Spain is acknowledged as one of the paragons of the Christian religion in the European Union. There is a percentage of the population that practices other religions in the country and amongst them is the Indian community.
Only about 30,000 Indians are currently found in the country and nearly all of them practice Hinduism. As travelers from Africa, they were traders and shopkeepers thriving in free ports of the Canary Islands and Tenerife as Spain was blockaded for allying with the Axis powers under Mussolini. When Ceuta and Melilla were declared as free ports, Indian businessmen set up trading houses and retail shops for the tourist trade of the area.
With the growing business influence in Spain, the religious practices of Indians continued to flourish. Spain for its part has an estimated 25,000 Hindus practicing one of the three Hinduism sects in the country. Because of business, the Ceuta and Melilla business moved more to the urban centers of the country, such as the port cities of Malaga and Barcelona. Another major hub for Indian business was Madrid and other burgeoning urban areas in Spain.
The business reputation of the Indians in Spain made good impressions upon the local communities where they reside. Overall, they have been perceived as hard working, apolitical and generally peaceful lot. Even their religious festivities have been recognized, such as Rath Yatras and other known celebrations such as Diwali among other things.
In order to practice their Hinduism, there have been a number of temples that have been established in Spain. The first one was established in Valencia, located near the central Plaza de Patriarca and was inaugurated on November 23, 2006. In February 2007, the Hindu temple in Ceuta was supposed to have been completed with the agreement between the Ceuta city government and the Hindi community. Another temple, this time for the Hare Krishnas, was opened in ISKCON near Plaza Espana, Madrid.
Despite being a fervently Catholic country, there have been a number of converts to the Hindu religion from Christianity. The practice of Hinduism has been tolerated, as Spain has become a homogenous and tolerant country. The country’s Indian population though is projected to dwindle as the country’s economy continues to be hobbled with debt and spending cuts. Because of the economic downturn, many Indians have either returned to India or moved elsewhere. Despite such changes, the practice of Hinduism in Spain remains to be vibrant and alive as a means to seek for respite from the difficulties of every day life.