the breeding of dairy cows. But the government does not reimburse the full price, when an animal dies. We only receive 20% of its price. The risk incurred by the breeder is 80%. So, if you buy a cow that costs Rs. 10,000, the Government will give Rs. 2,000. Currently, a dairy cow costs between 15 and 17,000 rupees. If a cow gives birth to two or three calves, the cowman will sell them and he will buy a new cow, justifying the sale of the calves to the butchers. Goats do not generate much profit. It is the cow that pays the most because it gives milk, produces fertiliser and reproduces. Calves can be sold at Rs 5 or 8000, depending on their size.9 In two years you can make a lot of money, but the goat does not pay too much. There was a time when it cost only 150 to 200 Rupees. I myself sold a goat to a butcher at 125 Rupees.10 The goats take two or three years to reach their adult size and you have to feed them in the meantime, all to win only 200 or 300 Rupees. Sometimes, goats die at birth and this has happened twice at home. I told my wife to sell the goats because there is not enough profit in this business. From this, it appears that the system of ceremonial exchange built on the production of goats has collapsed and the cattle breeding is inadequately protected by the administration to bring back enough profits. If animal raising has helped to educate children to become magistrates and lawyers, it does not give enough

The rituals observed at various kalimais  129

profit today to ensure an intermediate accumulation that can be reserved for the education of children. We can conclude that the symbolism of kalimai is no longer linked to the economic specialisations that have founded the social distinctions of families. In addition, women who were once engaged in daily worship today are working more and more outside. It is not surprising, in these circumstances, that the kalimai rites change. If we continue to offer boiled milk to the goddess Kali – which is the central moment of the baharias pujas as we will later show – it is not the same for animal sacrifices. These sacrifices are still practised but they are in sharp decline. Two or three years ago we performed a baharia puja here. We sacrificed goats and even pigs. People who eat pork, sacrifice pork.11 But it has been a long time since we stopped sacrificing goats. Previously, we collected money through our company12 and then we went to someone’s house where we formed our committee to decide, when would baharia puja be done. We do baharia puja, but we no longer practice animal sacrifice13 that has been replaced by fruit. This is called Dev Bhojan (synonymous with vegetarian), which means meal to God. The ritual reorganisation of which the interviewee speaks is indicative of an internal conf lict that existed between the low-caste families Ravived and Rajput who have contracted preferential alliances and practised caste endogamy. The conf lict would be about the ritual difference between the sacrifice of the pig raha puja and the sacrifice of goat baharia puja. The cult of the pig is still practised, but secretly, while the sacrifice of goats diminishes without having really disappeared. Further, in the interview, a source claims: Because of the division between Hindus, it is difficult to modernise kalimai. The division between castes is a kind of cancer that gnaws the Hindu society from the inside because there are” grande nation et ti-nation.” When my grandfather built this kalimai (I belong to the Ravived caste, a low caste), people say that he is a kalimai from “ti-nation” and they will not go there. My grandfather was aryasamajist, but today no one is really of this belief, there are only families that are mixed.14 Modernising a kalimai supposes the existence of an understanding between people. The old ritual opposition is not totally outdated, despite the passage of part of the community to the rites of Vedic Aryasamajists since 1910 when this association was founded. There were, in part, ritual arrangements, partly maintaining the status quo of old practices while others decided not to choose. They changed their place of prayer and went to pray in the neighbouring kalimais such as that of Petite Cabanne and Royal Road, because they found a miscegenation that suits them between the Sanatanist and Aryasamajist rituals.

130  The rituals observed at various kalimais

There is a conf lict. In our generation (he is 35 years old), we did not have a religious education and our whole life was centred on the material aspect with the aim of going to college. We do not know, in our generation, the difference between the Vedics (aryasamajists) and the Sanatanists. We have yet to adopt a mixed religion: when we do a prayer, either we are Puranics or we are Vedics. When there is a ceremony, we attend both. In fact, we believe in the efficacy of prayers more than the rites of ceremonies. Specifically, if someone asks me how Vedic rituals unfold, I cannot explain it to him. But if someone asks me to explain the Puranics rites as they unfold, I am just as incapable of explaining them. But the conf licts remain. The most important are the generational relationships. If I understand what you are saying to me, an Aryasamajist girl has married a Sanatanist boy of faith. If I do not do one or the other, it means that I do not believe in religion. That’s why I practice both rites. Some young people go so far as to leave religion behind. The training of Hindus in the field of religion and culture is of a very low standard, especially as regards the practice of ceremonies or practices related to daily life. Take for example, if there is to be a concert of Kumar Sannoo a great singer form India, many will agree to pay 100 Rupees to attend this concert. However, if tomorrow you plan to bring a Swami or a priest, few people of 40 will come to listen. Young people especially, they spend more time in bars and the problem of alcohol has become the number one problem in society. If you go to bars at seven in the evening, you will see that they are filled with people. I went in ceremonies. It is common to see the hall almost empty.

Specificity of the symbolic rites of kalimai

FIGURE 5.2 The

Kalimai of Chemin Cemetière.

The rituals observed at various kalimais  131

The ordering of divinities in this kalimai of Beauvallon space is very different from what we encountered in Beauvallon. The first observation we made is the absence of Brahma in the kalimai enclosure. Gowraya is placed outside the altar as in all kalimais. But this divinity, unlike the other places of worship visited, has its own territoriality. Figure 5.1, a photograph taken in 1994, shows that this goddess receives many offerings. Gowraya and Purmessi demand that animal sacrifices be practised. Blood is the symbolic vector used to solve open conf licts with close or distant relatives. There is no Brahma in this kalimai and Gowraya is outside the altar … There are the deities Gowraya, Saher, Mahavir Swami who are placed outside. Dhi is on the side of Kali’s altar to the left of Figure 5.2. He is not depicted like he is at Beauvallon, associated with Saher. ​ For Dhi, we offer rum, cigarettes and candles. This tradition of offerings has been preserved today. Dhi cannot be given sweet food. We follow its culinary tradition.

FIGURE 5.3 Gowraya, located

at the bottom of the Kali altar.

In conclusion, the relationship of the social to the economic has never been more clearly established than in the interviews presented. Naturally, the dialogue ended with the wish, long formulated to the local authorities, that this cult could be improved. One of the sources was a member of the District Council of MokaFlacq and, as such, attempted to present his grievances to the local authorities. He claims that he has not been heard, neither for the request to change the dirt road on a paved road to go to the kalimai, nor for any other improvement. ​ You have noticed that the path where you stopped is not asphalted until the kalimai. For that too, I made a request to the District Council, but the

132  The rituals observed at various kalimais

request was not received. It must be done because it is said of this place that it is the Chemin Cemetière. All Cemeteries road must be tarred, according to the law. We have been applying for ten years. Every year, we see the arrival of great gentlemen who come to measure the way, they leave and nothing is done.

FIGURE 5.4  The

entrance of the kalimai of Chemin Cemetière by an un-asphalted muddy road.

Although acting as elected representative from his village, the power of conviction of this district council member was finally limited. The interviewee then referred to his low-caste status, less because he considered it as inferior as because he found that he had, as a result, a contractual force too weak to be heard, including at the local government. We are thinking of converting kalimai of Chemin Cemetière a temple, but it will take time. We must organise. We cannot do like that a temple, we must organise ourselves. He deplored not having formed an association, which is seemingly the only way to be heard in the decisions being taken in the administrative sphere. Associations are appreciated, as more or less just and effective, and the powerful relationship that results is useful to those who may seek candidacy for electoral mandates, which any politician may need, sooner or later, to base its electoral majority. But as another said in the course of the discussion: Our God is of “ti-nation.” We will see, with the presentation of the kalimai of Petite Cabanne, which was also founded by families of low caste, that the social position of these families, in the political arena, is established in a very different way. These new informants were able to play according to the rules of association and openness to other family groups. Thus, are some devotees of this kalimai today associated with Tamils and Telugus

The rituals observed at various kalimais  133

– demographic minorities who play their numerical weakness to develop a contractual force through the game of religious innovations by implementing intercultural relations. Thus, Telugus acquired this particularly enviable position of a minority which makes up the majorities in the region. We will demonstrate this in the later chapter about the Amourou puja cult, which we witnessed in 1994. Our sources claim that they held a ceremony by inviting other community groups to participate. Of course, they recieved a financial contribution to carry out their worship. But this financial assistance was on time. It did not lead to an institutional gain likely to change their position in associative games. For this, it would have needed true social openness through the game of family alliances. Is that the case? We could not go further. We performed a puja. We passed by all the houses, even those of Telugus, Tamils. The latter make their contribution when asked. A few days ago, I made a big puja, I invited everyone without distinction, even a Muslim friend who asked me what he can give. I accepted his contribution because it was not an individual prayer that I did, it was a public prayer. I organised a committee and pointed out that a Muslim brought his share, which they accepted. If we eliminate the question of caste in the Hindu religion, we can go a long way. The conclusion of our informants was that their difficulties fall within the caste difference. We are not convinced that this was their only real limitation. To clarify this, let’s look at the kalimai of Petite Cabanne.

The Kalimai of Petite Cabanne The Kalimai of Petite Cabanne, where we held the same type of interview as at Chemin Cemetière, completes the information on how the fragmentations took place at the time of the closure of the sugar mills and how they intervened to promote geographical mobility closely related to social mobility. This process developed at the time of the formation of the first villages that replaced the sugar camps.

Geographic dispersion of kalimais and social continuity First of all, the continuity and the social differences of this kalimai were mentioned about the personal journey of our informants, there were six of them who mostly belonged to high castes, Vaishs and Baboojees, two informants were low castes of origin Raviveds. This division of caste was consistent with the history of local settlement, according to land data, which show the emergence, in 1912, of a class of smallholders in the region. At that time, fragmentation began, resulting in the founding of the villages that replaced the camps and the proliferation of kalimai places of worship. This proliferation of places of worship is a testimony to the social and economic differentiation that has occurred thanks to sugar concentrations, land speculation,

134  The rituals observed at various kalimais

and the diversification of production activities as well as the need to organise local transport. Any planter, having a first accumulation, could buy carts, oxen or lands and engage in small local trade for food and craft products. This little local story was reported in a quasi-impressionistic way, with little successive bits of information but sufficiently clear so that we were able to outline the process of empowering Indian society with regard to the old sugar camps. We can say that the memory of the people was even more precise when the story concerned them very directly: the white settler of La Roche spoken of in Beauvallon was Louis Enguerrand of La Roche Souvestre who had to sell his property “by forced expropriation” in 1912 to a London-based financial institution Credit Foncier of Mauritius Ltd. The proprietor was indebted by the loans which he had contracted in order to cover the advances necessary for the cutting of the cane. Then, a number of people were cited as having been the first major Indian landowners in the region – including Bisessur, Kadharoo, Peeroo, Balgobin, Mahadeosing and Gujadhur. These are the same names that were listed in the notarial deeds of lands purchased from the financial company that had put them on sale. We have, thus, been able to observe that the collective memory is fairly faithful in restoring, in broad outline, the local economic differentiations that have occurred. If the land where the Kalimai of Petite Cabanne is today has changed hands several times, “the shrine of Kali could not be crushed” according to our interviewees. The mill can be demolished but the kalimai remains. These lands where the first kalimais were installed are considered sacred and inviolable. They are doubly so, because they are donations made by the owners of the sugar factories at the time of the installation of the labourers in the camps and because these places carry in them the memory of the collective values on which the families’ quality of life relied; their differences as well as their allegiances revolved around the lands. It was specified that any buyer and new owner, in cases of land transfer, had to respect the collective memory of the place by donating the land where the kalimai was located to the inhabitants of the place. It turns out that the buyer, usually a big landowner like Peeroo in Petite Cabanne and Kadharoo in Beauvallon, had as employees or sharecroppers the residents of the place who were most attached to kalimai. Thus, the kalimai was the framework for the institutionalisation of the relations of production that linked the best interests of the owners and employees, who could also be small planters on their own. This is why any kalimai is the bearer of this memory, useful for the evocation of the first ancestors of the place, which found the distinction, important today, between natives and the newcomers. To be considered as originating from Camp de Masque Pavé, one must attest to one or more alliances contracted with the oldest families. It may be that these former families now reside in cities or other regions, but the allies left behind are witnesses to the roots of families living in the city. The process of integration and social differentiation of the villages played out on this particular mode of social continuity, explaining the proliferation of kalimai sites during periods of fragmentation and sugar concentrations. The geographical dispersion of the kalimais, far from being a sign of a local social differentiation, showed on the contrary, the multiple social and ritual arrangements on which the relations of

The rituals observed at various kalimais  135

social and family groups have been studied. This is what our sources seemed to say when they told us that no kalimai could be moved, let alone privatised. It is a collective asset that must be respected by all, including those who, strangers to the social community, have bought the land to cultivate it. Our informants mentioned the former Sirdar Radhey, who was a very big landowner but lost all his fortune and had to sell his land to Peeroo, an IndoMuslim, who donated this piece of land where the kalimai of Petite Cabanne. The Kalimai was there before the Sirdar Radhey became the owner. He bought the land and kept the kalimai he renovated. Then he sold his land to Peeroo because the land was mortgaged by the sons, who lost their father’s fortune. However, we cannot say exactly when Kalimai was built. It is very old. “Peeroo did not ask that this Kalimai be removed.” He told us “Eh Ram, this is the kalimai and I give you a donation, I will not run the machines.” Previously, at the time of Radhe, the place was wooded and we had simply installed stones. It was later that we built this kalimai. The gift of land always has a collective meaning and not a private one. This has great consequences for the understanding of the forms of accumulation that have made it possible for Indian farmers to gain access to land ownership. Previously, only the sugar estate existed, which means that Hindus lived in camps. They did not own land. At that time, whites accepted that kalimais were built on settlement land, which had the effect of creating for the workers a sense of confidence in them. Thus, the relations of the workers with their employers were forged. It is the estate, which built the Kalimai of Beauvallon, with the consent of the “coolies.” It was the oldest kalimai.

A collective relationship to the land The kalimais were a gift, recognised as such, by the labourers of the sugar estate. One understands why no house can be built without first invoking the tutelary deities of the place. A close relationship is maintained between the inside (family life) and the outside (the working life), in a historical continuity linked to the formation of larger groups, identified by their religious traditions and rituals. Kalimais have multiplied by the time the land was fragmented because the Indian society of the time had arrived at a more advanced stage of development and because the distinctions of status were then more clearly stated than on arrival. This is why Dhi is considered as the guardian of Kali and the one who authorises to enter the place of worship, thus to approach the goddess. The term “coolie,” used by the interviewee, specifies that it evokes the beginnings of the installation of the Indian immigrants on the sugar plantations, of the time of the temps margoze, where

136  The rituals observed at various kalimais

was the moulin cassé of Beauvallon15 previously described. Later, the same informant used the term Hindus to refer to the time of fragmentation, which saw the emergence of Indian planters independent of sugar estates in the region. The other kalimais were built as a result of the parcelling of lands. And at that time, it was the Hindus of this village of Camp de Masque Pavé, who built their altars, at the places where their lands were located. Here, religion has a meaning of affirming a difference and to mention the preferential family ties that have developed through the control of the displacement of women. This is why land fragmentation has led to the multiplication of kalimais, which have to be considered with hand sight as local matrices of social integration through work, at the origin of which it has been possible to invest for the purchase of plantation land at a time when the financial or sugar companies deemed it appropriate. It was in 1912 that some of the heritage lands of the moulin cassé of Beauvallon – also known as Bois Vallon – were sold to the labourers of the region. Some sort of collective savings were necessary and allowed the farmers to reach the status of small planter. The collections of money to make up these savings followed those of the circulation of women through which reciprocal relations were played out. Taking the lead for the cause, our interviewees told us that the kalimais of the region have multiplied in the face of the need for women not to move away from home. It is undoubtedly the opposite that has occurred. After the fragmentation, people started to live in the village and they made the decision to build kalimais for themselves: so, their wives did not have to go far to pray. These two periods of more than 60 years apart – from 1912 the local fragmentation of 200 acres of land – were well differentiated by the people who recognised the economic take off that occurred in the weakly differentiated Indian society in the beginning where there must have been hypergamy due to the lesser number of women in the early sugar camps (Carter, 1992). Although Indian women were introduced to Mauritius by private importers between 1834 and 1839, their numbers did not really increase until official immigration agents were instructed to favour their arrival. From 1850, premiums were paid to recruiters for the export of women and new measures were enacted in 1852 to encourage the arrival of men accompanied by their wives. Here is what is mentioned in a correspondence from the Secretary of Colonial Governor Higginson “No coolies would be allowed to embark for Mauritius unless each man should be accompanied by a woman.” The result of this policy increased the quota of women16 rose in 1842 from 12% to 50% after 1860 (Carter, 1995). You see, the women of Petite Cabanne cannot go to Beauvallon without them being accompanied. It’s too far.

The rituals observed at various kalimais  137

In reality, the geographical distance separating Petite Cabanne from Beauvallon is not very great, a 15 minute walk on the asphalt road. The problem is of a different nature. It is more simply the control of women by men and, therefore, preferentially that the kalimai sites have been vested with more spiritual powers. Indeed, once the various places of worship were established – such as Chemin Cemetière, Petite Cabanne, Royal Road also called Mare Zacot, and, the oldest of all, Beauvallon – each developed special religious rites corresponding to well-established traditions of families. Fundraising is always a key moment in the organisation of cults and this is how the first planters made the savings needed to buy the land at the time of fragmentation. The rest of the interview was even clearer. There has been a cohesion and a sense of oneness among the villagers which has developed a strong bond of relationship that symbolically attached to the circulation of goods and people, having to respect certain rules of distribution and social distinctions established at the origin of the foundation of places of worship.

The religious meaning of statutory differences We have come to consider the very special private/public relationship symbolically established by kalimais as a way of developing an unwritten law in which economic accumulation is inseparable from the social relations that made it possible. Finally, the social bond rooted by the popular belief in mother Kali, which we spoke about seeing at Beauvallon, would have no other meaning than the collective links to the development of local familie; the concept of development that applies to organic growth and local economic conditions. While it may be assumed that the kalimais of the first sugar camps were a symbolic framework for the unification of a weakly differentiated society upon the arrival of immigrants, the situation changed when land fragmentation created more differences. These differences were of social as well as economic nature; one being the justification of the other. Kalimais have multiplied on the agricultural land where there was concentration of workers. The established social differences had a geographical basis that the distribution of kalimais in the fields restores. The f luidity and social openness of the first camps has been followed by a differentiation all the greater in that family alliances have been structured on the principles of strict endogamy in the second generation of immigration. The emergence of a second generation of immigrants, born on the soil of Mauritius, coincided with the fragmentations of the years 1860–1870. The observable symbolic differentiation in the kalimais of the region testifies to this phase of social integration, structuration and closure built on the sexual prohibition, the very bases of the caste so that low and high castes supported each other, produced their differences while symbolically affirming their union. Unlike the frequentation of the temples, high and low castes each had their assigned place in the kalimai. This very wide social opening of the kalimais can be understood through the mutual relations instituted between certain deities when they are in the enclosure of the place of worship

138  The rituals observed at various kalimais

or outside. Kali distributed her benefits under the label of statutory undifferentiating while strongly affirming the division of social roles. Thus, the kalimai of Petite Cabanne, unlike Chemin Cemetière, has given a special place to Brahma.​ In this kalimai, as in all kalimais, there is Dhi, Sayer, Gowraya. These deities are placed to the left of Kali. On the right side, there is Mahavir Swami, Bramha, Durga and Saraswati. Saraswati is in the middle. Saher is the protector of Kali, the lownri, that is, his bodyguard. In the past, when there were still carriages, the person who was in charge was the lownri.17 Dhi and Saher are the lownris of mother Kali. They are his protectors. Brahma creates the welfare of the village because he is the creator of the universe. If you have a pain somewhere, you invoke his name and you will be healed. In other words, the healer will make a consultation invoking Brahma but definitely not the name of Kali.18

FIGURE 5.5 The

deities Shiva, Brahma (white flag) and two sister deities of the renovated Kalimai of Petite Cabanne.

The left/right distinction evokes the ritual division of the kalimai distinguishing and assigning a special place in space to the vegetarian tradition communities that give particular fervour to Brahma, Mahabir Swami, Durga and Saraswati. Nonvegetarian communities pass through Dhi, Saher, Gowraya and Purmeswari to access Kali. The left/right opposition is synonymous with pure/impure and refers to the caste distinction that operated in this social formation of Petite Cabanne. The distribution of divinities in the kalimai space at the centre of which is the altar of Kali is significant of the unification of the different statutory groups (high and low castes) and of the community differences, Telugus, Tamils and their mutual relations. We recall that the lower caste groups are more particularly sensitive to the tutelary deities Dhi, Saher, Gowraya and Purmeswari. They play their part in the dominant relationships instituted locally around the high castes, Vaishs, Marazs and Baboojees, relying on other groups of demographically minority communities in the region such as Tamils and Telugus.

The rituals observed at various kalimais  139

FIGURE 5.6 The

ancient kalimai of Petite Cabanne.

For example, in Figure 5.6, which is an overview of the old kalimai of Petite Cabanne, there are three altars at the left end, looking from the front, to place the deities Durga, Saraswati and Mahabir Swami. This pre-1993 structure is evidence of the multi-ethnic integration observed in rituals that associate Tamils, Telugus, Marathis and North Indians alike. This structuring of the kalimai space is related to the social differences that have become radicalised as a result of the internal tensions between low and high castes in intercultural marriage situations. Some of the faithful of Chemin Cemetière have moved closer to Petite Cabanne to develop a new ritual combining puranic rites and vedic rituals. This ritual innovation had a particular symbolic effectiveness because it was based on the history of land ownership in the Camp de Masque Pavé region, which was at the origin of both statutory distinctions and political emergence of some big planters. We will later discuss this relationship of politics with economics, which is found in the symbolic rationality of Indian popular cults. ​

FIGURE 5.7 Inauguration

of the statue of goddess Kali.

The private/public relationship established by this kalimai of Petite Cabanne, and the place it occupies in local political issues, were particularly well illustrated

140  The rituals observed at various kalimais

when we returned in 2000. It was to our great surprise when we saw the transformation that had taken place, because we saw a very elaborate temple where Kali (see Figures 5.7 and 5.8) was no longer represented abstractly by stones, but where she was represented by an icon where the same pure/impure distinction was found between the left side of Kali (the rites of blood and the space of tutelary deities)19 with a right side representing power based on statutory differences and referred to higher divinities – Brahma, Mahabir Swami, Saraswati and Durga. We noted too that Shiva, who was absent from the kalimai in 1993, was added. ​

FIGURE 5.8 The

kalimai of Petite Cabanne renovated the iconographic representation of Kali.

Temples: A religious versatile centrality politically exploitable We have outlined the social, political and economic meaning of this kalimai’s temple renovation since the year 2000. For this, we relied on the observation and analysis of baharia puja and Amourou puja, which have trained us to rethink the history of the plantation and the meaning to be given to the multiplication and differentiation of kalimais of the region at the times when the fragmentation occurred. We have been able to reconstruct this history broadly through the short live histories of the sources who were interviewed on the kalimai site in 1993. Moreover, the conf licts that developed in the area between low castes around Chemin Cemetière saw the faithful moved to Petite Cabanne, following their own relations of preferential alliances between families affiliated to these two places of worship. We could then understand the barycentre function of Petite Cabanne and Mare Zacot/Royal Road in the region, which have joined forces to validate intercommunity and intercultural relations of families likely to inf luence the electoral political framework. On the other hand, we have seen the existence of a fairly strong electoral stability, in a game of possible reversal of local alliances likely to change the situation of the major national political parties. To understand this situation, it is necessary to know that it is less the content of the electoral themes that determines the political positions than the strategies,

The rituals observed at various kalimais  141

implemented by the social minorities, to intervene in the conf licts of the dominant groups and indirectly instruct the majority election. That is why these symbolic instances of kalimais should be considered as places of high political importance in the village, the district council and the national federations alike.

Notes 1 These fruits are grown in abundance in that region and they are distributed across the island or to the main market like portloius and Facq. 2 Bananas are grown on the slopes of Mountain Macro. 3 The former ministers of the constituency are Satcam Boolell, Khersing Jagatsingh and Ramduthsing Juddoo. 4 Young people are more likely to work in existing textile companies in the region, and many of them are studying to become professionals or to enter the public service. 5 The auctioneer Sarjua is a wholesaler of fruits and vegetables who buys the products sold by the small planters on the wholesale market at auction. Once the products are purchased, he resells them on the spot to the retailers who own stalls in the Port Louis market. This auctioneer’s function is an economic one of complex mediation between planters, traders and consumers. It still exists in Mauritius for products bought and sold on the domestic market. In the past, it was the goods carried by vessels that were sold at auction to the traders disembarked at the port for retail sale throughout the island. 6 Note that Mr. Sarjua, whose interview was held on 24 November 1993, is an auctioneer and exporter/importer. He has also developed an industrial food canning business located in Port Louis (Plaine Lauzan) and recently in Rodrigues. He closed the loop by importing fruit from Australia and Zimbabwe, while fruits from South Africa are imported by Cadet. He works in competition and in association with Cadet. Here, the exporter is at the same time auctioneer, in other words he plays on the domestic and foreign market. He sells at auction at once, directly and indirectly, products that cannot be exported. 7 Le Mariane is part of the geo-economic complex of Port Louis whose surrounding valleys allowed to reach the capital on foot. It is a very sunny place where pineapples are reputed to be of superior quality and destined for export. There is a majority of Vaish families who exploit large plantations of pineapple and peppers, exported to Reunion Island. 8 Note that the milk is baked in kalimais, which represents the desire of union of the people who organized the worship. Cults in Kali developed in parts of India that had a production system based on small livestock and cultivation. 9 Kalimai is a cult where all these animals are present: pigs, goats, cows, and this corresponds to production systems associating, in a certain way, breeding and agriculture. 10 Is this why the sacrifice of the goat is disappearing in kalimai cults, the price of which would be considered too expensive for the donors (we were told that its price would be Rupees five hundred)? Or, would it be the opposite reason, that the goat farming disappears, leading to the gradual cessation of these sacrifices? Are they more and more difficult to find? Remember that it is generally not a single goat that is sacrificed, but rather 5 to 7 goats, depending on the case. It seems that the campaign led by the associations against the animal sacrifices considered barbaric has consequences for the development of cults where are offered, instead of animals, fruits and vegetables. 11 Those who sacrifice pork in Hindu society are low castes like Raviveds and Rajputs. 12 Unlike the other kalimais – Camp de Masque Pavé, Beauvallon, Petite Cabanne, Boutique Joseph, Mare Zacot and Clémencia dit Petit Verger – this kalimai Chemin Cemetière is managed by a company. Curiously, this kalimai seems to be the most neglected. This anomaly may mean that the founder and the president are not

142  The rituals observed at various kalimais

supported unanimously among the members of society and that there is a certain mistrust of people, so that the celebration of worship is reduced to a quasi-private use. 13 This vegetarian/carnivorous distinction leads to the Divinity/God distinction. To the higher quality of God is associated the vegetarian fact which appears as a progress in the history of humanity. Can we go further and say that monotheism means progress in the history of civilisations? Moreover, the offerings made to all the sister goddesses, to Kali herself, are animal sacrifices, but the God-men integrated into the kalimais are vegetarians. So is Brahma and Mahavir Swami. This difference would ref lect the inequality of men and women considered to be of lower stature. The only exception to this rule is Dhi, but he is not the equal of a God, he is only a guardian attached to the person of Kali. Therefore, the symbolic function of Dhi is the one that varies the most according to kalimais. We have seen that Dhi is sometimes identified with the white owner. 14 As in Beauvallon, there was marriage between Sanatanists and Aryasamajists, but unlike Beauvallon, Chemin Cemetière did not include in his worship the belief of Aryasamajists. In other words, the dominant groups are the low castes and the mixed marriage or marriages were made for the Sanatanists. 15 The moulin cassée is an image used to say that the mill went bankrupt. This was the case after a bad harvest following a f lood. This cataclysm occurred while the owner had borrowed money to make advances for the harvest. And the crop was not good. 16 No “coolie” can be allowed to embark for Mauritius without each man being accompanied by a woman.” M.A. SA Series. 17 In the structure of kalimai there is a differentiation of professions and therefore of caste. This differentiation is internal to kalimais. Could the function of kalimai have been to fix and maintain the caste relations of the village by separating the families according to the relations established with the religious system? 18 Recall that kalimais were created by societies and each has a specific role: one thing is the role of Kali, another is that of Brahma. This is the second time in the interview that Ram Bhinoo speaks of the action of the healer: he is the healer of the village. 19 The deities Shiva, Brahma (white f lag) and two sister deities of the renovated kalimai (Durga and Saraswati). These deities have changed places and are left of Kali in the renovated kalimai. We will see the exact meaning of this recent change.


The typology of the previous studies would not be complete without the comparative presentation of the symbolic systems of the two kalimais known as Boutique Joseph and l’Unité of Camp de Masque. Their symbolic system is unique in that they have not been modernised to accommodate more small families to pray due to the availability of the space. In view of this evolution, two temples were founded. The first was found by the Hindus from the former Kalimai of Boutique Joseph. The second is a Tamil temple which, like that of Mahébourg, integrates all the deities that were once installed in the camps or in the fields following the social evolution of the Hindu and Tamil planters, partly independent of the FUEL company, partly employees of the factory. We can establish four great distinctions between the kalimais studied. ● ●

-Kalimais that have become fully private, many family-owned. - Kalimais that act for profit because of the presence of a diviner-healer who has a clientele, manages the place himself and officiates in the ceremonies he organises or gives advice on. Kalimais of a more collective character because of the existence of registered associations. - Kalimais with spatial organisation that symbolises the caste difference on which the foundation of the cult was based, and/or on which the decision to renovate was related. These renovated kalimais give rise to restructuring of the symbolic space, separating more or less clearly divinities according to their gender and their nature. This is how we understood the social and historical meaning of right/left duality, marking the distinction between pure and impure in the Indian caste system. The inequality instituted in Mauritius between the tutelary deities and the higher deities in the renovated kalimais, as in the temples, is the sign of the growing distance of caste and/or ethnic DOI: 10.4324/9781003298106-7

144  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

groups during the sugar development. The first kalimais of Boutique Joseph began to be renovated, but there must have been a conf lict because we see in Figure 6.1 the work has ceased. L’Unité, the second kalimai, was moved along with the camp destroyed by Hurricane Carol in 1960. The Hindu and Tamil temples of Camp du Masque appeared in the 1960s when Mauritius was preparing for national independence. They naturally bear the imprint of the first ethnic differentiations that have been closely followed by caste distinctions.

Transformation of the Kalimai of Boutique Joseph since independence The Kalimai of Boutique Joseph is much less attended than that of Unité, which we will discuss in the second section of this chapter because a Hindu temple, located not far from the latter, was recently founded by an association affiliated to the Sanantan Dharma Temples Federation, whose headquarter is in Port Louis. As a result, the kalimai has undergone very few changes. It belonged to a family of great Baboojee high-caste planters, from whom one of our interviewees – who has remained on the spot and resides in his parents’ home – joins the kalimai. Many of the former residents of Camp de Masque have moved to the city, as has our interviewee’s extended family.

Introduction of Brahma in kalimai The Kalimai of Boutique Joseph has a peculiarity: the deity Brahma is present in the kalimai enclosure, which is not the case elsewhere. This is a symbolic rearrangement linked to the fact that this place of worship was the object of a re-appropriation, after the departure of the former owners, by the workers who came from two different estates: that of Mon Loisir belonging to the Lagesse family and that of the property of Gujadhur.

FIGURE 6.1 The

Kalimai of Boutique Joseph.

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  145

The name Joseph, taken by the kalimai, is the name of the former owner of a Chinese shop which the kalimai has replaced. S., our interviewee, specifies that the land on which the kalimai is installed belonged to the family of his grandmother, who sold it to a large Muslim landowner in the area, the same person who acquired the kalimai land of Petite Cabanne that we described in the previous chapter. According to tradition, this new owner not only did not destroy the kalimai, but he participated in its modernisation,1 which was not carried all the way to the conf licts that were opposing the families from intermarriage between high and low castes, between Hindus and Tamils whose rituals differed. The introduction of Brahma to the kalimai, dividing the space between pure and impure, symbolises the opening of the kalimai to all villagers or workers who practice their Aryasamajist or Sanatanist rituals. This place of prayer, once reserved for high castes, has become that of all villagers, regardless of their origins and status, since Kali is the goddess of everyone. The presence of Brahma who is prayed first before Hanuman and that of the lower deities associated with Kali make possible the sharing of space where everyone respects the prohibitions of the other.

An original symbolism of economic success The second major symbolic aspect of this kalimai is seen in the interview when S. adds that it is Laxmi who is the most venerated goddess of the place and to whom the economic success by money is attached. This region has been the setting for an emergence of Indian smallholders, since the advent of the Labour Party (PTR) in 1930 and the development of trade union and cooperative movements. On a symbolic level, the presence of Laxmi, to which this interviewee says he is particularly attached, emphasises the vegetarian rites which characterise the ceremonies performed in this kalimai. There are no sacrifices of baharia puja animals, and the divinities usually found in the kalimais would have dispersed. In this way, S. confirmed what we had learnt elsewhere: that the fragmentation of the land and the foundation of FUEL have resulted in the dispersal of divinities on the plots of cane plantations newly acquired by the Hindu planters. In this way, there has been a multiplication of places of worship and a development of associations in the region. Then, there was concentration of land and installation of workers on the land owned by the mill. The cults were transferred near the places of residence and work. Thus, the original cults of Père Laval and Brahma were erected near the factory. Their establishment followed closely the land history of the Unité that we have reconstructed from the notarial deeds of the mill which saw successive owners from 1865 to 1930. ​

146  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

FIGURE 6.2 The

chimney of l’Unité.

The mill of l’Unité, which was attached to the lands of Boutique Joseph, belonged to white and “mulatto” owners who sold the property in 1881 by compulsory acquisition to The Agricultural Company of Mauritius Limited (blue colour), the financial institution of which they were debtors. Between 1907 and 1915, this property without mill will belong to Cayeux. Then, in 1916, Gujadhur acquired the L’Unite which in 1939 became The Union Flacq Sugar Estate Company Limited.2 Indian labourers did not access the smallholding until the time of the fragmentations between 1904 and 1907. That is why, there was, from the beginning, a presence of a cult of Father Laval located below the chimney of the factory built by Paul Noyau in 1899. Then, the acquisition of l’Unité by Gujadhur, a great planter and Hindu businessman, was accompanied by the foundation of an altar of Brahma, placed against the buildings, near the chimney of the factory, where, at the time, was crushed sugar cane by animal traction. When Mr Gujadhur sold his land to Mr Coombs who was the field manager, he had the idea to build a camp here. People went to see Mr Coombs and asked him to give them a place to install Brahma. There was Mr Gujadhur, Mr Lagesse, who were great believers in Brahma. So, they did not destroy it. Mr Coombs gave us a piece of land where Brahma was transferred. We had a priest coming. I was there at the time and we had a ceremony there, there was an officiant Dewassia called DJ who organised a special ritual to offer food. sweet – khirs, puris – to Brahma even before he was transferred to l’Unite. The worship of Père Laval, like the worship of Baram, were the tangible signs of the changes in ownership – Creoles, whites and Indians – during which the estate management practices have changed. Both places of worship have been the frame for the institutionalisation of community ties that have been established between

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  147

white landowners and Indian and Creole agricultural labourers. Between the two communities, Indian and Creole, there have been syncretic religious practices, which have been mentioned as an explanation to the effectiveness of the prayers made in these places, in answer to the promises made to the goddesses to achieve success in your endeavour or to solve a problem. We have seen previously that Dhi is considered as the symbolic equivalent of Père Laval, in the same way, that Baram is a divinity that differentiates people of different statuses, of low and high caste, around a ritual imposition, which mixes the Puranic and Vedic tradition. The faithful are vegetarians and opposed to the practice of animal sacrifices. They offer Chinese gourds or fruit or vegetables as the symbolic equivalent of blood. Baram and Dhi are omnipresent throughout the region, but they are not always associated with kalimais. Boutique Joseph as Beauvallon integrated Brahma and Dhi. On the contrary, the kalimais of Clémencia and Petit Verger3 do not have Brahma and devote a particular cult to Dhi. Brahma is located outside and is on a small fenced altar near the church, another way of showing the relationship between Indians and Creoles at the time of the oldest mills, here the Fabre mill and the property Hermitage between 1820 and 1885 (Rouillard, 1964).

The founders of kalimais are the founders of cooperative movements In the same way that the acquisition of the mill of l’Unité led to the establishment of a cult by the new Hindu owner, most of the first large Hindu planters founded kalimais on the land they acquired at the time of fragmentation. They installed altars as a sign of their new status. DJ, cited for being the Dewassia of the opening ceremony of the new Brahma cult at the foot of the plant, is known in the region for being part of the group of the first big planters, with Peeroo, Hassen Dookhy, Kadharoo, Balgobin, who had more than one hundred acres of land and founded the Cooperative Society of Production and Consumption (CCS). The cooperative was founded by Mr Baranchobay who was the Governor General. And then there was my uncle named Ramnarainsing Hurday. He told me that we should found a cooperative that would belong to us. The cooperative society was formed. We called Mr Moorly Gujadhur and Mr Baranchobay. Mr Moorly lived in Curepipe. Then there was Mr Ramdin and Inspector Nundlall, all these people formed the cooperative. The “registrar” of the cooperatives who came was called Mr Rowdan.

The appearance of family kalimais in the large plantation The uncle of our interviewee was, in the 1980s, councillor of the District Council of Moka/Flacq. There was class differentiation, which went through the family divisions, which explains his difficulty during the interview in distinguishing

148  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

the big farmers from the small ones who belong to the same Marazs, Vaishs and Baboojees castes. The virtual privatisation of kalimai that we see today is obvious because, on the one hand, it is the son of this informant who is the only manager of the place, on the other hand, because there is no association creation. This situation can be interpreted as referring to the economic inequality that has been felt among the families of large planters, distinguishing the large ones from the small planters through the distribution of family inheritances. Associative interplay then applied to the economic institution of the cooperative while kalimai remained the framework for the enforcement of restricted family relations, which expanded in the direction of the distinction of caste, considered a division of social more than economic nature. This explains in the vicinity of the graves of the Hurday family’s deceased parents earlier described on the state, as was the custom in white families, before the cemeteries were created in the location of churches.

Large plantation division and differentiation of cooperatives movement Our informant now considers himself a small planter because he owns less than five acres that he has already distributed to his children. As a result of inheritance, the big planters of yesteryear have segmented into units of smaller families, some have moved to the city to provide schooling for their children and to give them a place in the liberal professions, in administration or business. Others sold their land to invest in trade. Finally, some have retained their land heritage while having gone to work in England and have kept the possibility to return by participating in important ceremonies in the lives of families who remained in their region of origin in Mauritius by their donations and offerings. The current land structure of the area consists of a small plantation below the mountains and large plantation on the slopes of which the owners are absent and having resident sharecroppers. These are often also small independent owners. The relationships maintained between small and large planters are hardly mentioned in terms of economic cleavage. Moreover, the small planters are presented as economic actors who invest a part of their profits in the cooperative. The informant will say that the small planters have obtained the credit advances for their plantations. No distinction is made between large shareholders and small shareholders of cooperatives. Yet two management systems and two planter associations have been established. However, S. does not belong to one group or another, because his father was one of the big planters in the area. From this point of view, he himself comes from a family of big planters even though he would have become a small planter in the meantime. His statutory affiliation is more important than the economic status. He says: We have three Consumers Cooperative Societies (CCS) and the majority of the inhabitants are small Hindu planters. There is only one big Muslim planter named Mr Peeroo. He lives in Medine. They have their land at Queen Victoria. And then you have Hassen Dookhee. He is a Muslim too. They have about 100 arpents.

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  149

The distinction he has made between large and small planters will be well established only when he evokes those who have been associated as shareholders of the Cooperative Bank of Mauritius. The big planters are grouped in the “Syndicate Bank.” The social and economic division is no longer institutionalised except in the case of financial practices, credit or even services provided by lawyers or solicitors to settle differences: each group has created an administration to defend its interests. Only small planters cultivate about 100 or 50–100 tonnes of cane. The big planters make about 500 tonnes of cane (which makes a significant annual income). But we pay for our secretary, our attorney and our lawyer. We take our card and we ask the cooperative to lend us money, about 150–175 Rs, to transport the canes. Unlike the first “we” to evoke the creation of the cooperative, there is the second “we” which refers to the association of small planters of which S. is a part. The organisation of the association is precise. The small planters operate through their association on the money market. Every two weeks, the cooperative’s inspector came to approve loan applications, to buy land. We have had money advances for insecticides, for manure, cutting, trans-shipment and transport. We were shareholders and paid ten Rs. As far as I was concerned, my shares were 155 Rs. It was in 1955. With the money, we produced money.

Desertion of the kalimai and foundation of the temple Faced with these explanations given about the economic and social life of the region, while we came to know the symbolic practices related to kalimai, we were surprised by the fact that the kalimai looked truly deserted. It should have been quite different according to the history of its founding by the families of the great planters and high castes. Why have those who undertook the repair of the kalimai abandoned it today? Figure 6.3 shows that the wall of the enclosure is unfinished and that there is no electricity, even though it is well located at the crossroads of the main road that leads to Flacq, not far from Total petrol service station. A conf lict must have arisen for the management of this kalimai. S. will not speak about this conf lict but will explain that the nearby temple is now used as a gathering place for people who want to pray. It evokes the foundation of the temple in the same way as that by which the deities entered the kalimai. After having been dispersed at the places of production, the divinities were transferred to one place and structured in space according to a symbolic sequencing revealing the social structure and the statutory differences

150  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

existing between the people. Finally, the Kalimai of Boutique Joseph preserves this unfinished aspect of the popular cults which gives them a certain f luidity against the conf licts related to caste alliances as well as to the power stakes engaged between maternal and paternal groups within the same families. The newly created temple became the place for the articulation of local power to political power through the national federation which subsidised the construction alongside families who organised fundraising from the current residents of Camp de Masque.

Process of desertion of the Kalimai of l’Unité The kalimais distributed in the space of the old mill of l’Unité have a look of dispersion, and the Kalimai of l’Unité, like that of Boutique Joseph, is today disused. If social and geographical mobility is the cause of the abandonment of these two kalimais, the first Boutique Joseph was deserted due to the departure in town of the majority of the faithful who frequented it. The abandonment of the l’Unite camp residents is not because of the same economic emergence as those of Camp de Masque, but comes from the economic stagnation of its inhabitants who had to leave like all those who remained in 2000 in the camps that were to disappear from the island’s territory that saw the inhabitants relocated. The abandonment of the Kalimai of l’Unité will take place shortly after the faithful of the kalimai association federate to the Sanantan Dharma Temples Federation. In the case of the success of some, of the economic stagnation of others, these opposing situations involved the same movement of alienation from the kalimais when they could not be renovated or transformed into temples, because the population that remained did not have the means. But, in any case, the kalimai sites remain, and these are sacred places.

From the dispersion of divinities to their integration on the site of the Kalimai of l’Unité The story of the Kalimai of l’Unité begins with the forgotten history of places of worship scattered over the cane fields where people used to work. This kalimai comes from another altar of Kali mata. Previously, there was no kalimai here. Our ancestors moved things and built this kalimai. It was in 1960, at the time of Hurricane Carol. From our interviewee Soobas4 we have endeavoured the particular geography of places of worship scattered in the fields of l’Unite. We first went to her residence in the village of l’Unite where FUEL’s employees lived in permanent houses, built by the Central Housing Authority (CHA) following the 1960 Hurricane Carol. At that time, the straw huts of the old camp were completely destroyed.

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  151

The visit to the fields has been visited where the divinities have been installed most often at each of the intersections which delimit the fields of sugarcane: Dhi, Shiva, Baram and Père Laval are part of the divinities dispersed in the fields and which carry positive representations that attach to Kali whose benefits are expected. Secondary deities were also visited but not always named. Some of them are located with the lower deities in the kalimais so that they control the evil forces of which are a privilege medium when there are unresolved local social tensions. The first part of the visit was more lightly devoted to the male deities, venerated in the kalimai and outside, and located under the old mill chimney, under the ruins of the old buildings of the factory and on the site of the former camp destroyed by Hurricane Carol in 1960, where the offices of FUEL5 are today.

FIGURE 6.3 The

altar of the seven sisters of l’Unité. The figure of Père Laval in the centre.

Therefore, we started our journey with the two oldest places of worship, of which we were told that the divinities were both very effective to fulfil the wishes formulated and find solutions to the problems of daily life and work of the residents. The small altar of Baram,6 of which we have already spoken, the one which is leaning against the ruins of the old factory and the niche representing the altar of Père Laval at the foot of the chimney of the factory, were the two favoured places of the visit before we start a long circuit across the fields to see the other deities placed at each junction of the untarred muddy roads. Saint Père Laval and deity Brahma do not have an equivalent status in the Hindu religion and it was shown in our fieldwork that in the social history of Boutique Joseph’s Kalimai, Brahma occupies a place inside the sacred space. Conversely, if Brahma was not integrated into the kalimai space of l’Unite, he had a special place on the altar of Kali. This symbolic difference ref lects the distinctive social and economic history of the village of Camp de Masque and l’Unite camp. The first has experienced an economic emergence of some of the

152  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

small planters who have since settled in the city. The second was not acquainted with this situation so that the labourers and craftsmen remained in the camp located on the patrimonial lands of the FUEL factory. Brahma symbolises the economic success of some and Père Laval meets more likely the workers of modest condition who did not have access to the private property during the sugar development.

The organisation of the kalimai since its displacement after 1960’s Hurricane Carol As soon as we arrived in front of the kalimai of l’Unite, a stone of human form slightly set back and bigger than the seven others caught our attention. There were not seven stones representing the seven sisters of Kali as in the other kalimais, there were eight. This figurine represented Père Laval and occupied a very central place on the same horizontal axis as the other deities. We had already observed the existence of an eighth deity in the kalimai altars of the northeastern districts of the island. The explanation given to us in what we considered an anomaly in the north was that the eighth deity bore the name of Bairo, a divinity of the Hindu popular religion known to be one of the representations of Shiva. Here at l’Unite, Pere Laval has a status very different from that of Bairo. We have supposed that the presence of Père Laval in the kalimai was the sign of the existence of different rituals practised in this kalimai, where each group of social belonging would have offered the deity that represents them the most. Then Soobas enumerated all the goddesses according to their geographical position on the altar: There are seven deities. The middle one, which is the largest is called Kalika Devi7 … The other deities are Agwan Devi, Sittla Devi, Manjra Devi, Pancham Devi, Chatam Devi. We also have Saher, Dhi. We only offer fruits to these goddesses. The first goddess is Agwan, the second Manjra, the fifth Pancham and the sixth Chatam. Sitla was the only goddess named with Dhi and Saher. As can be seen in Figure 6.9, Dhi and Saher are located, side by side, under two different trees to the left of the altar of Kali, as in Beauvallon. As for Sitla, she is on the right on a separate altar. The presence of Sitla in preference to Gowraya, which is usually still present in the kalimais, represented the second level of social transformation in the region. The replacement of Gowraya by Sitla suggested that the Hindu who became independent small planters on fragmentation lands near l’Unité, were originally low caste. The third most recent symbolic level of the transformation, which was about five or six years old at the time, could have eluded us if we had not been aware that any change, any new ordering of the interior space of a kalimai always referred to a social process of transformation.

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  153

FIGURE 6.4 This

kalimai was founded in 1960, the photograph was taken during the performance of Hanuman cult.

We then sought to know why the altar where people prayed to Dhi was placed at the foot of an uprooted tree, as can be seen in Figure 6.4 taken in 1993. The explanation given was simple, it was enough to listen to our interviewee who decided to do otherwise. We then cut the tree. We only offer sweet foods. Then, we erected the red f lag dhaja of Mahabir Swami, Hanuman. The rise of the dhaja happened during the preparation of the ceremony.8 ​

FIGURE 6.5 Kalimai

of l’Unité.

In 1999–2000, the kalimai was still beautiful: the space on which it was rebuilt is spacious, very close geographically to the old factory chimney, one of the most beautiful and best preserved on the island. Access to the site is provided by a wide tree-lined driveway, giving the feeling of entering the private area of a sugar mill whose approach to the administrative buildings is still covered with

154  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

lush vegetation and f lowers, a place maintained daily for the entry of the visitors. The altar of Kali at the unit has obviously benefited from a reserved and prominent location, which was devolved to him following a decision taken at the board of directors of the company FUEL. The path planted with trees and f lowers opens on the altar of Kali.

FIGURE 6.6 Dhi, located

to the right of the Kali altar protected by the shadow of the


The ritual was symptomatic of the social change in which some Hindus claimed the option of sacrificing animals during ceremonies as they had always done according to their traditions, another party having ceased with this practice deemed violent and ultimately destined to disappear. This opposition between Sanatanists about sacrificing animals or replacing them with offerings of fruits or vegetables was widespread throughout the island and divided Hindus attached to the traditions of origin from those who advocated an adaptation to their time. It was a real political divide, as we will see in the next chapters. Finally, the specificity of the Kalimai of l’Unité marked by the absence of Brahma for the benefit of Père Laval and the permanence of the offerings made to Dhi under the protection of an uprooted tree until Sitla’s replacement of Gowraya revealed the extent of local social changes from the years before independence until today. Despite this awareness of the tremendous change that took place locally, we did not even anticipate the possibility for the kalimai to be abandoned (Figure 6.6). Figure 6.7 is the final photograph taken on the visit in 1999 and 2000. We came back in 2004 to find that the kalimai was totally abandoned. We then had to delve deeper into inquiries of social changes in relation to these symbolic changes which, in spite of their importance, could in no way really change the structure of ceremonial manifestations. We then pushed to the end the analysis of the transformation of the religious, the economic and the political by the way in which they were articulated with each other.

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  155

FIGURE 6.7 The

abandoned kalimai at l’Unité.

The socio-historical and political significance of religious changes The inhabitants who had originally settled in the l’Unité and remained in the camp were mostly Tamils, Creoles and some Hindus of Saint Julien D’Hotman, a nearby village near the factory FUEL. The religious syncretism observed in 1999 by the presence of the figurine of Pére Laval on the altar of the seven sisters testified to the existence of homology relations established between the different religious practices of the residents of the camps in order to keep in balance the internal relationships of groups of workers of various origins on the sugar establishment of l’Unite first, then FUEL. If Dhi and Père Laval were recently integrated among the divinities of the Kalimai of l’Unite, it was not so with the other male deities Brahma and Shiva. Brahma is and could only remain outside the sacred space of kalimai to the extent that it was the place of expression of the first territoriality of the Indo-Mauritians at the time of the fragmentations. Since the unity camp and its kalimai were located on FUEL’s heritage lands, local residents did not have access to the land property, so Brahma/Baram stayed at the foot of the chimney of the mill, a memorial for the patrimonial character of the sugar estate. As regards Pere Laval, is the only saint consecrated by the catholic church in Mauritius. As for the Mahashivatree which is a pilgrimage organised once a year by the Hindus, the pilgrimage of Père Laval is organised by the Catholics who are grouped under the denomination of “general population.” In this census category, there are whites and Creoles but also Tamils, Chinese and Hindu Christians. The parades depart from all the parishes of the island to converge at Sainte Croix, where is the tomb of Père Laval. The pilgrims come to pray in front of his body, embalmed and exposed in a glass coffin. Masses are celebrated and broadcast on television. This unifying cult of the various Christian communities’ functions as a place of memory of the shared history of colonial domination, during the period of slavery under the French administration and that of indentured labour under the British administration. It is useful to recall, for this purpose, that

156  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

Père Désiré Laval lived in Mauritius before the sugar boom of the 1850s, at this particular period of radical change in the relations of production – from slavery to “indenture labour.” Like the kalimais, many places of worship of Père Laval are still spread over the former workers’ camps, some of which have been replaced by villages. Both belong to the popular religion, which has been nourished by the contributions of various religious practices. Thus, in the sugar camps were built original representations whose names are Dhi and Père Laval. The two dominant religions, those of Catholics and Hindus, inf luenced each other. In this hypothesis, the originality of Père Laval – who was hardly supported during his lifetime by his hierarchy as he ran up against the prejudices of the time (Colson, 1983) – would consist in having been the founder of a catechesis inspired by the popular beliefs of the labourers, all origins combined. In the same way that Brahma and Hanuman are divinities through which the relations of inequality between whites and Hindus have become naturalised legitimising posteriori the contractual content of the relations instituted by the “coolietrade,” Père Laval has become a mediation body relating to the internalisation of authority and power relations within the plantation. The distance maintained between the seven sisters of Kali and Father Laval as it is signified by a position slightly lower than the other deities on the Kalimai altar can be considered as a significant shift related to the behaviour essentially different from those who came with a work contract compared to those who were already there in the colony at the time of slavery, the “mulattoes” and the “Creoles,” in particular. Does the symbolic place of Dhi and Père Laval vis-à-vis Kali not evoke what, in the religious order, would represent different forms of authority and power? Finally, the presence of a kind of effigy of Père Laval, carved in stone on the altar of kalimai, was hardly surprising if we referred to the distant past of the island, during which interethnic and cultural relations were not as closed as they later became. The interbreeding of the Creole population still testifies today to these alliances that took place between communities of Indian, Chinese, African and white origin. Let us recall in this connection that the mill of l’Unite was the theatre of multiple fragmentations that began in the 1880s, that its full ownership was acquired by the Gujadhur in 1916 and that, originally, the mill of Clémencia annexed to l’Unite had as owners Tamil families mixed (white and Tamil) and allied between them (families Arlanda and Mooniasamy) who join to form a society from 1865.9 The integration of Père Laval during the transfer of kalimai after Hurricane Carol of 1960, while leaving to Brahma his own territoriality along the buildings of the plant is a useful reminder of the existence of a form of social link, which established a solidarity be the “Creoles” and the Hindus, solidarity limited to the conditions of existence and to the similar condition of existence and exploitation of the inhabitants of the camps, while recognising that part of marginal autonomy by which could be elaborated forms of imitation of the practices of the white population by displaced populations and vice versa. The major symbolism of the Kalimai of l’Unité can be seen as the recognition

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  157

of a unitary mode of functioning based on different religious practices referring to the historically established relations between the Creole and Hindu communities at the time of the first sugar concentrations. If, initially, the altars of Brahma/Baram and Père Laval had a very distinct place while being geographically close, one below the factory, the other at the foot of the chimney, is because their separation reproduced the division implemented among the labourers, distinguishing, for example, those who cared for the oxen and canes needed for the rolling mill – mostly Hindu – and the servants or craftsmen of the workshops – mostly Creoles. Today, these ethnic divisions of labour between labourers and artisans, subsist partially but their living conditions are hardly different according to the low wages perceived by the workers in the company. The proximity of Père Laval and the distancing of Brahma find their explanation in the general manner in which differences are instituted in the Hindu religion by assigning to each one its place and its territory. The resurgence of Brahma’s symmetrical vis-à-vis the Hindu population and Père Laval’s one “Creole” population would correspond to the hardly different standard of living between these populations, which do not have changed much so that we have witnessed a weakening of ethnic or caste differences. Thus the Kalimai of l’Unité, although little frequented and almost privatised by the few families remaining in the camp, still had a residual utility for the people currently living on the patrimonial lands of the FUEL company. Much different was the ritual change by the abandonment of the animal sacrifice to which the uprooted kalimai tree symbolically refers. It was preceded by the decrease or almost disappearance of the once f lourishing livestock. This change in the modes of production has been followed by the recent departure of the relocated residents l’Unité camp, as happened at the camp SansSouci which was transferred to Montagne Blanche at the time of the redundancies in the sugar industry. It made sense in such circumstances to see the faithful, not only change their rituals, but also more or less desert the kalimai. Animals, once offered, have been replaced by Chinese gourds or tender cucumber, depending on the circumstances. We were told that the kalimai could not be modernised into a large place of worship before 1994 because too few people had agreed to make sufficient donations for its renovation. Thereafter the association of kalimai federated to the Sanantan Dharma Temples Federation of Port Louis. The abandonment of the kalimai that we observed in 2004 coincided with the economic redundancies and the takeover of popular cults by the national federations. Finally, the ritual change of the past five years has been a step in preparing the adherence of some of the faithful to the religious orthodoxy formerly absent from the kalimais. Thus, one can interpret the presence of Sitla – a higher deity – is preferred to Gowraya, an inferior deity in the kalimai. The desertion of the temple which followed corresponds to the social segmentation generated and produced by the concentration of FUEL on Mon Loisir. Symbolic changes have multiplied as residents have been relocated elsewhere. We will later see that the process of reforming cults, the emergence or renovation of temples have been all the faster

158  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

as they were accompanied by relocations of former agricultural workers on new sites of housing and that were built workers’ cities necessary for the economic transformation being done.

From Shiva to Sitla and the permanence of cults related to witchcraft The religious orthodoxy symbolised by Sitla in the Kalimai of l’Unité was a more general process engaged in the region. Thus, the guided tour of divinities spread in the cane fields would teach us how the religious was articulated to the political. After considering the 2004 abandonment of the kalimai of l’Unite as a logical consequence of the planned departure of the inhabitants of l’Unite camp, the emergence of what was to become a future temple from a deity located in the cane fields was a sign of future concentration of local temples. There were already three temples at Camp de Masque belonging respectively to the Telugu, Hindu and Tamil federations. We will see how the region that had already shifted from Kali to Brahma, from Sitla to Brahma the kalimais was moving from Sitla to Brahma through the outer divinities spread over the cane fields. Let us study the recent cult dedicated to Shiva and its transformation, a real prelude to the emergence of a temple dedicated to Shiva, while the permanence of witchcraft refers to the political duality that separates the inhabitants of Camp de Masque.

The transfer of legitimacy from Brahma to Shiva The first deity encountered in the areas cultivated with sugarcanes was Brahma (see Figure 6.8), who could be understood as having been transferred to the base of the factory chimney and then to Boutique Joseph. Our journey then took an initiatory tour, highlighting the close link established during the discussions between the new places acquired by the outside deities and the recent social mobility of the inhabitants resulting in real statutory changes. The transfer of Brahma from the cane field to the factory, then to Boutique Joseph, was the sign of a new era (1916–1929) during which the relations of those who went to the city at the time of the fragmentation were established, which took place when Gujadhur took the management of the factory with those who remained on the estates to exploit it. At that time, Brahma was revered by all, and brought offerings. He had become the scene of the social distinction par excellence. He needed no special protection because he protected everyone. When Brahma entered the Kalimai of Boutique Joseph at the beginning of its renovation, it was because, around this cult, the small planters came together in association to control the place. At that time, the building of new male deities and the resurgence of witchcraft practices at places of worship, where animals were sacrificed at night, provided a measure of local change. It was Shiva that was the symbolic setting for the political change of the years leading up to the 2000 elections. ​

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  159

FIGURE 6.8 Brahma/Baram

in the sugar cane field.

In 1992, a new cult of Shiva, also called Mahadev Baba, emerged as the place of expression of new reconstructed relations outside the kalimais framework. Formerly settled in the cane fields of the region, this deity had been the object of a particular fervour, because it was a living lifted stone that was growing like a plant. There was nothing special about the environment to explain this choice, but it could be seen that the place was well chosen to hold gatherings as an annual Grand Bassin Pilgrimage on the other side of the island. The Hindus in the Camp de Masque area had become accustomed to leaving from this place to proceed to Grand Bassin. The stone did not have a tree to protect it, a sign of its supposed power. We returned later to the same place to find that the space had been fenced by a wire mesh and a cement slab had been cast in the form of an altar for Shiva while a stone bench had been built at the entry of the kalimai, where the Special Mobile Force (SMF) had engraved its initials on the back because of the donations it had offered for this renovation. Then a further surprise in 1999, cement poles and a white painted iron fence replaced the mesh. All the signs of a future temple were present in the interior space of the cult: the red f lag of Hanuman guardian of the place as well as plantations and small altars awaiting to have other deities when the time came. ​

FIGURE 6.9 Kalimai

Mahadev Baba situated on the plantation of FUEL.

160  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

At the origin of the formation of this cult is the former Commander Dayal of the SMF who had not yet resigned from his position, as he later did. As a resident of the Plaines Wilhems town in Vacoas, Dayal has a part of his family at Camp de Masque. He ran for the 2000 elections in this electoral district number ten of Camp de Masque, where he started the foundation of this new cult dedicated to Shiva. There is a direct relation between the exercise of an associative function for the construction of a new cult and the eventuality of being best placed as a candidate for the local deputation. The initiative of Commander Dayal has had the double effectiveness of articulating local relations with the power relations in the federations from which electoral strategies f low. By personally financing the construction of the new cult, magnifying the place that became a small temple dedicated to Shiva, Commander Dayal acquired the symbolic tool of a local political legitimacy different from that which was determined by his positioning in the police force, where he held important functions at the country level. Founder of the cult dedicated to Shiva, the resulting power placed him in the dominant position in general elections where he stood for parliament as a candidate. This religious approach guaranteed him the support of the electors who recognised him as a person whose social action had been beneficial to all. The preference given to Shiva, rather than to Brahma, lies in the capacity of the former who places him in the condition of transcending the caste distinctions without which his audience would necessarily have been limited in the region given the distribution of communities and castes among the voters. Shiva, by virtue of being outside the caste, is a potential frame to go beyond this border. In contrast, Brahma, too much locked in the local territorial game, represents the place of production of the social distinction. The kalimais that integrate Brahma into the precincts of worship have been places of predominantly Baboojee settlement, hence of high caste where strict endogamy has prevailed and still prevails today. The northern Hindus who integrate Shiva into their cults are in a position to be in a better position to gather a majority when it cannot be acquired without an intercultural and communal alliance at the time of the elections. Faced with this, minorities such as Tamils and Telugus10 according to the alliances between the national parties, are in a position to make and unmake majorities at the time of the elections provided the reunification of local interethnic solidarities, all castes combined. The visit of Camp de Masque to l’Unité seemed over, since we had followed the paths on a quadrilateral-shaped perimeter, when Soobas invited us to move away from these busy places to reach a more wooded place that could be seen on the horizon from the cane fields. We entered, unknowingly, the deserted places of kalimais villages, frequented at night, preferably by married women or widows seeking to solve a problem considered serious. The hidden and potentially dangerous aspect of Kali was going to be taught as this visit progressed. We arrived on these forbidden places, where

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  161

rites considered as harmful are practised since they are supposed to tackle the acute conf licts between people of the village. We understood that the kalimais of l’Unité and Boutique Joseph did not have much social efficiency for finding the appropriate solution so that it was the forbidden places, transgressing some major prohibitions of the society which were the framework of new equilibrium. We thus understood, by the opposite, the symbolic meaning to be given to the building of the temples by the faithful gathered in associations to realise them. The northern Indians had built their Shivala temple not far from Boutique Joseph, while the southern Indians built theirs along the national road to the Quartier Militaire district, near the Kalimai of l’Unite and Telegous at Camp du Masque Pavé. Through these three temples were arranged the ethnic and statutory differences of the groups that rely on them and the solidarities necessary for an electoral majority in constituency number ten. The new temple had something to do with an occurring conf lict between the social formations followers of the three different existing temples. We understood why the structure of a temple was indicative of established social positions, ritual validations, conf licts that marked the little local history. It is by the detour of the ambivalent positioning with regard to deities such as Kali and the secondary divinities associated with her, such as Purmeswari, whose place is assigned to the pantheon of male divinities, that the articulation of religion with politics was to be revealed a little.

Symbolic effectiveness of temples: local ethnic and statutory divisions The visit continued towards less accessible places where witchcraft was practised. The further we went in the labyrinth of places of worship scattered within l’Unite, the more we had the feeling of a local dislocation, visible because of the high attendance of these remote and yet eccentric places of the villages where witchcraft was practised, the existence of which we could not have suspected if we had not been led there. ​ The only tangible sign of the presence of a sacred place was generally a tree that stood out from the landscape when the canes were cut, and under which the altar was placed. It consisted of five stones, clad in red cloth, marking the frequent attendance of the place by the married women or by the widows who practised in this place the witchcraft symbolised here by the number five.

Sorcery and the emergence of temples: social division In the kalimais, the five stones generally assigned to the witchcraft are placed on a lateral altar, as in “Caroline” in the region of the Vallée des Prêtres north of Port Louis as in Fig 6.10.​

162  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

FIGURE 6.10 Kalimai

of Vallée des Pretes.

Such altars are also distributed in the fields under the protection of trees as we have seen in the previous photographs. They are visited by the branches of families who remained on the spot in the village but who no longer have the social support of the extended family to maintain the balance necessary for their development. The number five symbolises witchcraft as opposed to number seven, which represents the ideal stage of family balance from two ascending and three descendants to ego. The location of this altar of five divinities outside the control of the village kalimais is the mark of a maintained or desired distance from the dominant rules – of kinship, alliances or successions – which preside over family game. ​

FIGURE 6.11 An

ancient kalimai in a remote place in the sugar plantation of FUEL.

Many conf licts are experienced as insoluble because their solution would involve a disruption of the symbolically established order within the framework of the official cults where everyone must have the concern to validate the place which is assigned to him. The divinities related to witchcraft are all located outside the frequented places and are the framework of elaboration of original relations more or less considered as prohibited insofar as they have no chance of being taken into account by the society because they are inconsistent with the dominant relations of the associations that manage the temples and kalimais that have entered the logic of imposing orthodoxy by the Tamil, or northern Hindu federations.

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  163

The end of our journey could have been its beginning since we were driven towards the first place of foundation of the kalimais of the region. This place, filled with mystery, knew the ancestors of the families of the first labourers of the camps. We were told that the place was reserved for the cult of the pig, forbidden in the renovated Kalimai of l’Unité, because this ritual is considered as malicious against the neighbour. We kill a suckling pig. The ceremony is called Chand Biswas. The geographical distance separating this place from the other Kalimais was a sign of the social and economic distance separating the followers of this place, still frequented if we judge by the red sindoor drawn vertically at the top of the seven stones. ​

FIGURE 6.12 The

oldest kalimai of l’Unité.

This journey into the agricultural area of production, the workplace of the labourers, ended at the precise moment when the boundary of the permitted and the socially prohibited were established which marked the phases of the evolution of the Kalimai of l’Unité: from its foundation under colonisation to the transfer of the place in 1960, to its renovation in 1993 and finally its abandonment in 2003. The founding in 1960 of the Tamil Mariamen kovil temple located on the right side of the highway from Mount Ida in Flacq and its recent renovation in 2004 are significant dividing lines that have followed social fragmentation since national independence. They were driven by ethnicity and caste bias. The visit to the Tamil Temple of l’Unité was a lesson in the heart of the implicit social forces that worked deeply in society and intervene in contemporary changes.

Foundation of the Tamil Temple of l’Unité: denial of tutelary deities and ethnic differences L’Unité’s Tamil Temple was founded with the help of the FUEL Sugar Estate, represented by its Chief Financial Officer of “Societé Émile Sériès,” who

164  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

later became, in 1980, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of West East Agricultural Limited (WEAL), holding sugar company of Medine/FUEL. The organisation of the temple was, obviously, part of the ethnic assertion on the eve of national independence. With the departure of the large Hindu planters, for the most part, towards the big cities or Port Louis, some Tamil families from South India remained as labourers in the estates. They separated from the north Indians by founding their own temple Mariamen Kovil for the practice of their cults. ​

FIGURE 6.13 The

kovil of l’Unité.

In this temple, the reference to Mother Kali remains important but its real status has changed because the kovil is a closed place where the goddess is locked up while she is, in essence, a divinity from outside. She became Kaliamen surrounded by superior deities and males. This transformation from Kali to Kaliamen was accompanied by ritual changes towards Kali who became a vegetarian while having previously sacrificed the life of animals, to now cut fruit or vegetables like Chinese gourds or the young cucumbers in the outdoor cults that are kalimais. ​

FIGURE 6.14 Kaliamen, main

deity of the kovil of l’Unité.

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  165

Here is how the story of the foundation of the temple was reported to us: Formerly, Brahma was here at Camp de Masque, he is now at l’Unité. There is a kovil and also a kalimai. It was Monsieur Sériès who built this kovil. Tamils separate themselves from Hindus: When Mr Gujadhur sold this land to Mr Leclézio, there was a Kalimai at the Unity. There was an old Tamil lady who prayed night and day at the Kalimai. One day, I saw her sobbing. I asked her “Grandmother, what’s happening to you?” She told me that Mother Kali was crying. She knew that the establishment would be sold. We went to see mother Kali. It was true, we saw tears in her eyes. We saw tears f low. Many people came to see Kali crying. It was true. Two or three days later, the establishment was sold. The lady’s name was Mama Varyvel. The three key people who achieved the integration of FUEL (1948) – Series, Gujadhur and Leclézio – were evoked about the foundation of the kalimais as temples. The Tamil Temple is an old construction. It dates from 1960, after Hurricane Carol, and it was renovated in 1977, thanks to the donations granted by the sugar company FUEL. A commemorative plaque has been installed on the entrance wall of the temple. As formerly Gujadhur was considered to have founded the Brahma cult in l’Unite, Émile Sériès is considered today as having been at the origin of the modernisation of the Tamil Temple. The tears of Mama Varyvel, who saw in the sale of Gujadhur shares as the end of an era, are real. Relationships are changing, Indian communities in the north and south, once united in the camps, are separating. The Tamil Temple was built at the same place where worship was located not far from the residence of Sirdar Velloo Chelombrom, who was the President of the Tamil “Church” [sic], member of the Village Council, President of Tamil Welfare Cultural Association and member of the Mauritius Cooperative Credit Bank (MCCB). The construction of the temple also coincided with the construction of houses in the village of l’Unite after the destruction of the Case la Paille made of local materials (straws and corrugated sheets). In general, the decade of the 1960s marks, for all Mauritians, the date of the changes that prepared and followed the National Independence acquired in 1968. A few years later in 1977, Velloo Chelombrom obtained from Émile Sériès, proxyholder of Fernand Leclézio to FUEL, a grant for the renovation of the temple. At the same time that the kovil was founded, the Kalimai of l’Unité was rebuilt and displaced after Hurricane Carol because the tree under which the kalimai was placed had been derailed. Another place was chosen on the lands granted by the company FUEL, where the deities could be protected and installed under the shade of the trees and their roots.

166  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

The symbolic ordering of the divinities integrated into the altar of the temple on the one hand, and of those found in the enclosure but outside the same temple on the other hand, is very symptomatic of the mode of political integration that took place in a pre-independence context. The organisation of the temple space symbolises the characteristic communal separation of the region by the overt control of the goddess Kali, who has become a secondary deity. It is no longer the goddess to whom particular offerings are addressed in ceremonies to ensure the triumph of the forces of good against the forces of evil. She became Shiva’s wife. Each son of Shiva has his own altar while being under his protection. Outside of the kovil, Dhi is not represented and there are only Tamil tutelary deities and an altar of Shiva. ​

FIGURE 6.15 Shiva

represented by the trident other tutelary deities at the entrance of the kovil.

The calamity that fell in the region at the time of the FUEL concentration caused the f lowing of tears of the Tamil woman who prayed Kali, Dhi and Père Laval who are represented in the kalimai of the l’Unité but not in the temple founded at the same time. Her tears were caused by the feeling of inevitable separation of the three Tamil, Hindu and Creole communities once united in kalimai. It took place, in fact, after Gujadhur had sold his shares to Leclezio. Tamils and Hindus then had separate cults. We can conclude from this analysis that when Kali is imported into a Tamil Temple, she becomes secondary, loses its many qualities to limit herself to being only the wife of Shiva in the form of Parvati, one of the seven sisters. But, the Shiva–Parvati couple in this temple is not equivalent to the Shiva–Kali couple. The first symbolically gave birth to Ganesha, the second to Muruga. While the Shiva–Parvati couple, and consequently their son Ganesha, operate in the cosmic order of the internal relations to the deities, the Shiva–Kali couple is known for its connection to cemeteries and, as such, it intervenes directly in the field of the relations related to witchcraft always invoked in the conf licts considered serious. Every foundation of a temple is the product of a real loss which is identified in the ordering of the divinities about which there has been a reversal of the

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  167

relations of the inside and the outside as they were symbolised in the popular cults prior to their foundation. Only a retroactive, symmetrical and inverse reading can recognise the actual relationships involved and the way in which they have recomposed themselves in the temples. The games of mobility and equilibrium that have existed between attractive and repulsive forces around an axis that has not been traced, may be viewed by the way in which the temple of the l’Unité exerts the preferential mediations useful to the establishment of the relationship of the living to the cosmic order without a truly established centrality. As for the outside deities, they were not really identified in our survey but we knew they were Tamils and that is the essential part of what was needed to understand the links that united, locally, north and south Indians. Being symbolically attached to the male deities Shiva and Ganesha in the temple, the dominant relations belonged to the register of scholarly religion. The foundation of the temple transformed local cults by very generally denying the tutelary deities in favour of a “Brahmanisation” of religion. Thus, scholarly religion based on books and a teaching found in India to the detriment of popular religion was built and generalised. Finally, witchcraft was only a way of delaying the moment when the Indo–Mauritian communities of different traditions would lose their specificities by recalling in the ceremonies the rules of belonging that differentiate them. The classification of popular cults proposed at the beginning of this chapter accurately illustrates the variable content of the local social relations whose places of worship were the theatre, because the specific divinities of kalimais like Dhi, Saher, Hanuman, generally protective of Kali, have been instrumentalised in all possible ways: ● ●

to legitimise caste distinctions or to deny them; to highlight class differences or transform them into oppositions of community types or castes; and finally, to mark community differences of racial or ethnic type.

The relations of religion and politics was particularly analysed in connection with the emergence of the private kalimai of a retired education officer,11 located in the garden of his residence. It is one of those for-profit kalimai that provided their founder with a substantial income that far exceeded the retirement pension he received from the Ministry of Social Security.12 The kalimais of Chemin Cimetière, Boutique Joseph and a large planter on his field testify to the transformation of formerly collective places of worship into family kalimai extended to the border of the caste. The first was mentioned as belonging to the families of ti-nation, a Creole term meaning low caste; the second is the fact of the grande nation, a term which means high caste in Creole. These places of worship are uncrowded because the region has experienced such changes in population composition that inter-caste relationships have become commonplace in everyday life and work. They are subjected to

168  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

ongoing negotiations between families, when conf licts cannot be avoided. The third group of public kalimais from Petite Cabanne to Camp de Masque Pavé and Royal Road to Camp de Masque are nowadays the scene of various social events and ritual innovations. In public kalimais, baharias pujas cults are regularly celebrated, at which local associations communicate with national federations such as the Mauritius Sanantan Dharma Temples Federation” (Royal road and Petite Cabanne and the Mauritius Andra Maha Sabha, the temple Sri Rama Mandiram. We attended these baharia puja and Amourou puja cults, which we will discuss in the next part. Finally, many unclassifiable kalimai, usually the oldest kalimais (see Figures 6.12 and 6.13), testify to the current state of social fragmentation by the frequent use of witchcraft practices in these places remote from population centres and are generally feared. No less than four wizarding places were visited at Camp de Masque. They are experienced by people as places considered dangerous. We did not participate in any of these types of worship. Finally, a kalimai is transformed into a temple as soon as the social differentiations are sufficiently advanced to bring about the project of building a temple. The decade 1960–1970 saw the country open to national independence, some ten years after the African countries. It is in this context of the first years of national independence, after Hurricane Carole of 1960, that the kalimai began to gradually turn into temples in all the villages of the district of Moka-Flacq. This transformation is generally considered as one of the signs of the political and economic change that has followed the independence of Mauritius. We recall for this purpose, that the region of Moka-Flacq was a bastion of the movement Independent Forward Bloc (IFB), founded by the Bissoondoyal brothers, one of whom was a recognised philosopher of Hinduism. He adopted the religious form of pilgrimages to raise awareness through the “Jan Andolan,” crowds organising marches, a sort of pilgrimage that brought Hindus from all parts of the island to Port Louis, where he held his speeches/sermons. The many adherents, all communities, of this politicalreligious movement considered Independence as an inevitable development for the country whose economy was out of breath and had an unemployment rate of more than 20%. The second of the Bissoondoyal brothers was a trade unionist, who worked to strengthen the solidarity of dockside workers, unionised transport companies in Port Louis, employees of the Central Electricity Board (CEB) and small employees in the public service including the farmers of regions like Flacq, Rivière du Rempart, where was the largest number of Indian labourers. Thus, from the first years of national independence, we found, side by side, Indians of all linguistics groups and faiths who joined the Independent Forward Bloc (IFB) after Hurricane Carol and the union members of Port Louis who followed the young leftist activist of the years 1968, Paul Berenger. The emergence of the temples coincides with this political mutation which has taken on more of a character of caste/class differentiation than a particular ethnic character. The multiplication of religious

Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité  169

sites is also revealing of the differences that have occurred with the rise of the Hindu community and the newly acquired consciousness of the workers and farmers of their class status. It is now facing the social consequences of the major overhaul of the country’s economy. The place occupied by the sugar economy, compared to other sectors of activity, is seen as a bygone era. The sugar sector has become a branch of other industrial and commercial activities within the country, and this sector is being restructured by extending beyond national borders to the countries of East Africa, West Africa and Madagascar. The big planters of the past have become small planters or even small national entrepreneurs. Smallholders are decreasing in number in favour of the development of urban wage earners more or less detached from the rural world. This situation has developed even more dramatically since 2005, given the 35% drop in the price of sugar on the international market. If the big sugar companies have anticipated this decline by directing their investments abroad for sugar and by diversifying their businesses, the small planters are now in the situation of having to diversify their crops and will not relay anymore on the production of canes. The change of status of the popular cults symbolically ref lects these changes in living and working conditions. Their functions change and closely follow the social and economic changes involved. To caste differences to ethnic distinctions, are added the economic inequalities experienced crucially by those who remained dependent on the sugar economy. While some temples have given a place to the kalimai tutelary deities, such as the new Tamil temple in Mahébourg, others have practically excluded them as the temple of l’Unité.

Notes 1 The concrete fence that we see in the photograph. (Figure 6.1) 2 In the Appendix, the synoptic table presenting the history of Unite/y. Source Mauritius Almanach (MA). 3 Annex no. 7.2, the synoptic table of the history of Çlémencia. Source Mauritius Almanach (MA). 4 We contacted this interviewee at his place of work at FUEL. He held the position of guardian of the l’Unite estate and did not spare his time to introduce us to the region where he lives and works. He knew all the places, even the most hidden ones. We pay homage to his memory by presenting this work done with him. 5 Today, we correct this text, the old offices of FUEL have been deserted, the place is no longer used. It has been cleaned up, because there is nobody any more at this place since the concentration of FUEL on Mon Loisir. The camp l’Unite also soon disappeared like all the camps. The inhabitants were relocated on the land’s fragmentations, which were planned for this purpose by the property. 6 Place of worship of which the informant of the Kalimai of Boutique Joseph had told us, where Brahma has a place in the kalimai enclosure. 7 This Kalika Devi dynasty has the shape of a human face, as opposed to other deities that are represented by stones. 8 While speaking, the priest made invocations in the rear, where Hanuman is, he offered fruits. 9 Table in Annex.

170  Kalimais Boutique Joseph and l’Unité

10 We will deepen this game, whereby minorities can impose their alliance to the majority, by analysing the new ritual Amourou puja studied in the third part. 11 This interviewee has passed away and we pay tribute to his memory. 12 It should be noted that the pensions of civil servants in Mauritius are managed by the Ministry of Social Security.


The general pattern of spatial organisation that has occurred through the sugar history of the founding of villages has been reconstructed by combining archival data systematically gathered about the history of the ownership of the sugar mills incorporated into Flacq United Estates Limited (FUEL), and the qualitative data from the direct approach survey. We have seen that the area of Camp de Masque and Camp de Masque Pavé was the setting for the emergence of a class of large and small planters before independence. Subsequently, wage-earning workers at the FUEL factory rubbed shoulders with the farm labourers or sharecroppers of the big planters. Small traders have developed and some of the natives of these villages have become professionals in the public or private sectors, others have become small industrialists or owners of commercial chains distributed in the other regions of the island and, finally, independence has favoured the emergence of a political class that has since launched into business. At present, all planters – big and small – are confronted directly with the new agro-industrial policy: some must convert and diversify quickly if they want to hold, others must sell their lands at the right time for a profit. Licensees in the sugar industry of the 2000s must, for their part, make the best use of their starting capital to bounce back and find a new salary or commercial activity, while they lose the social protections and some non-salary benefits, they enjoyed largely in the context of sugar companies or as independent planters. The Camp de Masque area, located in the heart of FUEL’s sugar estate, is directly affected by the social transformation begun with National Independence and continued until today. The birth of the Hindu temple at Boutique Joseph and the Tamil Temple at l’Unité marked the beginning of an ethnic separation first, of caste after which they were both the scenario. Let us try to reconstruct the general process by which the foundation of the temples was the best way to bring together those who were separated, randomly through development and sugar re-structuring, to fix the main economic, social and political DOI: 10.4324/9781003298106-8

172  Development in the east

balances that followed the immediate national independence. Today’s globalisation is unfolding in all markets, from employment with lay-offs in sugar companies and textile industries, land with the latest sugar concentrations and investments in neighbouring countries in the Indian Ocean. Since 2000, there has been a real acceleration of the country’s economic transformation, which is not without disrupting many of the advantages acquired since Independence. 2500 2000 1500 1000


1855-56 1868 1871 1874 1877 1878 1879 1880 1881 1882 1883 1886 1888 1890 1892 1898 1900 1902 1904 1907 1913 1916 1918 1920 1922 1924-25 1926-27 1928-29 1931-32



GRAPH 7.1 Mutations

of the grounds of the mill at Beauvallon.

Emergence of temples and social differentiations Emergence of a class of independent small planters: first differentiations The process of forming a temple ref lects the forms of socio-economic integration of the local society that are at the origin of the main differentiations. Tables 7.1 and 7.2 reconstruct the general history of the kalimai foundation of the Clémencia region, Camp de Masque Pavé, Camp de Masque which are part of the electoral constituency number ten district of Moka-Flacq. The historical rationality of the local differentiation can be interpreted by following step by step the stages of the concentration of the four mills of Clémencia, Hermitage, Beauvallon and the Unité which came together in 1865. 1,140 Indian immigrants for 325 women, a proportion of 35% of women compared to men. The total land cultivated on the same date was 2,515 acres The Hermitage mill, the oldest in the region, was founded in 1820 by Hippolyte Lagesse. It was built in Clémencia in 1850 (Rouillard, 1964–1979: 157) and then had 420 labourers. Beauvallon was founded by Arthur Fabre in 1853 and ran until 1893, when the land was broken up and acquired by Indian and Creole smallholders. The mill of l’Unité (Graph 7.1)1 was formed in 1858, under Auguste Dubois who extended the lands of the former property Espoir (1820) bought from

Development in the east  173

Antoine Tancrel who gave it its name. This mill had an area of 900 acres in 1865, employing 450 farmers. It fell to 500 acres when it was sold to Letellier. The cultivated area of this establishment was then 305 acres for 280 farmers. It should be noted that the ownership of this mill belonged to “mulatto” families from 1880. It was more virtual than real, considering the weight of the institutions that mortgaged it for many years and partial fragmentation which allowed to keep control of the production. Then the land was sold to Gujadhur, which extended the area of fragmented land before constructing it around the sugar company FUEL. TABLE 7.1 Area of Camp de Masque mills and village of Camp de Masque Pavé. Number

of Indian immigrants in 1865 1865





Area Old migrants New arrivals Women Total immigrants

1,310 152 168 100 420

900 arpents 280  20 150 450

 300 arpents  190    13    77  280

2,515 arpents  622  201  327 1,150

Source: Mauritius Almanach.

Around the activity of the mills developed an Indian society of Hindu religion based on the ideology of karma action, where the merits expected in the hereafter are commensurate with the actions undertaken during the lifetime of the subject. This moral principle had the virtue of creating a duty of reciprocity between people, an ideal all the easier to share, since the living and working conditions were very harsh and essentially the same. Solidarity at this margoze time was natural and necessary for survival. It is reasonable to say that the pioneers of Indian immigration, the “old migrants”2 living in the camps, have forged a society based on the relationship of affinity and cooperation they developed on the spot. The myth of the seven sisters, reported by our interviewees in Clémencia, was very edifying and significant of these first relationships of in differentiation which later led to relations of kinship structured by rules of alliances. It has been made clear to us that the seven women, called sisters, in the worship of this kalimai were from different regions of origin in India, strangers to each other. They would have become at one time the tutelary deities of the camp. The indifferentiation of the initial Indian society was instituted by reference to this myth and the worship of Kali was celebrated in this place of installation of the first immigrants to Clémencia Hermitage. It has been transformed into a symbolic space for the regulation of alliances that took place in the second and third generations. The emergence of the myth of the seven sisters is the most obvious sign of the production of federated social units around contracted unions, first on the basis of relationships of affinity and cooperation, and then on the basis of a retroactive justification of the preferential alliances that have shaped families into endogamous groups, more or less closed to each other.

174  Development in the east

The caste system, far from being a differentiation of origin of migrants from India, would have been born, on the spot, from the daily life and work in the camps, where formed circles of strict endogamy of the families who practised these types of alliances. The unequal demographic ratio of women (35%) to men meant that unions were based more on geographical proximity than on preference. In the early days of Indian immigration, statutory differences were not yet established. They were born of preferential alliances established over generations. In this universe of one to multiple, the family unit has found its strength of realisation in the formatting of the differences represented by the seven forms of Kali which represent so many differentiations built on the practices of endogamy during the three upward generations than on those built around the hard core of the first immigrants through which the practices of endogamy in the camps became widespread. If we take the example of the Kalimai of Petit Verger (see Figure 7.1), its original structure brought together the seven sisters of kalimai, a term that takes up the initials of the seven divinities installed on the altar. Thus, K = Kali, A = Ambe, L = Laxmi, I = Indu, M = Mata and I = Ishvari. In addition to these seven deities, to the right of the altar were the tutelary deities, Arundhati, Purmessi, Dhi, Kansar, Gowraya and Saher, to whom various offerings were sacrificed; tokens of the existing social division of labour within the community of residence. For example, to Purmessi pigs are offered, Dhi is offered rum, cigarettes and sardines, Gowraya and Saher receive chickens and Kansar receives pigeons. When the camp turned into a village, the kalimai took the name Clémencia from the village and two new deities, the superior Mahabir Swami, and Hanuman and Brahma were also placed to the left of the altar of the seven sisters. This new kalimai structure featured the distinction that occurred in the second and third generations of immigrants during which high and low castes gradually separated. ​ Mutaon of land of the mills of Clemencia

1600 1400 1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0

1855-1875 1400

1876-1882 700









1892-1899 3.5

1900-1930 4.5








GRAPH 7.2 Mutation


500 1000

of land of the mills of Clémencia.


Development in the east  175

Clémencia, after the demolition of the mill in 1885, after the takeover of land by The Mauritius Estates and Assets from 1890 to 1910, became the framework for the forging of economic inequalities and caste, which were objectified in 1924, when the property was definitively parcelled. At that time, the places of worship were segmented and were spread over the lands of properties newly acquired by the Indian labourers. The table of the ethnic and caste distribution of the Indians, who acquired the lands of ownership at the time of the fragmentations in 1914, highlights the dominance of the high castes Marazs, Baboojees and Vaishs – who made up 66 of the new owners – compared to the low castes Raviveds and Rajputs – who made up only 16 out of a total of 102 new owners. The lower castes Ravived and Rajputs had, respectively, only two portions of land in 1937, respectively, compared to the Vaishs (ten) and the Baboojees/Marazs who each obtained four. This enumeration is not exhaustive, but it is sufficient to appreciate the existence of a strong correlation between castes and economics differences, one reinforcing the other. Thus, the Baboojees/Marazs formed a powerful network of extended families in the north of the island and were at the forefront of independence at the time of independence through the Labour Party (PTR). TABLE 7.2 Breakdown by caste and ethnicity of the Indian owners of Beauvallon and

L’Unité fragmentations made by Rajcoomar Gujadhur (see Annexures 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3) Year of Marazs Baboojees Vaishs Raviveds Rajputs Muslims Telugus Marathis Tamils Total parcelling 1893 1914 1937 Total

6 22 4 32

6 11 4 21

30 33 10 73

8 7 2 17

11 9 2 22

9 14 4 27

2 5 1 8



1 1 1 3

73 102 28 203

Source: Mauritius Almanach.

This perceptible social and economic evolution in the Flacq region has generated a segmentation of places of worship characterised by ritual specialisations, both indicative and products of statutory distinctions of an obvious economic character found in the preferential choice of mixed marriages from low castes towards high castes, while high castes sought to prohibit these unions. These intercultural alliance ties, which have developed in some families in the area, have made it difficult to separate the small plantation from the large plantation. The small planters, sharecroppers or employees of the big planters, gained access to small property through inheritance and internal indebtedness to families, in relation to purchases of land open to fragmentation by the sugar company. The economic emergence of low castes took place a few decades after that of the big planters, on the occasion of the trade union and cooperative movements that developed in the 1930s after the founding of the PTR, and at the time of the

176  Development in the east

sugar concentration, which gave birth to large companies like FUEL, Constance and Beauchamps in the district of Moka-Flacq.

Re-foundation of religious sites: new social segmentations It is not surprising, then, that the kalimai of the village of Clémencia was the scene of the inter-caste tensions that manifested themselves during this social and economic evolution that preceded independence. New kalimais have been founded ever since. The first is a private kalimai described in the first part which deals with conf licts of all kinds and attracts a large clientele of all ethnicities and castes combined, a clientele that has not found its integration into the symbolic logic of kalimai of the village of Clémencia. Another Kalimai is the witness of the segmentation process that has recently taken place in the region. It is now controlled by only one extended family group, most of them are located in the city. These two new kalimais are allied with each other and show their autonomy with regard to the village where the big planters and their parents and allies, sharecroppers or wage earners, organised themselves in association to found a new temple on the place of the original Kalimai of Clémencia Hermitage. The kalimai, thus, transformed into a temple is now finished and located at the foot of the Montagne Blanche where the large plantation lands are located, belonging to owners who are absent from the region, some of whom have or have had ministerial responsibilities. ​

FIGURE 7.1 The

Petit Verger Kalimai of Clémencia.

This renovation is very special, because in our investigation we did not see other temples built like this one in a place as far off the main road and the village. This peculiarity confers on this temple a symbolic function as a vector of the newly established urban–rural relations. We noted at the beginning of this chapter the potentially conf lictual mutuality relationships by arrows in red and green. This situation of tension between families of different statuses affects directly the election results, because we know that any absentee owner still favours his

Development in the east  177

home group in the choice of his tenants residing on site. It is said in common parlance and in the Creole language, that chaque zaco protège so montagne: “every monkey protects its mountain.” The desired balance is in the area of relationships that bind together groups of the same extended family to as many people as possible who share the same alliances. This equilibrium is still unstable in the family social groups, where alliances with communities of different Indian origin and between high and low castes have been formed. The other kalimais of the region, located in Beauvallon and l’Unité, experienced the same history of fragmentation, step by step, according to the periods of fragmentation that faced the mills properties from 1893 to 1937, when Gujadhur formed FUEL and divided the lands. Social segmentation continues today in a new context of social and territorial restructuration with the emergence of new settlements around the dedicated areas for social housing, for the installation of former sugar workers dismissed for economic reasons or to replace the old camps where there are still labourers families who have not achieved economic growth to live elsewhere.

Kalimai mills and temples: appearance of economic differences The explanations given by our interviewees – who described the symbolic changes made in the space of the villages – lead to the evidence that not only do the different kalimais studied draw the lines of force of the family networks by which the first differentiations occurred but they say even more about how society changes by organising itself around certain relationships deemed essential. We can already say that when the sugar establishment ceased to support the cults financially and when it no longer gave portions of land for the foundation of the temples and kalimais, it was usually the large families of planters who took over to provide temporary labour for the exploitation of their fields. Their status as notables is well known in the constituencies numbers nine and ten (Flacq-Bon Accueil and Montagne Blanche/Bel Air respectively). Some of these families experienced a political emergence according/ to the Baboojee/Maraz caste preference of the first Prime Minister Seewoosagar Ramgoolam government which marked the structuring of the region. Camp du Masque and Camp du Masque Pavé, where the first mills closed, releasing very early land for sale after fragmentation. Let us summarise this little history of cults and villages with regard to the current social differentiations that we have tried to schematise above. The Kalimai of Royal Road was founded at the time of the formation of the village of Camp de Masque around 1894, date of the first division. This village had 6820 inhabitants 3 in 2000. The inhabitants who settled there worked on the lands of l’Unité estate and were organised in band of workers more or less linked by relations of kinship and alliance. At each division, a new kalimai was erected by the social group founder of a system of preferential alliance. He was often one of the Sirdars of estate, thus, imposing his alliances and preferences on less unified groups. This is how the Sirdar Radhe was the informal founder of Kalimai of the Petite Cabanne, which is the product of

178  Development in the east

a chain segmentation of the Kalimai of Royal Road, then Chemin Cemetière and Boutique Joseph. This separation of kalimais from the old Beauvallon estate is indicative of the general process of differentiation into caste and economic disparity. The two kalimais of Chemin Cemetière and Boutique Joseph are the product of a separation between high-caste Baboojees and low-caste Raviveds, the first associated with Boutique Joseph, the second attached to Chemin Cemetière. From Boutique Joseph Kalimai emerged the urban elite of the times that prepared Independence. Some branches of families have left to live in the towns of Plaines Wilhems and kalimai has now become partially private since only a small fraction of the parents from the region remain. The Kalimai of Chemin Cemetière has undergone a completely different evolution as it has been the scene of labour disputes and alliances between families. The final structure of the kalimai highlights the existence of a symbolic space, devoted to witchcraft practices, which have been frequent, manifesting the social and working conf licts between the residents. This kalimai brings together low-caste families, which segmented themselves around the 1960s, differentiating into two distinct groups, the Raviveds on the one hand and the Rajputs on the other, which groups are part of the lower castes. This separation of low caste along economic differences took place at the time of the rise of the Labour Party PTR which obtained the majority of the elections at the time of the Independence in 1967. Those who will become the Rajputs were proud of their membership to low castes because they had already acquired an emerging social position, among them families of great planters, whose third generation formed a class of intellectuals who actively supported the Labour Party. Among these families we will mention G. at Flacq, G. at Savanne, M. at Beau Bassin and B. at Triolet. Those who were the Raviveds were among the small planters and had only minor functions in the administration at the time of Independence. The professional and political differences mingled with the first economic social distinctions established between the families of planters. The high castes of these regions, for their part, separated definitively from the low castes around 1930. As for the low castes, they separated themselves around 1965 due to the rise of the PTR. Today the Raviveds are experiencing a relative emergence relying on MMM. They in turn assert their own caste position. The opposition Raviveds/Rajputs at Chemin Cemetière resulted in the abandonment by the Raviveds Chemin Cemetière, which they left to the Rajputs, and an attachment to the kalimai of Petite Cabanne, which was founded by a Baboojee sirdar, where the Vaishs also came to pray. This kalimai has become the privileged place of Vaihs/Raviveds and Baboojees intercultural weddings. Although it did not have an association like Royal Road, the residents who frequent it made enough donations for it to be transformed into a temple in the year 2000. The political cultural project of the manager–founder of Royal Road, who has allied with the Telugus, has not been able to achieve the concrete realisation of the temple he, because he has built too many political alliances of the national parties and ended up relegated in the opposition in 1995. Conversely,

Development in the east  179

the followers of Petite Cabanne produced their marginal autonomy with regard to party politics by regrouping their forces for the renovation of kalimai, which has become almost a temple. The relations of the Chemin Cemetière Kalimai developed from the local to the global as opposed to Royal Road, which relied on a more central but more distant power detached from existing local social relationships. The last Kalimai of Boutique Joseph of the former property Beauvallon is, meanwhile, the passive witness of all these caste and economic mixed conf licts, leading to an internal political divide, which makes the region very sensitive to the changes of alliances between national parties. Boutique Joseph reveals the disruption forces that are currently leading to an individualisation of the relationships that characterise the urban world in the process of formation. The cult of Mahadev Baba at the FUEL establishment, located not far from Boutique Joseph, in front of the new Shivala Hindu temple built at Camp de Masque in 1990, reveals this new function of the kalimais in their capacity to serve the new relations of the countryside with an urban world more detached from the systems of alliances, which determine the belonging to castes and make it difficult to cross the symbolic border established in the popular cults. Private kalimais, more or less abandoned or under the control of a single extended family, are likely – for example with the cult of Mahadev Baba – to be re-appropriated to serve the cause of the relationships of the families still residents with those of the families who are installed in the city. Unlike the kalimais of the old Beauvallon property, the kalimais of the Unité remained more closely linked to sugar development and they suffered the full impact of the concentrations and industrial diversification undertaken. They have also preserved the archaic of the initial relations on which they were founded, while revealing the increasing individualisation of the labourers, who have not been able to emancipate themselves from the work on the sugar plantations. It can be seen that the renovation of the Unité and the village attached to it has the same limited character, which is due to difficult living conditions. This class of labourers still exists today and shares the same working exploitation as the so-called “Creole” populations of the coastal villages that were too exclusively attached to the fishing activity. There is evidence of kalimai Creolisation, marked by the syncretism of cultural practices detached from signs of ethnic or economic belonging. All the residents attached to this kalimai have the same condition of agricultural labourers without great possibility of accumulation, neither by the interplay of the social and family networks, nor by playing the game of the differentiation of the wage activities, not even that of engaging in the growing of food crop to be sold directly on the local market. Finally, this part of the unit where the FUEL heritage lands are located has passed seamlessly from the founding period of the first Kalimai to the one where the Brahma deity was incorporated into the Gujadhur initiative, and finally to that of the construction of a kovil in 1979 by the Tamil Temples Federation inaugurated by the Director of the Establishment FUEL, Emile Sériès. We can more than ever anticipate that, unlike Clémencia and Beauvallon, the Kalimai of Unité will never be able to

180  Development in the east

become a temple. Would the multiplication and transformation of popular cults into temples not be a sign of a more general political and economic transformation in which community and caste distinctions would imperceptibly transform into class differences?

The emergence of an entrepreneurial elite in the Moka/Flacq district If the origin of caste differences is a social fact that has developed from below through rooting in the places of settlement of the first mills, we must also consider the consolidation of an Indian entrepreneurial elite by the role it has assumed in the development of cooperative and union movements that took shape from the 1930s, before the concentration of post-war sugar companies. There was a link between big capital and the multiple cooperative relationships that were played out in the context of the plantation. This special relationship, linking capital to labour, can be measured by the success of certain large planters in the Flacq region, among whom are the Reetoo, Gujadhur, Bissessur, Balgobin, Khadaroo, Teeluck, Roy and Powakel families. Several factors have contributed to the economic success of these families. Although their modes of accumulation are not always comparable, they had in common the perfect understanding and mastery of how the social bond of indebtedness, which was instituted through the cults, could be useful to the formation groups with differentiated interests, referring to the same ideal of moral progression sought in the course of life, one approaches or departs according to according to one’s actions (Dharma). The Reetoo family, born in the village of Saint Julien d’Hotman, located not far from the Unité, is the most eloquent example of this complex reality of a development of the domestic economy mainly articulated with the sugar economy, and that has not been totally dependent on it. This family built its economic success, after having raised from the position of labourers to that of breeders in charge of the draft horses of the estates where they were employed under contract. They later became operators of a Beau Bois forest property in Flacq, to meet the needs of the sugar economy for timber from which they drew their primitive accumulation, transformed quickly into land investments. According to the sources of the Mauritius Almanach from 1855 to 1941, the Reetoo were among the six big families of Indians who acquired large sugar estates in Flacq. In 1910, they acquired the Desfontaines property located in Moka, which they aggregated to Saint Julien in 1915. They doubled an area of 700 acres, and resold it in 1929 with an area of 600 acres. Similar is the Gujadhur family of Flacq, known as importers of the horses of India and owners of Schoenfeld at Rivière du Rempart from 1910, and Allée Brillant at Plaine Wilhems from 1915. The Gujadhur bought Great Retreat, and sold it in 1917 to two large planters – Tamoul and Muslim (Coomerasamy and Issack). This same family then took possession of the Unité, which it retained until 1929, a

Development in the east  181

date after which the company Union Flacq Sugar Estate Company Ltd will be founded. Much later, around 1930, two other families ran the risk of buying large estates: the Teeluck and Powakel families who will own Beaubois and Grande Retraite, respectively, of 350 acres, and Little Victoria of 125 acres. In 1926, the Reetoo family, unlike Gujadhur, lost its sugar estate. Its success and bankruptcy are very revealing of the conditions that prevailed for the development of a class of large Vaish Indian planters, from the beginning of the sugar industrialisation to the world crisis of 1930.

Competition amongst major Hindu planters The Reetoo family is distinguished from the Gujadhur family by the fact that it achieved emergence from below, exploiting both the social capital it possessed, the close relations and alliance that it had established with other families and “know-how,” corresponding to the economic needs of the sugar establishment, of which they were the employees at the beginning. On the other hand, the Gujadhur family is the perfect example of a top-down integration, both political and financial, by which they have been able to rank top within the colonial “establishment.” In addition to this difference in position within the sugar economy and the colonial administration, the opposition of the Reetoo and the Gujadhur in the Flacq region has manifested itself socially and economically. While Reetoo encouraged the rise of Vaish groups, Gujadhur relied on the Baboojees and Marazs for the development of its undertakings. On the political front, both Reetoo and Gujadhur were similarly protected by white sugar owners and they enjoyed their trust. However, they were opposed to each other in the general elections of 1926, the first having supported the candidacy of Pierre Montocchio, favourable to a return to France (retrocessionist movement), the second associate to Henri Leclézio, who was a supporter of the status quo and favourable to the British administration (anti-retrocessionist movement). Burun4 analyses the bankruptcy of the Reetoo in exclusively political terms, pointing out that the two candidates in the elections would have been separated by Indian majority votes, which went to the candidate Gujadhur, to the detriment of a white man, Montocchio. This situation was surprising for the morals of the time, but Reetoo had chosen to carry the votes of the Indians he believed to be the spokesperson on the candidate Montocchio,5 because of his financial dependence on his white creditors. This explanation of the Reetoo bankruptcy, mixing political and economic reasons, is insufficient. It must be supplemented by an analysis of the contents of the production relations built by this great planter with Indian smallholders under the competitive environment of the time.

Small and large Indian planters: an internal solidarity The general conditions of local sugar development have plunged in the bankruptcy in the light of many white landowners, who have lost their sugar heritage

182  Development in the east

or turned it into financial capital within large companies in the process of concentration. In this respect, the bankruptcy of Reetoo was comparable to that of Whites, who did not have sufficient financial capital to meet the expenses of their labourers. In contrast, Gujadhur was close to financial and colonial institutions and had financial capital to invest. The uneven development of these two great Indian planters of the 1920s came from the fact that financial institutions more than local private capital had a decisive inf luence on sugar development. This is what can be seen about the history of the three mills Hermitage, Clémencia and Beauvallon which were united at the Unité in 1939 by the operators of the structuring of FUEL, Leclézio, Gujadhur and the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB). The successive takeover the regional mills by the land and financial institutions (in blue on the schemes of mutation of the lands of the mills) began in 1880 by The Agricultural Company of Mauritius, which managed the domain of the Unité. It continued in 1890 with The Mauritius Estates & Assets Co Ltd, which became owner of Clémencia until the division of 1924, which occurs two years before Gujadhur bought the establishment and founded his own company in Flacq. In view of this, the land accumulation of planters like the Reetoo takes place in light of the fragmentations of 1893, 1914, 1924 and 1937, which we studied from the notarial deeds of the mills, where were listed the names of the Indian labourers become owners (Tables 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3). We considered only the period that followed the sugar boom from which the great fragmentation began from 1875 and continued throughout the 20th century (Allen, 2002). During this period, the sugar development was conducive to the formation of a class of big Indian planters who were already working as brokers with the labourers. They were called “middle men,” these brokers had close relations with notaries, Montocchio being considered the notary of the Indians in Flacq. These had relations with the estate settlers and some of them, like the Ramburun family, became contractors. We did not find the notarial deed, which gives details of the acquisition of the lands by the Indian small planters, at the time when Gujadhur divides the Unité in 1924. But we have been able to list the names of the Indian landowners who have acquired lands from the Beauvallon Estate and the Unité. The old mill of Beauvallon was managed by the Crédit Foncier from 1913 to 1930 and had three successive fragmentations: from 1893 to 1898, from 1914 to 1924 and in 1937. These different periods of fragmentation led to the final concentration of the FUEL company. It has generated the formation of a class of Indian small planters within which has widened the gap between a small and a large property. This distinction emerged from the years 1910–1915, when the two families of the most important planters of the region – the Reetoo and the Gujadhur – acquired their respective lands. ​

Development in the east  183 TABLE 7.3 Average area and standard deviation of the properties acquired by the

Indians of the region of Clémencia, l’Unité and Camp de Masque Year of fragmentation

Fragmented area

Number of planters

1893 1914

70 acres 78 10 perches 275.64 acres 114


22.57 acres


Average area

Standard deviation

1 acre

21/2 to 25 perches = 2.25 acres 24 A to 50 perches = 23.50 acres 60 A to 3 perches =  59.97 acres

3.4 acres 4.08 perches

According to the figures recorded in the notarial deeds, in 1893 the average size of the properties acquired by the Indians of the district of Flacq is only two acres and a half. Since the sale of the mill Clémencia (1,310 acres) by the owners, Tamils Mooniasawmy and Arlanda in 1868, there had been only small planters at that time. The process of differentiation between small and large planters has continued for half a century, and we have seen the average acreage acquired by the Indians increase considerably thanks to the fragmentation of the mills of Camp de Masque and Clémencia: the average area of properties acquired in 1914 triples to 3.4 acres. It will increase again by one acre and will increase to about four acres. This continuous movement of concentration of the Indian property has resulted in the widening of the gap between small and large planters: from a 2.25 acres difference between the largest and the smallest in 1893, it increases to more than 21 acres to reach nearly 60 acres in 1937. On the eve of the Second World War, the process of differentiation between large and small planters was almost completed. The comparative listings of 1893, 1914 and 1937 show that a number of families, who acquired land in 1893 and 1914, will buy some in 1937.6 Finally, the emergence of Reetoo as a land owner is in the interwar period log of the sugar system.

The double financial and land pressure After the Second World War, agricultural entrepreneurship was no longer enough to stay in the local “establishment.” It needed to be accompanied by a commercial, financial emergence, a path that has been opened through the process of independence and access to the highest civil service of members of the most powerful family networks. In the region, it was the Baboojees/Marazs and Vaishs who acquired this emerging position like the two main entrepreneurs in the region: the Reetoo (Vaish) and the Gujadhur (Baboojees). It can be

184  Development in the east

considered that the class of Hindu small planters was born, not from the individual accumulation of financial means, because the lands offered for purchase by the fragmentations were not all registered as a proof of the legally acquired right, as long as the debt was not discharged. This debt could be the product of pooling small sums of money owned by families who shared the same kalimai. This is why the development of the small plantation cannot be analysed independently of internal relations to the families who lived in the camps. This little local story cannot be reconstructed just by studying a single village monograph, as land speculation has played out, both in the field of the indebtedness of planters, and on that of the deed of ownership, rarely delivered at the time of purchase. Thus, many heirs have not been able to guarantee their acquisition rights over the generations: by absence of notarial deeds specifying the terms of the sale, or by the absence of wills legitimising the properties acquired by route of succession. The small plantation has most often been acquired without guarantee and informally from a large planter, such as Gujadhur, when he divides Beauvallon and the Unité. In addition, the large plantation was also dependent on indebtedness with banks or notaries, so that the one who could not repay a debt due was led into bankruptcy. Many people lost their entire holding, which was generally pledged when the awarded loan expired. Debt was often incurred at the time of purchase of land and for the advances required to organise the harvest. This mortgage of the entire property, in case of non-repayment of a loan, helped to precipitate in the bankruptcy a very large number of Hindu planters, Creoles and whites. This was the case of the Reetoo who mortgaged their farm and lost their property for a debt, (some 100,000 Rs. has been specified by a descendant of Reetoo), given the productive capacity of the farm. It was enough to defer repayment until after the next harvest to rebalance the finances of the family company, which the creditor refused. Our interviewee said that since the election results, their grandfather was no longer on good terms with his white protectors. The sanction for choosing the bad political party by the family, which ended up in the opposition, quickly moved on the economic ground, financial in particular, so that no additional postponement was granted to them to stagger their debt maturities on the upcoming harvest. From one indebtedness to another, that of the small planters with regard to private economic actors that of the big planters towards the banks, there could be a chain reaction as domino effect: the bankruptcy of some leading to that of the others. On the other hand, Le malheur des uns peut faire le Bonheur des autres.

An ideology of development based on the Dharma’s educational values: social networks In addition to these mixed financial and political counter-dependencies, Dabeedeen Reetoo’s economic situation was also unsuited to the competitive environment of the time. As a true believer in the Hindu religion, he had a social and collective idea of making a profit from the holding. He implemented a series

Development in the east  185

of interrelated social relationships – work, family alliance, and circular debt – so that the necessarily individual content of the monetary accumulation always resulted in a participation of the worker’s community welfare. This practice of restitution of the share of profit linked to the economic success by the donation strengthened the monetary dependence that any planter lived at that time. Finally, the real failure of the Reetoo lies at the ideological level of at least in part of by donations. Several kalimais were founded for the workers, which ensured the fame of the family by the social work carried out at Saint Julien d’Hotman. In this occurrence, Dabeedeen Reetoo run counter current model of economic equilibrium which would have reserved his estates as a big planter. For this, he should have to anticipate the concentration movements that accelerated in the wake of the global financial crisis of the 1930s, and demonstrated an active willingness to participate directly. By choosing to focus their actions on religion, education and health, the Reetoo have asserted themselves as local notables, recognised as such, and not as capitalist driven by desire of an individual and selective accumulation subject to competition given the weak price of sugar on the international market at a time when it was not yet protected. And, one wonders if the philanthropy of Reetoo, described by Burun (weekend: 20 August 1995) was not an obstacle to the development of his private enterprise that would have required that all the financial efforts be concentrated on the investments to be made, with a view to extending or modernising the estate holding. We therefore do not fully subscribe to Burun’s analysis, in his explanation of the economic bankruptcy of Dabeedeen Reetoo, as a direct consequence of the political setback of the 1926 elections. The concept of D. Reetoo’s development was, in a way, too social to satisfy the economic conditions of the “wild capitalism” of the time, affecting many sugar manufactories throughout the world, including the Mauritian white sugar manufactories. Buildings constructed and financed by the family are still evidence of this policy of donation and counter-donation.7 There is the Tamil Temple Siva Soopramanian Tamil Temple Society at Saint Julien d’Hotman and the Hindu Temple Jhaakandinath Mandir at Lallmatie (see Figure 7.6) where the family owned a lot of land, which was sold at the time of bankruptcy. A marble slab, engraved in the name of the donor Dabeedeen Reetoo, was sealed on the ground at the entrance of the temple. The bankruptcy of Reetoo was a double bankruptcy, social on the one hand and economic on the other hand. The social consequence of this bankruptcy is ambiguous insofar as it has brought forward a class of independent planters who have bought the lands of the property offered for sale. Once more, le malheur des uns fait le Bonheur des autres. Set in the general context of the time, the economic status of the Reetoo was based on a family social system built in 1930, which distinguished them definitively from the mass of workers. The genealogy reconstructed by Burun shows that almost the entire family is Vaish–Sanatanist. Many of this family’s allies – ten out of 40 – are known to be part of the big planters of different parts of the island such as Ganesh, Gopee (Curepipe), Bissessur (Camp de Masque) Madhoo,

186  Development in the east

Salick, Bundhoo, Seebun (Camp Thorel), Prayag (Rivière du Rempart), Roy (Moka), Ramkhelawon, Ujodha (Laventure). In addition to this preference of caste/class in the choice of alliances, we note the existence of endogamous unions between the paternal families. It can, thus, be understood that the seemingly political failure of the family was only a manifestation of a social process of class separation of the big planters towards the small planters who contributed, by their work, to the development of the power of the Vaish caste, a result of Reetoo alliance strategies. But this expansion of an entrepreneurial caste elite was on the way to closure and completion in 1930, which tends to show the outcome of the 1926 elections, when other groups, the Baboojees/Marazs high castes of the region also large planters in the same constituency number nine of Flacq/Bon Accueil voted for Leclézio rather than Montocchio on the advice of Gujadhur. At that time, Gujadhur offered greater possibilities of access to land by the various land fragmentations he was carrying when he took control of l’Unité.

Vaishs/Baboojees rivalry in the region The humorous side of the history emerged in the 1987 election, which brought Ramesh Jeewoolall, a brother-in-law of the Reetoo family to the position of Minister of Housing under the PTR banner, who was appointed as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in 1995 when he returned to power. This return to the sources of a lost glory, since it leads a member of the Reetoo family to high political positions and this reminder would not be interesting, if we left it there. What is revealing about the functioning of the Indo-Mauritian society is the way in which the Vaish caste regains its place in the political field of the MSM and PTR parties, in a context where they can no longer win a single election in constituencies numbers eight, nine and ten without placing a Vaish candidate generally associated with a low caste Ravived, given their differential demographic weight in these areas. However, since the bankruptcy of the Reetoo, despite Independence, the land and demographic weight of the Vaish has weakened considerably. It should be recalled that Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam, although himself Vaish, practised a caste policy in favour of Baboojees/Marazs and low Ravived castes, whose number was particularly important in the region of MokaFlacq. The rise of the Vaish was made only from the fair founding of the Vaish Mukti Sangh movement in 1980, by a relative of the Reetoo, a fair historical revenge. This new association created the conditions for a comeback into politics policies of the Reetoo family and the Vaish group, both ignored when the PTR was in power since Independence until 1982. The traditional Vaish candidate for the MSM party, is Jagdish Goburdhun (constituency number ten), who has been regularly elected since the founding of the MSM and Ramesh Jeewolall for the PTR party in the constituency number right. This political versatility of the Vaish group that arranges to always have a place since 1980, no matter which the national parties and their alliances, the class character taken by the distinction of the Vaishs Ahirs with the Vaishs Koyrees in the region of Moka-Flacq.

Development in the east  187

The economic situation of the Ahirs and Koyree’s division comes from the differentiated land history of families and heritages. The Ahirs stayed in the plantation. They acquired diplomas, so that the descendants are today rather professionals, occupying positions of senior executives in the central administrations like the functions of directors of the telecoms, of Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the woman, of the Ministry of Social Security and the Ministry of Public Transport. The Koyrees have left the plantation since Independence. They sold their land, to invest their assets in the trade, like the acquisition of a chain of cinemas, hardware stores, supermarkets and art/craft trades. They also founded a biscuit and textile industry in the area of the free zone at QuatreBornes and Triolet. The Ahirs’ access to leadership positions comes from Aneerood Jugnauth’s preferential support for the Ahirs, while Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam, although originally Koyree, supported the Baboojees/Marazs rather than representatives from his own social background. By comparison, we can analyse in the same way the situation of Gujadhur vis-à-vis the Indian planters at the time of the elections of 1926. We note that the same process of integration of the high Hindu castes took the same way of the class differentiation through the rise of Baboojees and Marazs.8 Like Reetoo, Gujadhur had an intimate knowledge of the Indian world, but he had a first-rate asset because he belonged to the “sugar establishment.” He knew, at the same time, that he could not obtain from his sharecroppers and wage-earners an effort of production without, in return, having a margin of autonomy and liberty, which he granted them with the fragmentation of part of the lands acquired from l’Unité. He will grant wide credit facilities. Some lands will be distributed without initial financial input. The new owners of land, mostly Baboojees and Marazs small planters and not yet big planters, will be originally in an indebtedness relationship. A dependant relationship was thus durably established with the planters, whose chronic indebtedness towards the creditor was based on a whole chain of personal dependencies instituted on the place of the popular cults. The deity Brahma installed near the chimney of l’Unité, a gift from Gujadhur to the planters of the estate, is the sign of this integration of the capital and the labour on the place of the sugar establishment. What was said to us – “How can we not succeed when we own the Union and Unité?”9 – was all the more important since our study of the multiplication of popular cults and the foundation of temples led us to interpret the dominant relations and the reversals of local alliances at the time of the elections. The differences of the Baboojees/Marazs and Vaishs became a class difference in Region Ten, which was the scene of the differential strategies of the two big planters Reetoo and Gujadhur, politically opposed, so that the big plantation became synonymous with high caste and the small plantation was identified with Vaish groups, who very early on began their economic rise, going in both directions of the senior civil service on the one hand, and trade and industry on the other. The Vaishs, who remained in the villages became small planters, were closer to the big planters of that period, if one believes the acreage of the land of

188  Development in the east

certain families of the villages like Lallmatie (Ramhota), Saint Julien d’Hotman (Reetoo) Saint Julien’s village and Welcome (Teeluck), and finally Laventure (Ramparsad), while villages such as Belle Rive today called Kewal Nagar (Ramgoolam families) or La Lucie, Castel and Moka (Roy families) favoured the rise of the high castes of the region. The Vaishs/high castes distinction is a class affair as much as a caste affair. The same phenomenon has been found in other parts of the island where the same relationship between class/caste divisions has occurred, as in the constituency number five (Triolet/Pamplemousses),”10 which will be discussed later.

Multiplication of sites of worship and social segmentations We now know that any re-foundation, renovation of popular cults or the development of temples are precise indicators of the more general transformation at work in the villages of the constituency Moka/Flacq. There is today a segmentation occurring within large social, family and community or caste units. How do these divisions manifest themselves? Let’s continue our description of the village transformations and the coverage of religious sites concerning them. With the exception of Saint Julien’s village which has three temples – Tamil, Hindu and Telugu – all other villages have two or three temples, Hindu and Tamil or and Tamil. The villages of Saint Julien d’Hotman, Lallmatie, Bon Accueil and Camp de Masque have only Hindu and Tamil temples, while La Lucie has only two types of Tamil and Telugu temples. ​









1 1




Bon Acceuil








Camp de Masque


St. Julien Village


St. Julien d'Hotman


La Lucie



GRAPH 7.3 Distribution

of temples and kalimais in the constituency Moka-Flacq.

Saint Julien d’Hotman has two Tamil temples founded by families of high and low castes. At Lallmatie it is the Hindus who founded two different temples,

Development in the east  189

the first for the high castes, and the second for the lower castes. All villages have many kalimais, with the highest score being acquired by the village of Camp de Masque, indicating the existence of greater social fragmentation where family divisions are most numerous. These places of worship are distributed along the valley, which runs along the Montagne Blanche and Montagne Faience from Flacq to Bel Air, where the oldest mills were closed very early, such as Clémencia, Hermitage and Beauvallon from which was emerged the first generation of planters of the village of Camp de Masque Pavé, once the camps were deserted. We will not present photographs of the kalimais of the FUEL l’Unité on the left-hand side towards the national road, from Quartier Militaire to Flacq. The foundation of the Tamil Temple of l’Unité has already been explained from a social, political and economic point of view. We will present, here only, the villages of Saint Julien d'Hotman, Lallmatie, Bon Accueil and Saint Julien Village, the same constituencies numbers eight, nine and ten, located on the territory of the factory area11 of the FUEL society. We visited and photographed all the places of worship, including those of La Lucie Roy at constituency number ten because this family of large planters played the same role of economic and social integration as the Reetoo in the 1980s, and they are still farming today. The places of worship are presented according to the social and economic structure of these different villages. Thus, the main lines of the political and economic integration of the different groups of origin are drawn according to their demographic distribution – Hindus, Tamils, Telugus – their respective social and economic position and splits, as they are objectified in the relationships of the associations, which are at the origin of the establishment of the places of worship and which manage them: we pass insensibly from family to caste without breaking the bonds of relatedness. That is why caste is best synthetised by an image evocative of a network that has been constructed from multiple social polarities: la caste, c’est la lianne rightly explained by many interviewees. Let us brief ly describe the social and religious organisation of the villages where we made our surveys. We will emphasise the social and economic differences of the village of Lallmatie, which highlights especially the general process of individualisation existing within this village, where formerly the large and the small plantation relied on one another. Today this is no longer the case. All these villages are experiencing renovations of popular cults and a proliferation of temples. These changes, in the symbolic spatial organisation of cults, refer to ceremonial practices that reveal the main contradictions. First, let us situate the formal symbolic changes to draw the general context in which the observed ceremonial practices that we will present in the next chapter make sense.

Camp de Masque: A village of small planters and sharecroppers Eight kalimais and one small Hindu temple appear under the auspices of the Aryasamaj centre. This multiplicity of places of worship suggests that the village

190  Development in the east

of Camp de Masque, which has a population of just over 2,000 inhabitants, mostly smallholders and sharecroppers, has been part of a process of social segmentation. The eight kalimais can be considered as places of objectification that specify the many intermarriages practised in this place. The temple was founded by the Sanantan Dharma Temples Federation (SDTF) to delay conf licts and, if possible, control them. In reality, the tension is eclipsed, the groups of families following each other in the temple but not meeting there while the popular cults are always full of the faithful, whenever there occurs a public event. There is even a kind of duplication of the function of the temple in the kalimais system, which associates with each other in certain circumstances. The ideological opposition of the Sanatanists and Aryasamajists is attenuated by the existence of a Telugu acting minority, who practices social openness aided in this by the assistant priest who is a merchant of the village. The village of Camp de Masque is made up of small independent planters and sharecroppers, some of whom are also employees of the public service and others, the most enterprising, have opened small retail businesses. The big, old resident planters are absent. Their lands are located on the slopes of the hills where they grow in sharecropping, banana and pineapple by the residents. At Camp de Masque there is a social contradiction between high and low castes, which allows minority communities to play their part in the electoral political concert. This situation gives rise to a Brahmanisation of the popular cults on the one hand and develops on the other hand syncretic practices concerning the cult of Kali, which brings together minority groups alongside Hindu low caste sometimes allied to high caste. We will study these ceremonial practices and the contradictions that are implemented in the next two chapters.

Lallmatie, a class division process that espouses community and caste distinctions. Lallmatie is the most demographically important village in the region with 9,532 inhabitants,12 eight Kalimais, two Hindu temples affiliated with the two competing federations Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation and Sanatan Dharma Mandir Parishad. The first is along the main road and the second is located on a secondary road opposite the Jawaharlal Nehru Primary Government School. Two of the eight kalimais are erected in the courtyards of two former inhabitants of the village – the T. and H. families – who have moved to the city since 1965. The current residents are cousins more or less distant from the T. family and the kalimai, located on the national road through the village of Lallmatie, is obviously a place of worship where often come the faithful. The kalimai has turned into a closed place (see Figure 7.2), tiled on all sides. It was urbanised, and the renovation was done with luxury bathroom materials. Even the exterior wall is tiled. ​

Development in the east  191

FIGURE 7.2 The

kalimai of the T. family.

The second kalimai belonging to the collaterals of the H. family (see Figure 7.3) who stayed Lallmatie is located on the cane fields in a locality which was formerly called Lallmatie dans Camp. Very different from the first, it is frequented today by the low castes Ravived and Rajputs, who still practice the sacrifice of animals. The kalimai has retained its rural character while all around a small city was built for future residents of modest condition. ​

FIGURE 7.3 The

kalimai of the H. family.

On the land where the residences are built, there is no possibility to grow garden crops. Around the kalimai, on the other hand, the space is open and can be used for attempts at enlargement by the inhabitants, who seek to cultivate vegetables for their needs of consumption or for the local market. It is noticeable in the photograph (Figure 7.3) that one of the niches that sheltered a goddess is empty while the other has no divinity either; just posters representing her. The central altar is the place for donations. There are Sanatanist and vegetarian cults. In front of the kalimai is the new residential area of Lallmatie camp which is very isolated, far from any shop and has no social centre because the land used by FUEL to build these social housing is part of the land “deal” between the government and the sugar establishment.13 These 800 acres of land are shown in black on the FUEL Factory Area map presented in the last chapter.

192  Development in the east

Since about 1975, the two family-owned types of kalimais have been appropriated by two groups of people, who practice different rituals. This phenomenon of collective appropriation of a place of worship almost abandoned by the big planters is usual. It reflects the change in the status of the lands of an abandoned cult that goes from a collective ownership to a private ownership, where there is a great tolerance about the rituals practised. Families, who are of different persuasions, can negotiate changes and resolve possible tensions related to intermarriage situations. These places are frequented by the cane field workers of the “agricultural entrepreneur” T. who manages the family’s property. These workers are of different castes, Vaishs, Raviveds and Rajputs. There is no plan to build a place of worship for the new residents of the subdivision. They are unlikely to get one, as they do not have enough political support to expect financial support to build it. This is why the place of prayer of the residents is the one which remained located on the land of the owner planter they work for, as is the case in Lallmatie, where they are renovating, now, an old cult. Two other kalimais of Lallmatie are on the lands of the big planters. The first belongs to the R. family (see Figure 7.7), which owns land in Lallmatie, Bon Accueil and St Julien’s village (see Figure 7.8). The second kalimai belongs to the family D. low caste Ravived in Bon Accueil. This family joined the civil service and occupies positions of judge, magistrate, other members of the family are part of the liberal professions, doctor and architect. The division of properties was made between the heirs. Some have sold their properties to invest in their professional lives. The sharecropping land is grown in vegetables such as potatoes, peanuts, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. No more rituals are practised in these two kalimais of large planters which are abandoned and in disinheritance. The fifth and last kalimai remains a place of family worship, belonging to the lower castes Ravived and Rajput. It is controlled by four groups of allied families (S., S., S. and H.), who split with the Aryasamaj movement to found their own association Arya Prachini Ravived Sabha, whose centre of the federation is in Port Louis. It is these families who built the Hindu low caste temple located in front of the village primary school (Figure 7.4). This social formation now has professionals, civil servants, traders who have their stores in Lallmatie (cloth, hardware, printing and a supermarket.) ​

FIGURE 7.4 The

temple of SitaRam at Lalmatie.

Development in the east  193

Lallmatie is the only village in the region with two Hindu temples, founded by the two competing federations, the Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation (SDTF) and the Sanatan Dharma Mandir Parishad (SDMP). The split refers to a caste conf lict which we will analyse the general process of emergence in the third part. The foundation of the first temple dates back to 1922 when the great planter D. Reetoo financed its construction. ​

FIGURE 7.5 Foundation

of the temple.

In 2004, when we visited the temple, we were surprised not to find the marble plaque (Figure 7.5) that the Reetoo family told us about in 2000. It should have been at the entrance of the temple and was simply removed by the new managers. In its place, a new plaque was installed where a text was written in Hindi that says nothing about the founder of the temple. It should be noted that since the formation of the Sanatan Dharma Mandir Parishad federation, the control of the temple has been taken, definitively, by the Baboojees/Marazs. The priest in charge of the temple insisted that Zamais tiena ene Reetoo ki ine foundé ça temple là (“there was never a Reetoo who founded this temple”). The break between the Vaish group founder of the temple and the Baboojee/Maraz modernisers of the temple is clear as is, moreover, the second division of the village between the lower castes Ravived and Rajput. When the temple was renovated in 1985, the lower castes and the Vaishs split with the high castes, who preferred to pray in a kalimai that belongs to them. This situation is the product of competition between big planters – Reetoo families from Saint Julien and Teeluck from Bon Accueil. Both of them made religious donations – the Lallmatie temple for the Reetoo, the Hare Rama Hare Krishna Centre for the Teeluck (donation of nearly 100 acres of land). In this manner, they hoped to strengthen and even increase their social and economic positions. These donations did not have the expected effect, because they arrived at the moment when the family entered a process of decline by individualisation of the branches of families. As a result, the control of the temple has been taken away by the family for the benefit of those who are politically in the best position. Low caste farm workers and Tamils left the temple and broke into smaller groups according to the geographical distribution of their place of residence and work. ​

194  Development in the east

FIGURE 7.6 The

temple of Jhaakandinath Mandir of Lallmatie.

The Aryasamaj movement was founded in the region in 1965 by the family of Ramhota planters, whose elders continue the exploitation, while the children and the other brothers became professionals such as scholars and businessmen. Until 1999, this centre played a role in moderating caste tensions, which have tended to become more radical since the MMM changed its alliance with the PTR from 1995 to 2000, then with that of the MSM since 2000. The relations of the village are built on a duality between low and high castes, visible in the articulation of kalimais to newly built temples, which are managed by federations, whose recent split is the product of the same types of social divisions as those of villagers. The Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation has taken control of the low caste temple, while the Sanatan Dharma Mandir Parishad has taken control of the high-caste temple (Figure 7.6). It is noted that through inheritance the segmentation of the plantation has led to the fragmentation of extended families and the internal conf lict with the big planters has shifted by a domino-like effect to the opposition of the lower Ravived and Rajput castes and the Vaish relations with low castes. It can be tentatively concluded that the class character is only visible from the moment when small businesses develop, showing so many signs of the fragmentation of families, some branches having established themselves in the city. These businesses extend along the Royal Road. All the social and economic categories found in Port Louis are represented in this village, which has become almost a small town. Indeed, two textile factories in the free zone employ nearly 2,000 workers who are of Tamil origin, Hindu low castes and to a lesser extent a few families of Vaish and Creole. The village spreads, like Triolet, along the road for about 20 kilometres because of the alternation and the proximity of the fields of the old families of big planters, some of them having left the farm but who, all, have built their homes on their land. Along the village road towards Port Louis, from left to right, you can see the following great Vaish families: Ramhota, Bunjun, Dookee, Sundar, Gianee, Madhoo and so on. These families have an average of 20 people. Then there are Baboojees/Marazs, Jundoosingh, Ramdour, Fowdar, Beessoondoyal, Ramphul,

Development in the east  195

Bisnathsing, Jodasing and Dozekee families, which are grouped in the centre of Lallmatie and have about ten people each. The working class neighbourhood is made up of Tamil and Creole families. The city is located along one of the secondary roads that surround the college Manilal Doctor Secondary School, not far from the Tamil Temple of the village. A market is held twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, in the courtyard of the Swaraj Bhawan where all political rallies organise during election campaigns. The villagers of Lallmatie do not differ in anything in its composition, that of an urban district of Flacq or of Rivière du Rempart or even of Goodlands which are the main towns of the north and the east. It is difficult to assert that the population of villages where there are large planters is necessarily a rural population living from agriculture. The fact of choosing to reside in their village of origin for the families of the big plantation is due to the quality of life and the space on which were built very large and beautiful villas of one or two f loors. The residences, the kalimais have modernised at the same time. Of course, part of the population lives from agriculture very often coupled with commercial activities of greater or lesser importance. For example, the Bharat family, one of the big Vaish planters, sold their agricultural land to build one big supermarket in Lallmatie. Only labourers who are still working in the sugar estate of FUEL can be qualified as peasants, but they are not numerous to reside at Lallmatie, at Bon Accueil, or at Laventure because they work on the lands of the big planters on the basis of fixed-term contracts. They also have other activities such as small tobacco shops, holding small restaurants, peddling on markets and fairs in the area, fishing and selling fish and octopus called “ourites.”

Bon Accueil: a duality between large and small planters Bon Espoir has 6,004 residents and has retained its agricultural character. There were three great families of Vaish planters (two) and Baboojee (one). One of the Vaish families still owns the property of more than 100 acres, in the form of agricultural wage earning, and resides on the spot. The other families of planters have their own sirdars to look after their farm and live in the city. There are four kalimais, two of which are located in the fields of these properties, which were offered by the bosses to their employees. The other two kalimais are in the city centre, in the courtyard of two people, where they are very popular in the public. Kalimais were transferred from the cane fields, which became kalimais of the city, in order to facilitate the worship of people by bringing places of worship closer to their home. Only one Hindu temple, belonging to the lower castes, was founded from a donation of a Mauritian business man native from the village, but absent from Mauritius. Let us recall that the Teeluck family, after having contributed to the foundation of the kalimais, built a large Hare Rama Hare Krishna temple and donated 100 acres of cane land to this community of prayers. This important donation of land to a foreign organisation was hardly appreciated by the villagers, whose reaction was brutal, and resulted in a refusal

196  Development in the east

of all the labourers to come and work on the lands of the Teeluck family which had to solve this serious labour problem, meaning that the family began to fragment and sell its patrimony.

Saint Julien d’Hotman: an agricultural and industrial employment alongside the large plantation With 2,904 inhabitants, Saint Julien d’Hotman is the smallest village in the region. Like the Teeluck de Bon Accueil, the Reetoo family, which owned over a thousand acres of land before 1930, subsidised the two oldest kalimais, which they no longer maintain, since the lands where these cults were moved belonged to the heritage of the sugar company of FUEL. It looks after the two places on behalf of their Tamil labourers. The same workers who cultivated for the Reetoo have subsequently grown for FUEL. The Reetoo families have kept their homes in Saint Julien d’Hotman, while they have their lands in Saint Julien’s village, very close to Lallmatie, where their grandfather contributed, by important donations, to the construction from the Jharkhandinath Mandir Temple in 1922. Donors of the land were the Vaish families, Deokee Joorawon and Beeharry Mahton. ​

FIGURE 7.7  Private

kalimai of the R. family. Site designed by former Commander


The other two kalimais were founded by the Ramburun, the second largest land owners of the village. These cults are no more maintained than the first, because they are only used as an annual gathering place for the families of the village before they go on pilgrimage to Grand Bassin. The R. family chose to build a temple on the hill that overlooks their lands, in the heart of their plantations, for their Hindu workers, while they completely abandon the kalimai, which is below on their property (Figure 7.7). The R. family sold their land to those of their workers who wished to acquire it by giving them payment facilities. These labourers also worked in a textile factory, the Overseas Glove Factory, led by a Chinese owner who employed about 1,000 full-time workers.

Development in the east  197

Finally, the structure of the village is once again dual: on the highlands are the families of the big planters with the kalimais disused, the Hindu temple on the hill, the lands of which belong to the family R. The photograph is a panoramic view of the kalimai of this family which overhangs their property of cane fields, with an approximate area of 50 arpents and the residences of the big land owners of Saint Julien d’Hotman (Figure 7.8). The residences of the parents and collaterals are below: camps, houses of the different members of the family and temple are thus grouped together. This geography of the places measures quite well the social power of the family. ​

FIGURE 7.8 Overview

of the lands and residences of the Ramburun family.

The Ashootosh Hindu Temple of Saint Julien d’Hotman (see Figure 7.9), also called Tulsi Mandir, is very recent and, curiously, was not founded by any of the two families mentioned before. It is a third large family from the nearby village of Camp Thorel, Seeburun who erected this temple on their land, close to those of the Reetoo. ​

FIGURE 7.9 The

oldest Kaliamen kovil temple of Saint Julien d’Hotman.

Further on, at Saint Julien d’Hotman, is the lower part of the village and the two Tamil temples of high and low castes, whose split of which dates back to

198  Development in the east

1976 at the time of the rise of the MMM,14 which resulted in their separation. The division into caste is economic as much as political. The Tamils of this village were the labourers on the land of the big planters and have remained there. The third Tamil building is a kalimai with a renovated architecture, so that it present itself today as a Mariamen Kovil-type temple. The renovation of the old kalimai of the sugar plantation of FUEL took place in the 1990s, when the working conditions of the labourers changed rapidly to lead to the recent re-structuring. ​

FIGURE 7.10 The

temple Soopramanien kovil of high caste founded in 1975.

The high-caste temple (Figure 7.10), founded in 1975, is now managed by a healer around whom fire walks are organised, whose devotees are the Tamil and Hindu labourers of the FUEL company, as well as the workers of the textile factories Overseas Glove and Inattendu Factory, the former having being just closed. In addition to the two high and low caste Tamil temples, there is Bonhomme Salute (see Figures 7.11 and 7.12) and a new, temple-like kalimai, not to mention other very private kalimais such as the former Minister Hon Jagdishwar Gobhurdun and the Reetoo ones at the junction of the roads of Quartier Militaire and Saint Julien d’Hotman. All these buildings enlighten a social differentiation, which has occurred over time, distinguishing big planters and professionals on the one hand, factory workers, small planters and field labourers, on the other hand. Part of the land of the big planters has been sold. The number of kalimais still existing today on the plantation lands, belong, in most cases, to the large planters of the village. The places of worship of the labourers have become public collective structures. They have the same function of assembly as that ordinarily devolved to the temples. This mutation of the popular cults coincides with the complexification of the local society. ​

Development in the east  199

FIGURE 7.11  Bonhomme

Salute, guardian of the village at the exit of Saint Julien


The preserved statue of Bollom Salute, in the cane landscape of Saint Julien d’Hotman, represents the former sirdar of the property FUEL (see Figure 7.11). It marks the social proximity of large and small planters of an era disappearing with the fragmentation of property. Bollom Salut seems to guard and protect the kalimai which became temple. The labourers who, prior to Independence, worked in the fields of the big planters, who were agricultural entrepreneurs, subcontractors of the establishment, experienced a change of their situation. Temporary agricultural workers, working on the field of a large planter, sirdar, subcontractor of FUEL for the cane cutting, the labourers became agricultural employees, because of the obligation made by the government to the sugar companies to hire indeterminate workers, as we would say today. With Independence, they acquired a job guarantee at a time when there was a high unemployment rate. ​

FIGURE 7.12 The kalimai turned into a temple in the 1990s. Bollom Salute is to the left

of the temple and back, along the national highway.

200  Development in the east

The transformation of the kalimai into a temple, the privatisation of the kalimais of the big planters and Bollom Salute represent three essential levels of village transformation since Independence.

Saint Julien’s village: a community differentiation in the absence of a large plantation With its 2,921 villagers, Saint Julien’s village presents a symbolic very balanced structure of space sharing by four kalimais and three different temples, belonging to Telugus, Tamils and Hindus. The Hindu Temple is built in the courtyard of a priest housed and paid for by temple society. This priest officiates in kalimais as in temples. The two Hindu and Tamil temples were built by the societies of the two kalimais of each of the two communities. To the difference of all the villages, Saint Julien village has no bigger planters, because properties have been divided in this place since 1937, date of the birth of the FUEL company. The duality temple/kalimai adjusts to the main differentiation established in this village on the basis of community distinctions.

Lucie Roy: a future fragmentation of the property The last village before Camp de Masque is that of Lucie Roy, which is inseparable from the Roy family, as its name suggests. This large family, still operating 500 acres, had the same business model, already described for Dabeedeen Reetoo, by participating financially in the foundation of many kalimais for the workers of the property. Although a large social centre was built along the road leading to Beauchamp, the family renovates the kalimai at Clémencia. Shyamdut Roy, who is also the president of the Sanathan Dharma Mandir Parishad, still holds his role of social mediator, who is concerned about the well-being of his employees. To see this, it suffices to visit the residences of certain employees, to understand the conception he has of the management of his company, which goes with a certain generosity. The great particularity of the popular cults of the Roy exploitation is in the fact that not only he modernises the sites, but also, he manages them and gives donations on the occasion of the great local festivals. Three kalimais are on his property. The Hindu temple in La Lucie was also built by the great-grandfather of the family, who resided there, the Beauchamps estates having also donated the land for the construction of the building. But the Roy family must now consider a fragmentation of their land because the farm exploitation will not be taken over by the succession of the generations to come.

Conclusion: a village, a temple The region of Flacq is, as the late Mr Ramesh Ramphul told us, the cradle of popular cults, but they know, as everywhere on the island, a progressive

Development in the east  201

disaffection when they do not privatise totally. This privatisation is the last sign of the still current importance of the large plantation in the region. The magnificence of the private kalimais would be the harbinger of an engaged process of erasure, more or less rapid and total, of the large plantation to the profit of a temporary workers and agricultural wage-earning where, in the villages, were established textile factories in the free zone. A new rural landscape is emerging with the building of temples in relation to new social differences, according to the more or less stable balance of existing caste, community and professional distinctions. Original myths are being relegated to the rank of convenient superstitions, and tutelary deities are usually undermined by a dominant ideology, extolling the value of scholarly religion by which divine representations are becoming standardised. With the foundation of temples in the smallest village, we enter a religious context where the distinction between economic and political is not easy to establish. All the villages, with the exception of Camp de Masque, have popular cults in the process of abandonment. This situation leads us to believe in the probable disappearance of popular practices within a decade. In support of this hypothesis we will point out that the villages structured around the big plantation like Bon Accueil, Lallmatie, Saint Julien d’Hotman have introduced prayer or meditation centres like the Hare Rama Hare Krishna movement, the mother Amma, Ramakrihsna mission, Aryasamaj centres, as well as yoga meditation techniques practised by Brahma Kumari.

Notes 1 The mutation of the property lands of the mill of the Unit is presented in Chapter 6. We include the major periods of land mutation of the other mills Beauvallon and Clémencia, while publishing, in appendix, tables concerning the acquirers, IndoMauritian, for the most part, land plots fragmented before the formation of the company FUEL: 1893, 1914 and 1937 Tables in annex. 2 The concept of “old migrants” is a historical category of reference to the history of Indian immigration. It refers to the first immigrants to be constituted in social class and have become, for the most part, the “high castes” according to the Brookfield terminology (Chazan-Gillig & Widmer, 2001). 3 “Estimated Resident Population Census 2000.” Central Statistic Office (CSO). 4 Mr. Burun is “freelancer” with the newspaper Weekend. This article was published on 20 August 1995. 5 Montocchio was one of the two notaries of Flacq. 6 See Annexures 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3. 7 Such a policy had beneficial effects, such as controlling the work force, which was a determining factor in the economic equilibrium of a sugar estate, given the difficulties encountered in recruiting labourers at the time of cutting. 8 Babajee is also called instead of Maraz to signify real belonging to high castes. Curiously, in Mauritius, the term Maraz is a general term meaning all castes combined. The current language sometimes turns symbolic, because to use the same term, to mean high castes or all castes combined seems to test the hypothesis that there is no family that is – historically speaking – from the high castes in Mauritius. The caste distinctions were produced on the spot, through the division of labour in the sugar plantation and the rules of alliance that were formed on the spot.

202  Development in the east

9 Exchanges of views with Moorli Gujadhur at a chance meeting in Port Louis. 10 See in the next section. 11 See map FUEL No. 11, represents the exact boundaries of the land area that is part of FUEL’s factory area. See glossary. 12 According to CSO statistics from the last census 2000. 13 According to the negotiations that took place between the government and the establishment of FUEL at the time of its concentration. 14 The MMM, in fact, was the political framework for the emergence of low castes when the PTR/PMSD/CAM alliance was in trouble.

Development in the east  203 ANNEXURE 7.1 Parcelling of the properties of Beauvallon Fabre 1893

Parcelling of properties

Beauvallon Fabre 1893

Name of the owners


Andoo and Ethbarea Ankhaj Azgur Bacha Baichoo Balkissoon Balnat and Lochun Banee Basamie Bhagoo Bhanee Bhauboa Bhoobun Bhugoo Bhupathee Mamod Issoo Bhupathee Sonrry Korim Bissooa Boodheea Sugor Boodram Bootthanee and Guissee Bundhoo Bundhoo Bungshee Cassim Chinamun Assorug Chinamun Lohun Chooramun Deerageeah Fooljareea Fooljareea Ganga Bissoon Gobin Sewdun Gobooree Goburdhun Gokhool Gopal Gopal Soomaria Gopal Soomaria Goyee and Bhoodoyee Heeroo Hunnoo Hurday Jandoo Jaydoot Juttaroo

1 arpent 1 arpent 75 perches 1 arpent 1 arpent 75 perches 2 arpents 1 arpent 50 perches 50 perches 1 arpent 1 arpent 80 perches 50 perches 1 arpent 25 perches 1 arpent 1 arpent 1 arpent 75 perches 1 arpent 1/2 1 arpent 1/4 1 arpent 1 arpent 2 arpents 2 arpents 1/4 2 arpents 1/2 1 arpent 1/4 1 arpent 1/2 arpent 1/2 arpent 1 arpent 1/2 1/2 arpent 1 arpent 50 perches 1 arpent 1/2 arpent 1 arpent 1/2 1 arpent 2 arpents 50 perches 50 perches 1 arpent 50 perches 1 arpent (Continued )

204  Development in the east ANNEXURE 7.1 (Continued)

Parcelling of properties

Parcelling of properties

Sur une superficie de 500 Arpents (M.A. 1894)

Name of the owners


Kabooharee Khedun Kuboosoy Name of owners Lochun Manick Modely Mohungoo Mungu Gopaul Noormamod Noormamod Noormohamded and A. Rahim Parbutty Passamanian Rambhorasah Ramchurrun Ramdoss Ramessur Ramessur Ramphul Goojeea Seebosseea Seeparsad Seeratun Seewootohul Sewnath Soobratty Soodhur Sookeera Hurry Soomaroo Soomaroo Tatloo Jooman Teeluck Teemul Gobin Timol 78 Planteurs

50 perches 50 perches 50 perches Area 80 perches 50 perches 1 arpent 2 arpents 50 2 arpents 1 arpent 75 perches 1 arpent 25 1 arpent 50 50 perches 50 perches 1 arpent 1 arpent 1/2 1 arpent 1/2 1 arpent 1 arpent 1/2 1 arpent 1 arpent 50 perches 75 perches 1 arpent 50 perches 50 perches 50 perches 1 arpent 1 arpent 1/2 2 arpents 1/2 2 arpents 2 arpents 1 arpent 79 arpents 10 perches

Average surface Area: 1 Acre to 2 Acres. 25 perches to 50 perches of land.

Development in the east  205 ANNEXURE 7.2 Parcelling of lands of Beauvallon, also called “Bois Vallon” 1914

Name of the owners


Price/ arpents

Total price


A.J. Dilmamode Abdool Cassim Kariman Ackbar Peerbacuss Ajodha Beeharry Ajodha Beeharry Akurim Bakee Audar Kalia Partak Augnoo Dasagne B. Goolam Rassool Babarally Bagoonsing Bagwansing Beedessee Beegun Beekharry Persan Beekharry Persan Booblall Sochun Boodhoo Jodur Budessee Bugun Bundoo Gopal Bundoo Mokeea Buruth Poohooly Carimbaccus Waloo Dawootee Lutchmeea Dhurumneerasamy Dookee Hauhun Dookee Ragoo Dooknee Beehary Boobun Dooly Padaruth Doulaha Kowlessur Dwarika Dasagne Foolbasseea Ragoobeer Gangabissoon Kourdeal Goburdhun Jodun Goburdhun Jodun Goindamah Permalmoon Gopal Domah Heera Hauhun Heera Sokaye Heera Sokaye Hossenee Hossenee Califa Hossenee Califa Jagessur Beeharry Jankeeparsad Boobun

5A58P 5A-04P 5A-45P 5A-82P 1A_70P 1A-08P 2A-60P 1A-28P 3A-58P 1A-85P 75P 4A-11P 1A 1A-63P 1A-28P 2A-50P 3A 2A-54P 26P 3A75P 2A-82P 1A-20P 1A-05P 2A-49P 1A-63P 2A-43P 1A 1A-50P 1A-18P 1A 1A50P 2A-44P 1A 1A 4A-11P 2A-15P 1A-58P 25P 2A-90 1A-85P 2A 1A-85P 50P 65P

225 350 500 500 400 300 100 125 350 200 350 125 275 225 200 400 125 225 225 400 325 100 350 90 125 200 100 225 90 325 400 100 325 400 125 100 125 225 100 90 100 90 225 200

1,255.50 1764 2725 2910 680 325.50 260 160 1253 370 262.50 513.75 275 366.75 256 1000 375 571.50 58.50 1500 916.50 120 367.50 224.10 203.75 486 100 337.50 106.20 325 600 244 325 400 513.75 215 197.50 56.25 290 166.50 200 166.50 112.50 130

125.55 261

72.98 118.47


5.85 90.00

37.45 8.75


(Continued )

206  Development in the east ANNEXURE 7.2 (Continued)

Name of the owners


Price/ arpents

Total price

Jeetun Khedoo Jeewooth Boodeen Kissoondoyal Jugroo Lookaran Bakoo Mamode Hossen Bodee Mamode Hossen Peerally Mamode Joomun Matoora Maudarbaccus Akoo

1A-10P 4A-02P 1A-30P 6A-58P 1A 2A 1A-25P 1A-60P 2A-15P

275 325 225 90 200 375 325 500 100

302.50 1,306.50 292.50 592.20 200 750 406.25 800 215

Mohabeer Beedessee Mohabeer Gangia MohunParsad Kalicharan MohunParsad Kalicharan Mrs Montocchio Mungroo Mungroo Mooklall mungroo Seegopaul Mungur Bandee Mungurawelloo Nabeebacus Nandlall Gobardhan Perpaul Ramsaransing Poolbasiadaree Radee Dasagne Radey Balack Raffiak Mohwo Ragoonanun RayKalia Rambarack Ally Rambrick Ramdanee Rambrick Ramdanee Rambrick Ramdanee Ramburuth Ramchankar Ramdanee Bojoo Ramgoolam Dasagne Ramgoolam Dasagne Ramjuttun Mohur Ramkhalawon Ramkissoon Gungoodeen Ramkissoon Madoo Ramlagan Dasagne Ramlakan Gobardhan

1A50P 1A 2A 8AO8P 10A-39P 2A-46P 1A-51P 2A-47P 1A 1A-05P 4A-17P 2A-75P 50P 4A-25P 2A-04P 2A -25P 1A67P 50P 75P 4A-40P 3A-90P 3A-82P 50P 1A-50P 1A-50P 1A 1A-20P 1A-50P 4A 3A 1A-50P 1A 3A

450 200 400 200 300 250 90 90 325 450 125 90 450 90 500 500 500 225 275 250 250 200 225 225 80 275 200 450 600 350 275 200 90

675 200 800 1600 3117 615 135.90 222.30 325 472.50 521.25 247.50 225 382.50 1020 1125 835.00 112.50 206.25 1100 975 764 112.50 337 120 275 240 675 2400 1050 412.50 200 270


35.31 22.64 75 40.62 72.50




83.50 11.25 55.12

97.73 109.66 41.25

(Continued )

Development in the east  207 ANNEXURE 7.2 (Continued)

Name of the owners


Price/ arpents

Total price


Ramnarain Abeeluck Ramparsad Ackraz Rampersad Bhoowan Rampersad Ramesewkran Ramphul Goondia Ramsurrun Akraz Raznaksing S. Robert Sadeo Kowlessur Saneechurn Kumarry Seebafan Kaideroo Seegoolam Dasagne Seesunkar Bizmohun Seesunkur Dookun Seetalparsad Seewooraz Ramdin Sewooputhunboory Beehary Soobasia Mungur Sookdea SadeoKowlessur Sookdeo Kowlessur

1A73P 5A-25P 25P 2A-71P 1A 2A 5A-66P 36A 1A 2A-70P 1A-05P 1A 3A-48p 133P 1A-45P 80P 5A

350 125 225 100 325 125 125 600 300 325 350 200 500 125 200 90 100

605.50 656.25 56.25 271 325 250 707.50 21600 300 877.50 367.50 200 1740 166.25 490 72.00 500


2A-20P 6A-31P 1A-50P

325 90 300

715 567.90 450

Sookdeo Kowlessur Sookral Deenoo Sookun Gopal Srebun Balkissoon Srikissoon Jugroo Sundeebasseea Manday Veeramootoo Yadally Cassally

15A 82P 1A 3A 1A 1.A14P 6A 1A-25P

125 80 200 100 275 325 500 200

1875 65.60 200 300 275 370.50 3000 250

30 71.90 36.75 174 14.00 9

56.70 45


Clémencia Beauvallon

Chinagoinden Moomah alias Chineegoinden Naoomah vve de Arjeena Mooneesawmy

Doomun Ahmed Balgobin Lutchmun Ramsewok Balkissoon

Beejadhur Booluck Radhan Seepargath Saribijadhur Jhumun Sookeea Khodabocus Ameenah Poonoosamy Doorga Fakim Mamode Appadoo Appanah Kowlessur Aubeeluck Soobratty Akuna Gukhool Resmee Jundhun Banchoo Boodhooj, Jundhun Lallbeeharry and Jundhun Soomeetra

Rajcoomar Gujadhur Rajcoomar Gujadhur Rajcoomar Gujadhur

Appadoo Appanah

Hurday Seegobin

Rajcoomar Gujadhur

1937 Terrains distraits de l’Unité

Name of the owners

Sold by


ANNEXURE 7.3 Parcelling of the property of Unité, Clémencia and Beauvallon 1937

vve de Mons Mooneesawmy

Social relations

1A-41P 13A-3P 1A-62P 1A-3P 1A-3P

5A-85P 3A-50P 3A-7P 1A-14P 1A-35P 1A-20P 2A 38P 2A-25P 2A 4A-2P 3A-20P



Vol.423 N° 596 Vol.423 N° 596 Vol.423 N° 601 Vol.423 N°594 Vol.423 N°594

Vol.400 N°100 Vol.423 N° 597 Vol.423 N° 602 Vol.423 N°606

Vol.423 N°593

Vol.423 N°604 Vol.423 N°605

Vol.372 N°124

References of the Actes notariés

208  Development in the east


MauritiusAgricultural and Industrial Company Limited

91P 1A-61P 2A- 52P 1A-7P 50P 2A 50P 60A

Rambhujun Jadoonanun Boyroo Chutoo Boodhee H. R. Proag B. Ittoo BeebeeJaun Ibrahim

Vol.375 N°415 Vol. 373 N°416 Vol.373 N°417 Vol.375 N°418 Vol.396 N° 90 Vol.402 N°548 Vol.402 N°549

Vol.375 N°414

Vol.427 N°443 Vol.427 N°444

1A 2A-50P


Vol.425 N°442


21 P

veuve de Kissondoyal Joyseery Foolbasseea ausii appelée joysree vve de Kissoondoyal, tutrice Rookmeen Jugroo, Soomitra kissoondoyal alias soomitra Jugroo épouse de Budhun Gayadin Toolfany Mariam épouse de Mundhoo Mamode Issack Raman Balac vve de Ramdin veuve de Ramdin veuve de Rampersad Kassee Purbatteea vve de Rampersad Aubeeluck Aubeeluck, tutrice Chutturdharry Aubeeluck, Kowlessur Aubeeluck et Bajnath Aubeeluck Ramchurn and others

Development in the east  209


Book 1 Acadassi or Ekādaśī  The eleventh lunar day of each of the two lunar phases

which occur in a Hindu calendar month – the Sukla Paksha and the Krishna Paksha. In Hinduism, Jainism Ekadasi is considered a spiritual day and is usually observed by partial fast. Acharya  The preceptor who interprets the philosophical content and theological religion. Agès  The Indianised name of a sugar mill owner from the white community. Agiyari  The way to address the deities by drawing seven circles clockwise and burning camphor on a tray. Agni Fire. Ahmadiya  A Muslim sect that considers Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (Pakistan) as the Promised Messiah. Akbar  Name of the king of India in the Mongol period. Allah  God of Muslims. Allée Brillant  Name of a village located in the Castel de Curepipe district, at the place called Eau Coulée. Amba  “Goddess Amba or Ambika, also known as Durga Maa and Ambe Maa, is one of the Goddesses, who is worshipped. Amba Mata is known as Durga Maa. She is also known as Amba Maa, Bahuchara Maa, Kalika Maa, Bhadrakali Maa, Maa Bhavani and many more names.” Amourou  Mother Kali Andra Maha Sabha  Association of Telugu people of Mauritius. Anteyesthi  Funeral or last rites. Arti “Arti also written as Aarti, Arati, Arathi, Aarthi” in Devanagari: “आरत ी” is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which light (usually from a f lame of camphor) is offered to one or more deities. Arti may also refer to the songs sung in praise of the deity, when the light is being offered.

212  Glossary

It is performed on every important occasion like marriage, inauguration of something etc. and is part of Puja or worship.” Arumugum  Tamil God Muruga (also known as Kartikeya in North India, son of Shiva and Parvati). Arya Mandir  Temple of Arya Samaj (society). Arya Sabha  Aryasamaj association of Mauritius. Arya Samaj  Arya Samaj is a monotheistic Indian Hindu reform movement that promotes values and practices based on the belief in the infallible authority of the Vedas. The Samaj was founded by the sanyasi Dayanand Saraswati on 10 April 1875. Members of the Arya Samaj believe in one God and reject the worship of idols. It has a great presence in Mauritius.” Arya Samajiste  Member of Aryasamaj. Ashram  “An ashram (also written like Ashrama or Ashramam) is a monastery or a spiritual hermitage or convent run by religious sects in Indian religions.” AtharVeda  One of the four books of Vedas which are verses sung or recited to the God of Fire “Agni.” The Athar Veda is based on a metaphysical conception of truth. Auba  Synonym of Amba, also known as the divinity Durga. Baboojee  Higher caste in Mauritius. Bagwat Gita/Bhagavad Gita  The Bhagavad Gita or Bagwat Gita literally means “The Song of God.” Often referred to as the Gita, is a 700-verse Sanskrit scripture and is part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. This is a discourse between Krishna and Arjuna. The dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna covers a broad range of spiritual topics, touching upon ethical dilemmas and philosophical issues that go far beyond the war Arjuna faces. Baharia puja  A ceremony during which the sacrifice of goats is offered in honour of deity Kali. Baïro  Baïro or Bhairava is the name of Shiva in the sites of Kalimai where he is present. It is on the altar, slightly removed from the seven sisters. Baïtka  Hindu educational centre, located not far from the camps or villages of residence in the sugar plantations. Oriental languages were taught there at a time when there was no school for education. Bali   Deity Vishnu eliminated the forces of evil in the person of Bali, king of demons. This story is told in the sacred book “Vishnu Puran.” Bandari   During religious ceremonies or weddings, it is tradition that neighbours, relatives or friends “bandaris,” participate in the preparation of food for the feast. Bandi  One of Kali’s seven sisters. Bangladesh  Name given by the leader of the Mauritian Social Democratic Party, Mr Gaetan Duval for Tranquebar. Bar  Bar also known as Banyan or Vat is a tree whose leaves are used to lay offerings to the gods. Barlow  Village located near Lamaury in the Rivière du Rempart district. Barosu Kateri  Tamil divinity invoked in witchcraft. Batwa  Name given to young Chinese gourds or calabashes. Bel Ombre  Sugar property located in Savannah district. Bel Patar  “Bel” is a tree which is also known as bilva. Bel tree and “patar” mean leaf. Bel patar is also offered to the goddess Kalimai and God Shiva in offerings. Bel Air  A big village located in the District Council of Moka-Flacq, not far from Montagne Blanche.



Belle village  A suburban district, located on the national road that leads to

Curepipe, at the exit of Port Louis.

Bellevue Maurel  Village located in the district of Rivière du Rempart. Bellevue Pilot  Former sugar estate, located in the district of Pamplemousses. Beta Son Bhagat  Name of the officiant for the pig sacrifice. Bhagavad Katha  Ceremony organised to learn or to hear the sacred story of

the Bhagavad Puran. It lasts ten days during which fasting is practised. I know this because we shared some common heritage knowledge. Bhagwan God. Bhajan Kritan  Sung Prayers or devotional songs. Bhawan  Sociocultural building. Bhojan  Meal or food. Bhojpuri  Dialect derived from the Hindi language, which contains roots of Creole words, English and French in Mauritius. Bhojpuri is also spoken in northern India, but it is different from the Mauritian language because of the contribution of the languages spoken by other communities on the island. Bhojpuri and Creole are considered the two mother tongues of Mauritians. Binde  Copper container in which rice cooked with saffron and mixed with tamarind is transported by women on their heads when they go in procession to carry it as an offering to Kali. Birha  Folklore song competition between two groups of singers in native language Bhojpuri from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in northern India. Birha literally means “pain of being away.” Biswa  Witchcraft during which a suckling pig is killed. Bon-Accueil  Former sugar estate located in the district of Flacq. Bonne-Mère  Former mill in the Flacq district, attached to Queen Victoria before the creation of the FUEL sugar company. Bora  Boras are Shia. In Mauritius the Currimjee ancestors were Boras. They are from Gujrat (India). Bouddha  Founder of Buddhism. Bougni  Sharp stick by which the pig is pricked and killed. Brahmin  Higher caste of Mauritius. Bramha  Creator of the Universe. Camassia dayn  Professional witches coming from India as immigrants. Camp de Masque Pavé  Adjacent to Camp de Masque, located on the inner road, which runs from the National Road to Bel-Air following the valleys below Montagne Blanche. Camp de Masque  Former Unity camp became a village today. Camp Diable  Village located near Chemin Grenier in Savannah district. Camp Garro  Camp in Flacq District. Camp Ithier  Former camp, now village, on the road from Bel Air to Trou d’Eau Douce. Caroline  Village on the road from Flacq to Grand River South East. Carreau  A term used to describe plantation of sugarcane, vegetables. Cassis  Outskirt of Port Louis. Cavadee  The main cult of the Tamils, dedicated to the divinity of Muruga or Murungan. CCS  Consumer’s Cooperative Society Chacha  Brother of father (father’s brother)

214  Glossary

Chachi  Wife of paternal uncle or chacha. Chakra  Vishnu’s sphere/circle-shaped weapon, which he uses as a club to elim-

inate demons.

Chalansar Aghori, Chalansar Brahmat, Chalansar Chulamari, Chalansar Katmari  Tutelary deities that can be found in the kalimais. Chamar  Lower caste in Mauritius. Chambeli  Chambeli or Chameli is a white f lower specially given to Kali. Chamouny  Village near Chemin Grenier in full expansion in the Savannah


Champs de Mars  Place in Port Louis where horse racing are held every

Saturday afor six months in year.

Chandan  Sacred wood reduced into powder usually used by priests and put on

the forehead.

Chawtari  Day after the wedding. The boy’s parents and the newlyweds go to

the girl’s parents’ house to have a meal together.

Chitrakoot  Name given by Basdeo Bissoondoyal to the Valley of the Priests,

evoking by its quiet and woody appearance, the work of the poet Tulsidas.

Clémencia  Village of the former sugar mill in the region of Montagne Blanche. Colatam  Dance of young girls with sticks that usually precedes all the Indian

religious parades of Ganesh, Muruga or Durga.

Coolie  Indian Immigrant. CPE  Certificate of Primary Education. Elementary school leaving certificate

obtained through a national exam that grades children on merit to obtain the best public or private secondary education colleges. Curepipe  City of Plaine Wilhems district, where the whites formerly settled in Port Louis, chose to establish their residence after the outbreaks of malarias. Dada Grandfather. Dadi Grandmother. Dagotière  Village located not far from Saint Pierre. Dakshin South. Dan Donation. Dankha Camp. Daruty  Name of a large Mauritian family of French origin. Dasulloo  Servant of the God/Lord. Dayn  Witch or sorceress. Dayntoni Sorcery. Debis Goddess. Dev Bhojan  Meal of the gods. Devi  Female divinities. Devta  Male divinities. Dewassia  The main person of the ceremony, acting as Kali. He goes into trance to invoke the goddess. Dhaja  Dhaja or Dhwaja is a Flag. Red Flag representing Hanuman and White Flag representing Bramha. Dharma  The duty of a Hindu to his religion. Dharti lok Earth. Dhi  Protective divinity of the village, most often placed at the entrance of the Kalimai on the side, under the tree. This divinity also called the spirit is worshipped at every Sanatanist’s residence.



Dholak  Round drum with percussion. “The dholak is a South Asian two-

headed hand drum.”

Dhoti  A large piece of unbleached canvas that is wrapped around the waist and

wrapped along the legs, tightened around the ankles. Once tied, the garment looks like puffy pants, giving plenty of ease and width along the pelvis and waist. Draupadi  Heroine of the epic Mahabharata. Durga Puja  Ceremony and worship of Durga which lasts for ten days and people may observe fast during these ten days. Dusadh  Lower caste. Fanale  Gas light or lamp. Flacq  The biggest district of Mauritius. Fond-du-Sac  Village located in the north of the island, inhabited by a predominantly Hindu population. FUEL  Flacq United Estates Limited. The largest sugar company located in the district of Flacq. Gandia  Hallucinogenic plant. Ganesh  God represented by an elephant’s head. Ganesh is one of the sons of Shiva and Parvati. He is considered the God of wisdom and prosperity. Ganga Snan Ceremony where the Ganges, the great sacred river of India, is invoked.  This ceremony takes place by the sea in Mauritius, where there

is no river of this size.

Ganga  The Ganges river. Gawna  A ceremony in which a young child sits on the father’s lap and must

separate from him for their marriage. The minimum age required for this ceremony is eight years. The future marriage is accepted by the families but it will not be consumated until later. Gharpost  A son-in-law who lives with his in-laws. Ghendha Ghendha or Genda – or in English “marigold” – is a yellow flower, used in many ceremonies:  Cavadee, Kanwar, etc. Ghoun ou Yamsey  Celebration commemorating the martyrdom of Houssein,

grandson of the Prophet

Godon  Room that acts as a living and bedroom but is only a reserved part of

a room.

Gony  Jute bag for grain transport. Goodlands  Village turned into a city in the North at Rivière du Rempart. Gowmata  A cow that represents the mother divinity. Gowraya  One of the kalimai deities. Grand–Bassin  The sacred lake of Mauritius where the Hindus go on pilgrim-

age to seek sacred water on the occasion or the ceremony of Mahashivratri.

Grand Dimoune  It is the Dhi also called the prince minister. Grande Retraite  Small Village in Flacq District. Grande Rosalie  Former sugar mill which turned into village in the district of

Rivière du Rempart.

Grihastha ashram  Age of conjugal life, the second stage of life. Gros pois  Pea of the course(cape) or butter beans. GRSE  Grande Rivière Sud Est.(Grand River South East). The longest river that

crosses Mauritius from South to East.

Gruau Semolina.

216  Glossary

Gulaiti  Tree whose f lowers are offered to the deities and whose garlands are

also made.

Gumarikaya  Chinese gourd. Hanafi  One of the four schools of Islamic Thought. Hanuman  Divinity considered as the devotee of Ram and Sita. Harparawri  Rite of intercession to Indra to bring the rain. The seven sisters

intercede with Indra so that the rain falls.

Hawan kund  Trepid on which the holy fire is prepared. Hawan  Ritual wherein an oblation or any religious offering given to the God

of Fire.

Hazar  One thousand rupees. Hazari  Someone who owns thousands of rupees. Hindu Maha Sabha  Cultural association of Hindus. Hiranyakshya  King of demons. Hiranyakshyapu  Hiranyakshya’s brother who made great sacrifices day and

night to enable him to become immortal.

Hurhur  Tree on which Kalimai’s sisters sway. This f lower is offered to her Indo Theological Society  Indian Society of Theology. Jamuna  Great sacred river of India. It is a tributary of the Ganges. Jan Andolan  Social movement founded by Basdeo Bissoondoyal before inde-

pendence to raise awareness of Hindus and encourage them to leave their conditions and also teach them how to sign their names so that they can vote. Jhal Kettledrums. Jugni  Servants of the seven sisters who accompany them. Each sister is considered to have 900 servants in the Kalimai. Kabir  Great Indian Poet. Kalash  Clay pot. Kalastapana  Installation of clay pot. Kalemencia  Name once given by the Indians to the village of Clémencia. Kali Mata Mandir  Temple of mother Kali. Kali  Name of the goddess Kali. Kalika Kali. Kalimai  Place of worship of Kali. Kaliyug  Time (era/age) of Kali that refers to its destructive capacity. Kanji  Dinner consisting of saffron rice prepared for mother Kali in the “Amourou Puja” ceremony. Kankar  One of the kalimai deities. Kanwar  Small or large altar prepared during the Mahashivratri ceremony/puja to transport the deities to Grand Bassin. Kappar  Clay pot. Kaptan  Settler in sugar properties. Generally, a white person. Karma  Good or evil deeds. Karo lalo  Place called Valley of the Priests where Kalimai of Caroline is located. The donor planted vegetables on the land where Kalimai is today. Kartikeya  Son of Shiva, created by his third eye. He is also called Muruga or Murugan. Kasaili  Kasaili or supari – known as a betel nut in English – is the walnut of Easter. Kastouri  Divinity present in some Kalimais, including that of M. Parmah.



Katchu  A greenery that grows in the river. Kateri  Tamil divinity, invoked in witchcraft. A kind of black virgin. Ketu  Male divinity associated with Vishnu.“Ketu is the descending or ‘south’

lunar node in Vedic, or Hindu astrology. It is a planet in Indian astrology which has mythological origin and its own history.” Khara  Clay pot. Kobar or Kohbar  It is a room decorated for rituals for newlyweds and a kind of altar for the deity that must be honoured. After marriage Newlyweds enter this room where certain rituals or customs are performed in front of kooldevta or Family god/deity.” Kovil  Tamil Temple. Kovolon Dome. Krishna  Divinity that is one of Vishnu’s reincarnations. Kshatriya  Caste of warriors. Kuccha  Pickle of crushed mangoes which are not yet ripe. Kurma Turtle. Kutchi Meimons  Muslims which are originally from Kutch (Gujrat, India). L’Escalier  Name of a village in the southeast of the island. La Flora  Village in southern Mauritius. La Lucie  Village in the district of Flacq. Laddoo  A sweet dish made of f lour, margarine, sugar and milk; it is served in yellow meatballs because a colouring agent is added. Lakh  One-hundred thousand rupees. Lakhpati  Someone who owns more than one-hundred thousand rupees. Lalita Sahastra  Sacred scripture or book of Telugu people. Lalmatie  Village in the district of Flacq. Lamaury  Small village near Belle-Vue Maurel in Rivière du Rempart. Lawang ke Chak  Crushed cloves whose juice is offered to mother Kali. Lilas Pers  Tree with bitter leaves, which is used as traditional medicine. Lingam  A symbol of divine generative energy especially a phallus or phallic representative of Shiva which is worshipped in temples of Shiva. Lota  Brass pot. Lownri  Body guard or security guard. Luxmi  Luxmi or Laxmi is wife of Vishnu, goddess of prosperity. Madras  Tamils when used in plural. Maha devi  Great goddess Kali. Maha Mai  Great mother Kali. Mahabharat  An edifying and epic story written by the Indian sage Vyas. Mahabir Swami Hanuman. Mahadev  Third deity represented in the triad symbolising Shiva. The other two are Brahma and Vishnu. Mahashivratri  A pilgrimage celebrated each year in the month of February to fetch sacred water from Grand Bassin (lake) and then pour on the Lingam of Shiva. Mama Touké  Kalimai located in the south of the island, known for the benefits that it brings to many followers. Mamzellia  An unmarried woman. Manaye Coolie. Manès   Former sugar mill in the Flacq region.



Mangalam Sutram  Necklace that Telegu women wear around their neck. Mantra  Religious and epic verses. Manu  King of Sages or wisemen. It refers also to the archetypal man or to the

first man on Earth.

Marathi  Immigrants from Indian state Maharashtra whose capital is


Maraz  High caste or Hindu priest. Marazine  Feminine of Maraz. Mare D’albert  Village in the district of Savanne. Mare D’australia  Village in the district of Rivière du Rempart. Marg  Avenue or road. Margoze  Bitter gourd. Mariamen Kovil  Tamil Temple, situated near the port. Masan  Divinité qui se trouve dans l’enceinte de Kalimaï. Matsaya  One of the reincarnations of Vishnu in the form of a fish to save the

world from a ravaging f lood.

Mauritius Sridasan Sadak Pariwar  Organisation that propagates tantric phi-

losophy in Mauritius.

Maya Illusion. MBC  Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation. The radio and television of


MGI  Mahatma Gandhi Institute. Ministre Prince Dhi. MMM  Mauritian Militant Movement. It is one of Mauritius’ independence

political parties.

Moksha  Liberation of the body by the salvation of the soul. Mon Choisy  Beach place in the north of the island. Mont Goût  Village in the district of Pamplemousses, situated not far from the

botanical Garden.

Montagne Longue  One of the suburbs located in the west of Port Louis, also

known as Ward IV.

Moolshsankar  Childhood’s name of Swami Dayanand. Moutaidevelou  Telugu term or word for a married woman. MOW  Ministry of Works. MSM  Mauritian Socialist Movement, a political party. Muni Sage. Muria pahar  Mountain Peter Both. Murti  Figurine or statue. Muru Puja  Ceremony Ritual of worshipping Kali. Muruga  Tamil God also known as Karteikeya. Naivadam  Offering of fruits of sweets. Namaskaram  Good morning greeting (“hi/hello/good morning”) in Telugu. Namasté  Good morning greeting (“hi/hello/good morning”)) in Hindi. Nana Pankankar  A deity of the Kalimai whose status is equivalent to that of

the Dhi.

Narasimha  One of Vishnu’s reincarnations – half man, half lion – that allowed

him to kill Hiranyakashyaspu, the king of demons.

Naw durge  The nine representations or forms of Mother Durga. Naw Sewak Ashram, Tagore Patshala  Cultural organisation situated in




Nawratri  The nine-day Durga goddess ceremony. Neem  Sacred tree of Kalimai. Nitrajan  Shiva in a dance posture. Ojha Sorcerer. Om Namaha Shivaya  Term of plea for Shiva. Om Namaha Shivaya is one of

the most popular Hindu Mantra or chants and the most important mantra in Shaivism. Namaha Shivaya means “O salutations to the auspicious one or to Shiva” or “adoration to Lord Shiva.” Om  “Om or Aum is the syllable, often chanted either independently or before a mantra. It signifies the essence of the ultimate reality consciousness or Atma.” Paisa Money. Palma  Area of Quatre-Bornes. Pamplemousses   District of Mauritius where the botanical garden is found. Pan  Betel leaves. Panch  Five highly respected men from the village who ponder and take decision on important issues in Panchayat. Panchayat  Village Elders – or Panch’s – meeting to discuss local affairs. Pandit  Hindu priest. Panjale  Tamil divinity. Pankar  Divinity of the Kalimai, at the margin, at the bottom and left of the altar. Parmatma  Superior spirit or supreme spirit of God. Parlok  Paradise or other world. Parsadi  Hulled grain or semolina. Parsuram  Another form of Lord Ram or Vishnu. He may be regarded as an incarnation of God Vishnu Parmeshwari  One of the seven sisters of Kali. Parvati  Spouse of Lord Shiva. Patal lok Hell. Père Laval  Priest who became holy and beatified in 1994. He is the object of an annual syncretic worship that gathers baptised Christians, but also the other communities of the island. Pechai  A Tamil divinity. Peter Both  Mountain of Mauritius. Petit Raffray  Village in the locality of North at Rivière du Rempart. Petit Verger  Place called, situated not far from the old mill of Clémencia. Petite Cabanne  Village at Camp de Masque Pavé. Petite Rivière  Located in the west, not far from Port Louis, inhabited mainly by creoles. Phulmatee  One of the sister deities of kalimai. Pipar  Sacred tree also known as the sacred fig. Plaines des Papayes  Important northern village inhabited mainly by northern Indians. Ponga Imposture. Port Louis  Capital of Mauritius. Prabha  Flowered altar with yellow f lowers. Its structure is made of bamboo, like the cavadees in the Thaipoorsam Festival and the kanwars in Mahashivratri. Pradakshina  “Pradakshina” or “Parikrama” refers to circumambulation of sacred places to imbibe their energy in a Hindu religious context, and the path along which this is performed.



Prasadi Offering. PSM  Mauritian Socialist Party, a political party. PTR  Labour Party created by Emmanuel Anquetille, Sir Seewoosagur

Ramgoolam, etc.

Puja  General term for ceremony. Punac  Feed for the cow that replaces the forage. Puranique  Orthodox rite of the Sanatanist Hindus. Puri  An unleavened deep-fried bread made of wheat f lour. Purmessi  Divinity that accepts the pig as an offering. Pusari   Tamil priest. Quatre-Bornes  City of Plaines Wilhems Queen Victoria  Former sugar mill created by FUEL. Radha  Spouse of Krishna. Rahu Puja  Worship of pig. Rajput  Caste of warriors, who in Mauritius, are usually the lower castes. Ram Nawmi  Birth of Ram. Ram  Hero of epic of the Ramayana. Ramayan Ramcharitmanas  Epic of Ramayana written by Tulsidas. Ravana  King of demons who was killed by Ram. Ravived  Lower caste in Mauritius. Riche Mare  Former sugar mill concentrated on Constance, now a village. Rig Veda  One of the four old and sacred canonical texts of Hinduism known as

the Vedas. Rigveda is a collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns along with associated commentaries on liturgy, ritual and mystical exegesis. Ripailles  Village, situated in St Pierre of Moka district. Rivière des Anguilles  Village in Savanne district. Rivière des Galets  Place situated at Chemin Grenier in Savanne district. Rivière du Rempart  Name of the district. Roches Noires  Village in Rivière du Rempart district. Rose Belle  Sugar company and name of a village. Rose–Hill  City of Plaines Wilhems. Roti  Roti is a round f latbread native to the Indian subcontinent prepared from stoneground wholemeal f lour called atta. Sabha Association. Sad Guru  Real teacher or guide. Saheb  Name given to a white (person) in ancient times/during colonial period. Saher  Divinity associated with Dhi in kalimai. Saï Baba  Saint of reference to the cults of the same name who lives in India in the Bangalore region in the South of India, Tirupati. He’s supposed to perform miracles and he is worshipped for his healing talents. Saint Pierre  A village in Moka District. Sama Veda  Third book of the Vedas which focuses on the learning of incantation rhythms of verses written in Sanskrit. Samdhi  Father of daughter-in-law/son-in-law in relation to the son’s/ daughter’s father/mother. Same  Divinity of Kalimai associated with Dhi. Sanatan Dharma Federation  Federation of Sanatanist Hindus. Sanatanist  Those who practice the Puranic rites. Sandal  Incense.



Sankarâchârya  Philosopher who developed the Mayan philosophy. The illu-

sion is given symbolically by the formula “One in several” applied to the notion of the divine. Sanskrit  One of the old languages of the world and language of Indian sages. Santoshi   Another form of Durga. Saraswati   Goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom and learning. Sari   Clothing in the shape of a drape, worn by Indian women. Satyarth Prakash  Book on the light of truth, written by Swami Dayanand. Satya Sanatan Sabha  Association of Truth. Savannah  Southern District of Mauritius. But also, village and former sugar mill. Sébastopol  Village in the region of Montagne Blanche. Sewa Shivir  Social and cultural Organisation, founded by Swami Krishnanand. Now called the Human Service Trust. Sevika  Female servant. Shakti  Energy, vital f low. Shanti Peace. Sheshnag  Divinity snake. Shia  Sect in Islam of Muslims who regard Ali, son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, as the first Caliph. A sect of Islam, Muslims of Iran, Afghanistan etc. are called “Shia.” Shiva shankar  Lord Shiva. Shiva  The destructor. Shivala  Temple of Shiva. Shri Rama Mandiram  Name of the temple of Telugus at Camp de Masque Pavé. Shri Vinayagar Sidaram Kovil  Tamil Temple situated at La Louise à Quatre-Bornes. Shrimadrapana puja  Ceremony of Telugus. Sindoor  Vermilion, coloured powder. Sirdar  Supervisor in sugar plantations. Sita  Wife of Ram. Sitla  Goddess, prayed by people who have a skin disease formed of spots like those of measles. SMF  Special Mobile Force. Smriti  Sacred book of Hinduism. Soma ras  A special drink for Gods similar to alcoholic beverage, consumed by many, not only Shiva. Soufi  Mystic Muslim or the one who follows Sufism. Souni Hanafi  The Sunni Muslims are normally Hanafi – that is, they accept the Hanafi Thought school. Souni  The vast majority of Muslims in the world are Sunnis. Muslims who consider Abu Akbar as the first Caliph of Islam are Sunnis. Of the 17%, 14% are in Mauritius. Sourti  Successful business Muslims hailed from Surat(India) to Mauritius. St Julien D’hotman  Village in the district of Moka. Sudra  Lower caste. Surya  Sun who is also considered as God. Suta  Holy thread. Swami Dayanand  Founder of Arya Samaj.

222  Glossary

Swami  A kind of religious guru who has totally renounced material life to

devote oneself entirely to the spiritual life.

Tabisman  Sugar estate. Tali  Finger ring of the foot worn by a married woman among the Telugus or


Tamoul  Immigrants from south India (especially Tamil speakers). Tan Man Dan  The body, the heart, the wealth. Tantrique Sidhiyon  Sacred book. Taverne Bistro. Telugu  Indians from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Tikka  Red dot, applied on forehead by married women. Young girls wear a

black dot.

Tinkonia Crossroad. Tranquebar  Location in the suburbs of Port Louis. Triolet  Village of Pamplemousses situated in North of the Island. Trou D’eau Douce  Fishermen’s Village in East of Flacq District. Tulsi  An aromatic perennial plant which we pray and worship by pouring

water and which represents a mother deity, wife of Vishnu.

Tulsidas  Name of the writer and poet of Ramcharitmanas. Tyack  Village in the south situated in the Grand-port district. Uderi Kateri  Divinity associated with witchcraft. Udrayan  Tamil goddess. Uma  Wife of Shiva. Union Flacq  Former sugar mill. Upanishad Sacred book of the Hindu religion:  different from the Vedas, this

book opens to the knowledge of Brahma, considered the Supreme God. It contains, a summary of the principles of the four sacred books of the Vedas: overcoming of fear before death, educational values, etc. Utsawamurti  Festival of the idols. Vacoas  Town of Plaines Wilhems. Vaish  Caste of farmers and storekeepers. Vaisha Sabha  Association of caste Vaish. Vaishnavaite  Followers of Vishnu. Vaivasta Sage. Vallée des Prêtres  Village located in lower areas or in the valley of Peter Both Mountain, also called Chitrakoot by the Pandit Basdeo Bissoondoyal by reference to the poet Tulsidas. Valmiki  Writer and Poet of Ramayana. Vamana  Form of Vishnu who is dwarf. Veda  Sacred book of Hinduism. Vedic  Rituals of Veda or things related to Veda. Vedic civilisation. Vishnu Chetra Mandir  Temple of Vishnu, situated in Port Louis, on Saint Denis Street. Vishnu  Represented in the triad of deities – Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh – the one whose function is to preserve/save the universe. Vishwa Shanti Ashram   World Movement for Peace. Vishwakarma  Sanskrit term that means creating the universe, meaning “God of technology and machinery,” that is why we worship him in Vishwakarma puja.



Vrijanand  Guru of Swami Dayanand. Yaj  Ceremony for the God of Fire. Yajur Veda  Fourth Sacred Book of the Vedas, oriented on the system of value

for children’s education and based on respect due to parents.

Yantra  Symbol of Gods. Zero depot  Action of buying an object on credit and with interest without

giving any deposit.


Adda, J. 1998. ‘La Mondialisation de L’Economie.’ Genèse et problèmes (3e édition). Paris: La découverte. Allen, R. 1983. ‘Creoles, Indian immigrants and the restructuring of society and economy in Mauritius, 1767–1885’, PhD thesis, University of Illinois – Urbana. Allen, R. 1989. ‘Economic marginality and the rise of the free population of color in Mauritius, 1767–1830’, Slavery and Abolition, 10(2), p. 350. Allen, R. 1991. ‘Lives of neither luxury nor misery: Indians and the free-colored marginality on the île de France, 1728–1810’, Outre-Mers. Revue d'histoire, 78(292), pp. 337–358. Allen, R. 1999. Slaves, Freedom and Indentured Labourers in Colonial Mauritius African Studies. Cambridge University Press. Allen, R. 2001. ‘Indian immigrants and the restructuring of the Mauritian sugar industry, 1848–1910’, Journal of Mauritian Studies: New Series, 1(1), pp. 58–74. MGI Moka Mauritius. Allen, R. Under press. ‘Passing through a perilous transition: Capital, labour and the transformation of the Mauritius colony, 1810–1860’. Arno, T. and Orian, C. 1986. Ile Maurice, une société multiraciale. Paris: Harmattan. Babb, L. A. 1975. The Divine Hierarchy: Popular Hinduism in Central India. New York: Columbia University. Balandier, G. 1980. Le grand dérangement. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Balandier, G. 2000. ‘Le pouvoir sur scènes’, Paris, Balland, 1980; nouv. Ed. Augmentée 1992 (trad. Brésilienne, espagnole, roumaines, japonaise avec édition de poche (2000). Balandier, G. 2003. Civilisés, dit-on. Paris: PUF (trad. Arabe). Brookfield, H. C. 1958. ‘Pluralism and geography in Mauritius’, Geographical Studies, 44, pp. 142–143. Carter, M. 1992. ‘Strategies of labour mobilization in colonial India: The recruitment of Indian workers for Mauritius’, Journal of Peasant Studies, 19(3), p. 239. Carter, M. 1995. Servants, sirdars and settlers Indians in Mauritius, 1834–1874. New Delhi: OUP. Carter, M. 1996. Voices from indentured: Experiences of Indian migrants in the British empire. London: Leicester University Press. 



Carter, M. and Deerpsalsing, S. 1996. ‘Select documents on Indian immigration 1834– 1926; organization and evaluations of indenture system’, Mauritius’ Moka. Mahatma Gandhi Institute. Chazan-Gillig, S. 1996. ‘Migrations et Formes de Développement: Iles et Continents de sud-ouest de l’océan Indien’, Actes du Séminaire organisé par l’ODR, Institut Austral de Démographie. Chazan-Gillig, S. 1998. ‘Ethnicité et Libre Echange dans la société de L’île Maurice’, In - L’Illusion Identitaire. Vol 130, L’Homme et la Société. Chazan-Gillig, S. 2000. ‘Ethnicity and free exchange in Mauritian society’, Social Anthropology, 8(1), pp. 33–44. Chazan-Gillig, S. 2004a. ‘The roots of Mauritian multi-culturalism and the birth of a new social contract: “Being autochone”, being creole’, Journal of Mauritian Studies New Series, 2(1), p. 77. Chazan-Gillig, S. 2004b. « Idéologies de la mondialisation à l’île Maurice » In- EuropeAsie : 17ème au 19ème siècles . Marchés, Echanges, éthique. Coll. Les Indes savantes, pp. 371–384. Chazan-Gillig, S. and Widmer, I. 2001. ‘Circulation migratoire et délocalisation industrielles à L’île Maurice’, Sociétés Contemporaines, (3), pp. 81–122. Christopher, A. J. 1969. ‘A study in colonial land settlement’, PhD thesis, University of Natal. Christopher, A. J. 1992. ‘Ethnicity, community and the census in Mauritius, 1830–1990’, Geographical Journal, 158(1) (Mar., 1002 ), p. 60. Colson, D. 1983. ‘L’Eglise à l’île Maurice (1840–1895). Une église en île de France’, Thèse de 3ème cycle sous la direction du Professeur Jean-Marie Mayeur. 2 tomes. 700 p. Crook, W. 2005. Popular Religion and Folklore of Northern India. Reprint. New Delhi: Rupa & Co. Deerpalsing, S., Ng, J., Covinden, V., and Teeluck, V. 2001. Labour Immigrants in Mauritius. MGI, Moka: Republic of Mauritius, Mahatma Gandhi Institute. Dinan, M. 1985. Une Ile Eclatée : Analyse de L’Emigration Mauricienne 1960–1982. Port Louis: Best Graphics Ltd. Dumont, L. 1970. Homo Hierarchicus: Essai sur le système de castes. Paris: NRF, Bibliothèque des Sciences Humaines, Gallimar. Eisenlohr, P. 2006. Little India. Diaspora time and ethnolinguistic belonging in Hindu Mauritius. Berkeley, CA. University of California Press. Foucault, M. 1997. ‘Il faut défendre la société. Cours au Collège de France. 1976’, Coll. Hautes Etudes. Gallimard; Seuil. Fuller, C. J. 1979. ‘Gods, priests and purity: On the relation between Hinduism and the caste system’, Man, 14, pp. 459–476. Fuller, C. J. 1980. ‘The divine couple’s relationship in a South Indian temple: Minakshi and Sundarésvara at Madurai’, History of Religions, 19, pp. 321–348. Fuller, C. J. 1984. Servants of the goddess: The priests of a South Indian temple. Cambridge University Press, UK. Fuller, C. J. 1987. ‘Sacrifice (Bali) in the South Indian temple’, in V. Sudarsen, G. Prakesh Reddy, and M. Suryanarayana (Eds.), Religion and society in South India. New Delhi: B.R. Publishing, Pp 225. Fuller, C. J. 1988. ‘The Hindu temple and Indian society’, in M. V. Fox (Ed.), Temple in society Winona Lake. Penn State University Press, USA, p. 89. Fuller, C. J. 1992. The camphor flame. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, USA, p. 56. Grégoire, E. 2007. ‘L’île Maurice dans l’œil du cyclone’, Autrepart, Autre part 2007 (41), pp. 125–141.

226  Bibliography

Grotius, H. 1604. « De Ure Praedae. Mare librum » Jahangeer-Chojoo, A. 1998. ‘La Communauté Musulmane de Port Louis: Une Etude de Géographie Sociale’, Thèse de Doctorat, Bordeaux III, 336 p. Jumeer, M. 1984. ‘Les affranchis et les Indiens au 18ème siècle 1721–1803’, Thèse de 3ème cycle à l’université de Poitiers. Lamusse, R. 1964. ‘The economic development of the Mauritius sugar industry’, Revue Agricole et Sucrière de l’île Maurice, 43, pp. 356–358. Marseille, J. 1984. Empire colonial et capitalisme français : histoire d’un divorce. Paris: Albin Michel. Collection Points. Moulier-Boutang, Y. 1998. De l’esclavage au salariat : économie historique du salariat bridé. Paris. PUF. Nicolaï, A. 1998. ‘Logique du système et raison instrumentale’, in A. Levy and A. Nicolaï (Eds.), La résistible emprise de la rationalité instrumentale. Sous la Direction de Florence GiustDesprairies. Paris: Eska, p. 255. North Coombes, A. 1937. The history of Indians in Natal. Cape Town: Peepal tree Press. North Coombes, A. 1993. ‘The evolution of sugar cane in Mauritius: Port Louis, 1937, 2nd edition published as a history of sugar in mauritius’, Rose-Hill. North Coombes, F. 1993. Mes champs et mon moulin: Les Réminiscences de Robert Weller, 1901–1944, 2nd edition. Mauritius: Rose-Hill. North Coombes, M. D. 1980. ‘Slavery, emancipation and the labour crisis in the sugar industry of Mauritius, 1790–1842’, Durban, unpublished paper. North Coombes, M. D. 1987. ‘Struggles in the Cane fields: Small Cane Growers, Millers and Colonial State in Mauritius, 1921–1937’, Journal of Mauritian Studies, 2, pp. 1–44. North Coombes, M. D. 2000. ‘Studies in the political economy of Mauritius, 1834–1910: Essays on indentured Indian in Natal’, Bhana. Patureau, M. 1988. Histoire économique de l’île Maurice. Les Pailles: Press Henry and Cie Ltd. Pineo, H. L. T. F. 1984. Lured away: The life history of Indian cane workers in Mauritius. MGI, Moka, Mauritius: Presses du Mahatma Gandhi Institute. Pineo, H. L. T. F. 1999. ‘Fortifications à l’île de France au Temps de la Compagnie des Indes’, Cahiers de la Compagnie des Indes No. 4. Rouillard, G. 1964–79. Histoire des domaines sucriers de l’île Maurice. Port Louis, Mauritius: General Print and Stationery Co. Sooriamoorthy, R. 1977. Tamoules à L’île Maurice. Port Louis, Mauritius. Teeluck, V. 1998. The bitter sugar and slavery in 19th century Mauritius. Moka, Mauritius: MG press. Tinker, H. 1974. A new system of slavery: The export of Indian labour overseas, 1830–1920. London: Oxford University Press. Tittmus, R. and Abel Smith, B. 1961. ‘Social policies and population growth in Mauritius’, Mauritius Sessional Paper No. 6 by Authority of the Legislative Council. London, Frank Cass and Co. Ltd. Widmer, I. 2005. La Réunion et l’île Maurice : parcours de deux îles australes des origines au XXème siècle. Paris: Cahiers de l’INED.


**Page numbers in bold reference tables. **Page numbers in italics reference figures. 1980s, memorials 41–46 abolition of slavery 10, 24 agni moksha 72 agricultural entrepreneurs 22 agricultural policy, Chemin Cemetière 126–127 The Agricutural Company of Mauritius Limited 146 Agwan 152 Ahirs 187 Allen, R. 13–14, 18–19 Almanach, M. 180 Amba 92 amourou puja 56, 61, 77–78, 124, 140 Anassamy 61 anteyesthi 58 Antoinette sugar estate 11, 44 apprentices 12 Apravassi Ghat 42, 46–49, 52 Arlanda, H. 61 Armoudon, A. 61 Arya Prachini Ravived Sabha 192 Aryamandir temple 76 Aryasamaj 75, 194 Aryasamajist 120 Ashootosh Hindu Temple 197

Association of Mauritian Sugar Producers (MSPA) 30 Auba 92 Baboojees/Marazs 64, 175, 201n8; rivalry 186–188 baharia puja 67, 75, 129, 140, 145 Baïtkas 68 bank notes, Tamil protests 42 bankruptcy, Reetoo, D. 185, 186 Barosu Kateri 99 Beauvallon 182; mutuations of the grounds 172; parcelling of lands 205–209 Beauvallon Fabre (1893), parcelling of properties 203–204 Bel Ombre sugar company 1 Bharat family 195 Biharis 41 Bois Piolet 65 Bollom Salute 199 Bon Accueil 61, 195–196 Bon Espoir 61, 64, 195 Boolell, A. 125 Boolell Minister 125 bottom-up approach 3 Boutique Joseph see Kalimai of Boutique Joseph

228 Index

Brahma (Baram) 4, 92–95, 112, 116–117, 138, 144–145, 151, 158–161 Brahmachari 120 Brahmins 57 buffer zone 47, 50, 52 Camp de Masque 160, 171, 173, 189–190 Camp de Masque Pavé 173; Kalimai of Beauvallon 105–109 Caroline of the Vallee des Pretres 68 caste differentiation, Hindu religion 54 caste status 64 castes 20, 178, 186, 189; versus ethnics 55–59; Petite Cabanne 133–134 Catholic Mauritians 37 Catholics 155 celibacy 94 central market of Port Louis 2 Chand Biswas 163 Chatam 152 chawtari 88 Chazan-Gillig, S. 3, 77, 83n71 Chelombrom, V. 165 Chemin Cemetière 124–126, 178; agricultural policy 126–127; rituals and internal tensions 127–130; symbolic rites 130–133 Chinese 12 Chtrakoot 68 class differences, Dhi 90–91 Clémencia 61, 64, 175; mutuation of the land of the mills 174; parcelling of properties (1937) 208–209 Clémencia Hermitage 173 clothes for ceremony 113 collective appropriation 192 colonisation 1, 8 colour barriers 17 coloured people 11, 87 coloured population 68 commemorative stele, coolies 42 Commonwealth 16, 26 competition, among Hindu planters 181 constituent duality 8–12 Consumers Cooperative Societies (CCS) 148 Coolie Ghat 42, 48 coolies 10–11, 41, 48, 49, 135; commemorative stele 42; memorials 42–43 coolie-trade 21, 23 “coolitude” 49 Cooperative Bank of Mauritius 149 cooperative movements, Kalimai of Boutique Joseph 147–149

Cooperative Society of Production and Consumption (CCS) 147 core zone 51 cows 128 Credit Foncier 182 Credit Foncier of Mauritius Ltd. 134 Creole identity, displacement of 13–18 Creole Indians 64 Creole Island 15 Creole world 26, 47 Creoles 10, 13; displacement of 13–15; endogamous marriage 20; interbreeding 156 Creoles of Mauritius 15 Creolisation 14–16 Crève-Cœur 68 cults/worship 3–4; reinvention of cults 53–55 Curepipe 46 dairy farming, Chemin Cemetière 128 Dayal, Commander 160, 196 de Labourdonnai, M. 9, 45 debt, land accumulation 184 deities: Brahma (Baram) see Brahma; Devi 55, 112; Dhi see Dhi; Ganesha 166–167; Gowraya 117–118, 131, 157; Hanuman 4, 54, 112; Kali see Kali; Kalimai of l’Unité 150–152; Mahabir Swami see Mahabir Swami; Shiva 138, 158–161, 166–167; Sitla 117–118, 152, 158; social differences 90–92 demo-economic revolutions 14 development ideology 184–186 Devi 55, 112 Devi Maï 120 dewassia 39 Dhi 4, 55, 90–94, 114–118, 131, 135, 138, 147 Dhi-Saher duality 109, 115–116 displacement of Creole identity 13–18 disruption of white society 18–20 divinities, Kalimai of l’Unité 151 domestic capital 22, 24 Draupadi 57 Draupadi amen 55 duality 13, 26; Dhi-Saher 115–116 duality of constituents 8–12 Dubois, A. 172 Dumont, L. 81n40, 118 Durga 55, 57, 92, 138–139 Dutch period 8 Duval, G. 29, 68



East India Company 1, 2, 8–9 economic differences, kalimai mills and temples 177–180 economic miracle 29 economic success, Kalimai of Boutique Joseph 145–147 Ekadassi 76 emancipated, erasure of 24 emblematic representations of Mauritius 28–31 endogamous marriage 20 English colonisation 14, 25 English period 10 English trading houses 25 Enguerrand, L. 134 entrepreneurial elite, Moka/Flacq district 180–181 ethnic composition of districts where Tamils were elected as parliamentarians 45 ethnicity 45 ethnics, versus castes 55–59 European planters 61

God Bhagwan 97 goddesses 98 Gowraya 117–118, 131, 157 Gowraya-Sitla 109 Grand Baie district 44 great fragmentation 62, 67 Guajarati 12 Gujadhur, R. 108, 146, 165, 182, 187

Fabre, A. 106 Fabre family, Kalimai of Beauvallon at Camp de Masque Pavé 105–106 family kalimais 147–148 family relationships 93 family secrets 20 Father Laval 54–55, 146 fieldwork 3–4 financial pressure, Moka/Flacq district 183–184 Flacq region 200–201; see also Moka/ Flacq district Flacq United Estate Limited (FUEL) 46, 69, 76, 108–109, 155, 171, 179, 196 former slave society 18 Fourtis 12 Franco-Mauritians 17 free people of colour 9–10; erasure of 24; land accumulation 18–19 French colonisation 14 French period 8–9; historical monuments 46 French-Mauritians 24 French-Tamil 59 FUEL see Flacq United Estate Limited

ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) 27, 30, 52 IFB (Indepent Forward Bloc) 76 Île-de-France 8–9, 15, 17, 26, 42, 59 immigration, Indian immigrants 10–12 indebtedness 88–89; Kalimai Verger of Clémencia 88–89 indentured labour 10–11, 21–23; memorials 52–53 independence process, Brahma (Baram) 94–95 Independent Forward Bloc (IFB) 76 Indian immigrants 10–12, 173, 174 Indian women, Petite Cabanne 136 Indians 12–14, 42; castes versus ethnics 55; land accumulation 18–20 Indo-Mauritians 12, 14–15, 18, 24, 38, 64, 83n66, 87 Indo-Muslims 12 Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) 27 inquiry/survey: corpus of 71–73; researchers 73–75 Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS) 47 integration, Petite Cabanne 134–135 interbreeding 21, 156 Investment Resort Scheme (IRS) 30 IRS (Investment Resort Scheme) 30, 47

Ganesha 166–167 general population 11–18, 42, 155; indentured labour 21 globalisation 25–27 goats 128 Goburdhun, J. 186

Hanuman 4, 54, 112; see also Mahabir Swami Hanuman-Brahma 109 herbicides 128 heritage sites 47; Apravassi Ghat 47–49; Morne Brabant 49–52 Hermitage mill 172 Hindu community 13, 47 Hindu cults 3 Hindu planters, competition amongst 181 Hindu religion 38, 55; caste differentiation 54; temples 63, 64, 66–67 Hindu world 26 Hunter and Arbutnot and Co 11 Hurday, R. 147

jatis 58 Jeewoolall, R. 186

230 Index

Jhaakandinath Mandir of Lallmatie 194 Jumeer, M. 8 Kali 5, 55, 97–98, 114, 119–120; ambiguity of 98–100; Kalimai of Beauvallon at Camp de Masque Pave 110–112; Kalimai Verger of Clémencia 87–88; Petite Cabanne 137–138; seven sisters 54; Tamil temples 164 Kalika 92 Kalimai of Beauvallon at Camp de Masque Pavé 105–109; Brahma (Baram) 116–117; Dhi 114–116; Gowraya-Sitla 117–118; Kali 109; Mahabir Swami 116–117; modernisatioin 110–113; production and statutory differentiations 119–121; Saher 115–116; symbolic aspects of 113–116; see also Camp de Masque Pavé Kalimai of Boutique Joseph 143–144, 178–179; Brahma (Baram) 144–145, 158–159; division of large plantations 148–149; family kalimais 147–148; founders of 147; symbolism of economic success 145–147; temples 149–150 Kalimai of Caroline 68 Kalimai of Chemin Cimitiëre see Chemin Cemetiere Kalimai of l’Unité 150–152; Brahma (Baram) 158–161; desertion of 150– 155; organisation of since displacement after Hurricane Carol 152–155; Shiva 158–161; significance of religious changes 155–158; Sitla 158; temples 161–169 Kalimai of Petit Verger 174 Kalimai of Petite Cabanne 75, 133– 135; collective relationship to the land 135–137; religious meaning of statutory differences 137–140; temples 140–141; see also Petite Cabanne Kalimai of Royal Road 177; see also Royal Road Kalimai of Vallée des Prêtes 162; see also Vallée des Prêtres Kalimai Verger of Clémencia 75, 85–86, 109; fragmentation of property 88–89; installation of kalimai 86–88; modernisatioin 89–90; privatisation 95– 98; symbolic differentiation 92; symbolic function of Brahma 94–95; symbolic function of deities 90–91; trilogy of Dhi,

Brahma and Mahabir Swami 92–94; see also Clémencia kalimais 3, 4, 54–56, 58 kalimata 121 Kankar 92 karma 4, 72, 173 Kateree 56 “Kaya affair” 45 Kaylasson Temple 65, 68 Kovil Soopramanian 38–39 kovil temples 64 Koyrees 187 Kshatryas 57 Kutcthi Meimons 12 La Caroline 62 Labour Party (PTR) 29, 71, 145, 175 Lallmatie, places of worship 190–195 land accumulation of Indians 18–20 land fragmentation 136, 182, 200 land pressure, Moka/Flacq district 183–184 large/small planters 71; internal solidarity 181–183 Laval, P. 54, 81n36, 145, 151–152, 155–156 Laxmi 145 Le Morne 47 Leclezio, H. 108, 165, 181 Limited Liability Company (LLC) 71 Little India 7 local domestic capital 24 Lucie Roy 200 L’Unite, parcelling of properties (1937) 208–209 L’Unite of Camp de Masque 143, 146, 172–173 Luxmi 111–112 Mahabir Swami 54–55, 92–94, 116–117, 139; see also Hanuman Mahadev Baba 159, 179 Mahashivratree 67, 75 Mahavir Swami 138 Malabars 9 mandup, Kalimai of Beauvallon at Camp de Masque Pavé 112 Manjra 152 Maraz 201n8 Mare Zacot see Royal Road marginal lands 64 marriage 20 Maure, A. 16 Mauritian f lag 113 Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) 44–45


Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) 16, 108 Mauritius Partnership Property 47 Mauritius Planters Association (MPA) 30 MCB (Mauritius Commercial Bank) 16, 108 memorials 52–53; 1980s 41–46; Rose Hill 42–44; see also temples mestizo (mixed race) 20; see also Creoles middle men 182 mills, economic differences 177–180 MMM (Mauritian Militant Movement) 44–45 modernisation: Kalimai of Beauvallon at Camp de Masque Pave 110–113; Kalimai Verger of Clemencia 89–90 Moka/Flacq district: competition among Hindu planter 181; entrepreneurial elite 180–181; financial and land pressure 183–184; social differentiation 184–186; Vaishs/Baboojees rivalry 186–188 Mon Loisir 66 Montagne Longue 68 Montocchio, P. 181–182 Morne Brabant 46–47, 49–53 moulin cassé of Beauvallon 136 moulin de la Concorde 45 Mount area 61 Mount Rocer S. E. Co Ltd. 61 MPA (Mauritius Planters Association) 30 MSM party 186 MSPA (Association of Mauritian Sugar Producers) 30 mulattoes 10, 14, 17, 20 Muslim community 13 namkaran 58 “negritude” 49 new social segmentations 176–177 Newly Industrialised Country (NIC) 1, 7 Nishkama karma 4 North-Coombs, A. 62 oath of allegiance 15 “old migrants” 12, 19, 22, 64, 66, 173 ownership lands of Tamil families 60, 61 Pamplemousses 70 Pamplemousses S.E. Co Ltd. 61 Pancham 152 Panchayat 56, 81n39 parcelling of properties: Beauvallon (1914) 205–207; Beauvallon Fabre (1893)


203–204; Unité, Clemencia, and Beauvallon (1937) 208–209 participant observation 73, 75–78 Parvati 92 Peeroo, Mr. 134–135, 147–148 people of colour 12–14, 32n20; land accumulation 18–20; see also mulattoes Père Laval 156–157 Petit Verger 69 Petite Cabanne 5, 69, 102, 124–125, 133 Phuliar 66 Phulmatee 92 pigs, Chand Biswas 163 Pitchen, D. 61 places of worship 188–189; Bon Accueil 195–196; Camp de Masque 189–190; Lallmatie 190–195; Saint Julien d’Hotman 196–200 PMSD (Social Democratic Mauritian Party) 29 Pocock, D. 114 Poivre, P. 56 population 7, 11, 12, 13 Port Louis 2, 9, 10, 46; memorials 43 private kalimai, Kalimai Verger of Clémencia 95–98 privatisation 101 production differentiations, Kalimai of Beauvallon at Camp de Masque Pavé 119–121 property: acquired by Indians in Clemencia, l’Unité and Camp de Masque 183; Kalimai Verger of Clémencia 88–89 PTR see Labour Party puja 133 pujari 39 puranic rite 120 purity 94 Purusha Sukta 57 Queen Victoria 56 Radhey, S. 135 raha puja 102 Rajputs 57, 127–130, 175, 178 Ram 94 Rama, T. 61 Ramgoolam, S. 29, 46, 177 Ramhota, P. 52, 76 Raviveds 57, 127–130, 175, 178 Reetoo, D. 184–185 Reetoo family 180–182, 185, 193, 196, 198 reinvention of cults 53–55 relationships 177

232 Index

religion 53 religious associations 69–70 religious changes, Kalimai of l’Unité 155–158 religious sites, re-foundation of 176–177 representations of Mauritius 28–31 researchers, inquiry/survey 73–75 Riga Veda 57, 81n40 Rose Hill 42–44 Rouillard, G. 106 Roy, S. 200 Roy family 200 Royal Road 124–125, 137 sacrifices 102, 174; Kalimai of l’Unité 154, 157 saheb 90 Saher 114–116, 138 Saint Julien d’Hotman 188, 196–200 Saint Julien’s village 200 sakti 121 Sanatan Dharma Mandir Parishad (SDMP) 193 Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation (SDTF) 157, 190, 193–194 Sanatanists 84n74, 130 Saraswati 92, 111–112, 138–139 Sériès, É. 165, 179 seven sisters 53–54, 93, 173; ambiguity of Kali 98–100; Kalimai of Beauvallon at Camp de Masque Pavé 113; Kalimai of l’Unité 151 Shiva 138, 158–161, 166–167 Shiva-Kali couple 166 Shivala temple 65, 161, 179 Shiva-Parvati couple 166 Shri Rama Mandiram 75 sindoor 69, 88, 120 Sino-Mauritian 13 sirdar 22–23, 57 Sirdar Radhe 177 Sitla 117–118, 152, 158 slave farming model 9 slavery 21–22; abolition of 10, 24; memorials 52–53; see also indentured labour small fragmentation 14, 19 small Indian plantations 122 SMF (Special Mobile Force) 159 social continuity, Petite Cabanne 133–135 Social Creolisation 17, 33n30 Social Democratic Mauritian Party (PMSD) 29 social differences, symbolic function of deities 90–91

social differentiation 23–25, 89, 92, 134–135, 172–176 social division, Kalimai of l’Unité 161–163 social networks, Moka/Flacq district 184–186 social ordering 58 social organisation, kalimais 4 social resetting 16 social segmentation 41, 58, 176–177, 188–189 social structuring, castes 57 Sokkalingam Meenakshiamman Kaylasson 68 solidarity, large/small planters 181–183 spatial differentiations, Brahma (Baram) 94–95 Special Mobile Force (SMF) 159 stamps, emblematic representations of Mauritius 28–29 statute of limitations 103n18 statutory differentiations: Kalimai of Beauvallon at Camp de Masque Pavé 119–121; Kalimai Petite Cabanne 137–140 sugar development 38 sugar plantation economy 1 Sugar Protocol 30 Sunni 12 survey/inquiry: corpus of 71–73; researchers 73–75 Swaraj Bhawan 195 symbolic differentiation, Kalimai Verger of Clémencia 92 symbolic rites, Chemin Cemetière 130–133 symbolism, historical forms of 40–41 syncretism 54 Taipoorsam cavadee 67 Taïpoorsum Cavadee 68 Tamil protests 42 Tamil temples 39, 198 Tamils 2, 19, 57, 59; ethnic composition of districts where Tamils were elected as parliamentarians 45; first owners 60; Kateree 56; memorials 41–43; temples 59–63, 65–67, 163–169 Tamils of South India 38 Tancrel, A. 173 Teeluck, V. 8 Teeluck family 181, 195-196 Telfair, C. 21, 61 Telugus 38


temples 59–67, 101–102, 188; economic differences 177–180; founding of 72; Hindu religion 63, 64, 66–67; Kalimai of Boutique Joseph 149–150; Kalimai of l’Unité 161–169; kovil temples 64; Petite Cabanne 140–141; social differentiation 172–176; Tamil temples 65–67, 198 Terre Rouge 61, 62, 64, 65 Tiger of the Indian Ocean 7 ti-nation 167 Tinker, H. 21–22 tontines 58, 121 tourism 45–46 trading houses of England 25 Treaty of Paris (1814) 10 Triolet 62, 83n67 Triple Esperance 2 Trou d’Eau Douce 20 Tulsi Mandir 197 The Union Facq Sugar Estate Company Limited 146, 181 Union-Flacq 109 unitary principle 101


Vaish Mukti Sangh movement 186 Vaishs 57, 64, 175; rivalry 186–188 Vallée des Prêtres 68, 76–78, 161 varnas 57–58 Vedic religion 94 Vedics 130 Vishnu Chetra Mandir of Saint Denis Street 68 Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) 46 white society, disruption of 18–20 Whites 182 whites, Kalimai of Beauvallon at Camp de Masque Pave 106–107 widows 113; witchcraft 87 witchcraft 87, 158 women: Petite Cabanne 136–137; role of 120–121 World Site Heritage 49–51 worship sites 188–189; Bon Accueil 195–196; Camp de Masque 189–190; Lallmatie 190–195; Saint Julien d’Hotman 196–200 Zone Franche (Free Zone) 26