THE IMPLICATIONS OF INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE WITH HINDUISM An Analysis of the Pont-Praslin Interreligious Dialogue Centre, Mauritius
PRUDENCE, JOSEPH LELIO
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The Motivation for Choosing This Topic Mauritius has a population of about. one million two hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants. Fifty eight percent of the inhabitants are Hindus, fourteen percent are Muslims and twenty-eight percent are Christians. People of different ethnic group and religions meet in the street, at work and some in places of pilgrimage (examples Grand Bassin and the sanctuary of blessed Father Laval). Mixed marriages' are increasing. We have awarded ourselves titles such as "La nation arc en ciel" ("The rainbow nation") and -the multiracial, multiethnic and multicultural country." Experiences show that we are still a juxtaposition of ethnic groups rather than a united nation. In February 1999, because of the death of a Creole singer -Kaye, war broke out between Hindus and Creoles. Three persons were killed. Police stations were destroyed and houses burnt. Many people feared of a new racial war like in 1960-1968. After this event many people lack confidence in the persons of other ethnic groups and religions. Now we can hear people saying: -never again such a situation like February 1999." These situations show that we have to make an effort to understand and know each other better. We have to overcome our prejudices. We are confronted with a situation that should be altered. N:B. Mixed marriage is used in the Mauritian context to define a marriage between two persons of different faith. The term is not restricted to marriage between two Christians of different Churches as in the Code of Canon Law. 1 However. on the 30 September 2303. Mr Pau! Beremzer, was the first Creole to become the prime minister of Mauritius.2 From the independence of Mauritius (12th March 1968) up to 2003. the prime minister of that island has always been a Hindu from the Vaish caste.3 This is a sign of hope. Our is:and Mauritius that appears to visitors as the 'star and the key of the Indian Ocean' is gradually becoming a point of encounter where European, African and Asian civilisati )n collaborate to create a new homeland and build our destiny in accord. This situation is part of the design of the Divine Providence calling Mauritians to replace the climate of suspicion and fear by an atmosphere of understanding and dialogue.