Tamil (Hindu traditions) in South Africa

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The homeland of the Tamil people is southeast India. Tamil is one of the major languages of India and the 17th most spoken language in the world. Tamils are proud of their cultural and literary heritage that dates back over 2000 years. Before the coming of the Europeans at various times, Tamils ruled an empire in south India and Southeast Asia. Many thousands of Tamils have left South India and live in dozens of countries throughout the world. Some migrated to South Africa in the 19th century when India and South Africa were both British colonies. The Tamils often came as indentured servants and laborers. The ability of the Tamils to speak English gave them an advantage in South Africa and in international business. A small fraction of Tamils of Hindu background in the South Africa has become followers of Jesus Christ.

What Are Their Lives Like?

During the time of apartheid, the Tamils in South Africa were victims of discrimination by the English and Dutch. They did not have the rights of the citizens of European descent. However, the Tamils fared better than the local African peoples. The Tamils and other Asians occupied what one could consider a lower middle-class position as shop keepers, clerks and lower governmental workers. Today most Tamils in South Africa fit into the middle class. Now they have the rights of citizens and may attend universities that once were reserved for whites. Tamil parents encourage their sons and daughters to obtain college educations and professional degrees. Some Tamils work in medicine, education, finance, science and engineering at the highest levels of South African society. Many Tamils today still own shops, small businesses and restaurants. The father is the head of the Tamil family. He shares leadership with his wife over the children. A woman has a higher place in the Tamil home than in most Asian and African cultures. Tamils in South Africa try to maintain their ethnic identity and at the same time become model South African citizens. In traditional Tamil culture, the parents chose the spouse of their children. This practice has changed in Western societies where children frequently choose their partner with their parents’ guidance. Tamil parents strongly encourage their children to marry within their culture and caste.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of Tamils living in South Africa practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. The patron god of the Tamils is Murugan, the Hindu god of war. Hindus worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Tamils visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods as Christians do with their heavenly Father. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. The main yearly holidays of the Hindu Tamil people are Holi, the festival of colors and the start of spring, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn and Rama Navami, Rama’s birthday. South African Tamils also frequently celebrate Christian holidays. The Tamil New Year is celebrated on April 14.

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Tamil (Hindu traditions) in South Africa.

Pray the Lord raises up a Disciple Making Movement among the Tamils in South Africa in this decade. Pray the Lord moves South African believers and churches to reach out and share the good news with Tamil Hindus. Pray that more Christian literature, in



Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Tamil (Hindu traditions)
People Name in Country Tamil (Hindu traditions)
Pronunciation TAH-mill
Population this Country 33,000
Population all Countries 2,764,000
Total Countries 20
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 2
Unreached No
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed
Alternate Names तमिल (हिंदू ट्रेडिशन्स)
People ID 18211
ROP3 Code 113732
Country South Africa
Region Africa, East and Southern
Continent Africa
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Country South Africa
Region Africa, East and Southern
Continent Africa
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked

No people group map currently available. Use the above button to submit a map.

Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Language Tamil (33,000 speakers)
Language Code tam   Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect South Africa Tamil
Dialect Code 17172   Global Recordings Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Tamil (33,000 speakers)
Language Code tam   Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect South Africa Tamil
Dialect Code 17172   Global Recordings Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Tamil

Primary Language:  Tamil

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1714-1956)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1715-1998)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1727-2016)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio Recordings Father's Love Letter
Audio Recordings General Ministry Resources
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Online Scripture (Talking Bibles)
Audio Recordings Oral Bible
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Finding Peace
Film / Video Following Jesus (India, JF Project)
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Indigitube.tv Video / Animation
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Tamil
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels
Film / Video Magdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
Film / Video The Prophets' Story
General Comprehensive list of Tamil Resources
General Gospel website in this language
General Got Questions Ministry
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 1.50 %)
12.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
73.00 %
10.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
5.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
25.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
15.0 %
Roman Catholic
60.0 %
Photo Source Anonymous 
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more


Welcome. I’m a virtual assistant and will try to answer questions about Joshua Project, unreached people groups, the Great Commission and more. How can I help you?

For further help try our FAQ, Definitions or Contact Us pages.