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Seychelles - Religion

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 92,000 (July 2015 estimate). Approximately 76 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. Other religious groups represented include Anglicans (6 percent), Hindus (2.4 percent), and Muslims (1.6 percent). Other faiths make up the remaining 14 percent, including Bahais and Christian groups such as Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Assemblies of God, Pentecostal Church, Nazarites, and Jehovahs Witnesses.

The government recognized the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Seventh-day Adventist churches, mosques, and the Bahai local spiritual assembly by individual acts of incorporation. Other religious groups with fewer assets reportedly opted not to apply for recognition as corporate bodies and were registered as associations with the Registrar of Associations. As the regulating body for both religious and secular associations, the Registrar of Associations recognized all six religious associations that had applied.

The government prohibited live broadcasts of all religious programming, with the exception of radio broadcasts, lasting up to 90 minutes each, of Catholic masses and Anglican worship services on alternate Sundays. The government-owned Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation reviewed and approved all other religious programing to ensure hate speech was not broadcast. This programming consisted of 15-minute, prerecorded prayer broadcasts by Muslim, Hindu, Bahai, Seventh-day Adventist, Catholic, and Anglican groups every two weeks. Smaller religious groups continued to protest the government did not grant them their own dedicated radio broadcast time.

There are a little over 1,500 people of Tamil descent living in the Seychelles who practice Hinduism. Tamils have a long and proud history in the Seychelles as businessmen and advisors to the government. In May 1992, a Hindu temple, the Navasakti Vinayagar Temple, was consecrated on the island of Mah. The deity presiding over the temple is the elephant god Ganesh.

Although Moslem mariners were among the first people to step foot on the Seychelles, they established no permanent settlements. Consequently, they did not establish their religion there to any large degree. Today, approximately 1,000 people in the Seychelles, or 1.1 percent of the population, practice Islam.

Despite their adherence to organized religions, many Seychellois continue to believe in witchcraft, magic and sorcery. Shamans known bonom di bwa (from the French "bonhomme de bois" or "man of the woods") are regularly consulted to provide supernatural guidance for solving everyday problems. African slaves brought over their traditions of gris-gris or black magic. In some ways, this Seychellois folk tradition is very similar to Haitian culture. The Seychellois believe in ghosts, and when someone in their families dies they routinely keep watch over the coffin lest the departed's body be spirited away and turned into a "dandotia" or zombie.





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