Introduction / History Even though the Marathis have both an oral and written history that dates back 2000 years, they only gained attention as a prominent people group in the 1600s. At that time a man named Shivaji and his warriors established the Maratha Empire. India's western state of Maharashtra is named after this people group. Technically Marathi is a language, though language often defines a people group.
Marathi speakers have a strong tradition of practicing Hinduism, but some are Jewish. The latter group is in the process of moving to Israel, the Jewish homeland.
Where are they located? Most Marathi speaking Jews live in India's state of Maharashtra and other states in India, but there is also a diaspora in other countries including the US, Kenya, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and Israel.
What are their lives like? Most Marathi speaking Jews emigrated to Israel mainly in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Some of them retain the Indian culture and language, while the younger generation is more likely to dress like the Israelis and speak only Hebrew. This is often the pattern for groups that move to other countries. The older generation tries to keep the culture of the old country, and the youngest generation has little or no connection with it. Often there is a generation between the two that is not entirely at home in either culture.
What are their beliefs? These people are Jewish, though some are more orthodox in their beliefs than others. Some take the Torah and the prophets very seriously, and they believe these came directly from God. Others believe that Judaism changes to fit the needs of modern man. Still others doubt the existence of God, but they remain part of the Jewish culture.
What are their needs? The Jews have a wonderful understanding of their connection with the Abrahamic covenant. However, they also have a history of rejecting Jesus Christ as Messiah, the one who has fulfilled that covenant. Pray that as the Gospel is shared, it will not be viewed as anti-Semitic, but rather as the fulfillment of what God promised through Abraham centuries ago. Like other Jewish people, the Marathi Jews in Israel need spiritual hunger that will drive them to seek and find the abundant life offered by Jesus Christ.
Prayer Points * Pray for gospel workers to catch a vision for reaching the Marathi people in Israel for Jesus and that in God's sovereign timing their hearts would be open and ready to follow Him.
* Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended Marathi families so the gospel will spread rapidly among this people group.
* Pray for the spiritual lives of the Marathi people to become fruitful as they follow Christ.
* Pray for the lives and culture of the Marathi people to evidence the rule and reign of the Kingdom of God as they open to the gospel, and for the beauty of Jesus to be seen in them.