- The earliest Hindu state to appear on the Malay Peninsula was Kamalanka, which emerged dur-ing the seventh century C.E. It appears to have developed out of the earlier kingdom of Lang-La-Tsiu, a dependency of the Cambodian king-dom of Funan. Eventually the Malay Peninsula became part of the Hindu kingdoms of Srivijaya (Sumatra) and Majapahit (Java). Hinduism as well as Buddhism were practiced throughout the peninsula, which became in 1957 the Fed-eration of Malaya. Malaysia was formed in 1963 when the former British colonies of Singapore and Sabah and Sarawak (on Borneo) joined the federation.Malaysia became a British colony during the 19th century; from the start, the colony accepted Hindu immigrants. Immigration from India con-tinued until World War II, with peak numbers entering Malaysia during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The movement of laborers to Malaysia constituted one of the largest Indian out-migrations in history. Unlike in earlier peri-ods (the era of Hindu expansion), emigrants were primarily from the lower castes, recruited to work in the sugar and rubber plantations, or in the fishing, forestry, and mining industries. Most migrants were from the state of Madras and were culturally Tamil, although significant num-bers were Telugu and Gujarati. SIKHS from the Punjab served in the military and police forces. The Tamil financier caste introduced worship of the deity Murugan, or KARTTIKEYA son of SHIVA, who became the principal deity recognized in Malaysia.Today South Asians compose 8 percent of the population of the Malay Peninsula. Most Hindus do not practice orthodox Hinduism, but rather Tamil folk religion. Recently, Brahminical practices have become more popular, a process called Sanskritization. Hindu fundamentalism was growing among a minority, as in India, at the close of the 20th and beginning of the 21st cen-Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Institute for the Study of American Religion, Santa Barbara, California)Hindus have been very active in politics in Malaysia.Further reading: Crispin Bates ed., Community, Empire, and Migration: South Asians in Diaspora (New York: Palgrave, 2001); George Coedes, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. Edited by Walter F. Vella (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1968); K. S. Sandhu, Indians in Malaya: Some Aspects of Their Immi-gration and Settlement (1786–1957) (London: Cam-bridge University Press, 1969); K. S. Sandhu and A. Mani, eds., Indian Communities in Southeast Asia (Singapore: Times Academic Press and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1993); Steven Vertovec, The Hindu Diaspora: Comparative Patterns (London: Rout-ledge, 2000).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.