Text source: Joshua Project
Introduction / History
You may have heard of the Maldives Islands. But do you know where this island nation is located? Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small island state in South Asia, situated in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 700 kilometers from the Asian continent's mainland. The country consists of 1192 islands. Of these 185 are inhabited. The last Buddhist king of the Maldives converted to Islam in 1153. Later the Maldives were colonies of Portugal, the Netherlands and Great Britain. The Maldives became independent from the UK in 1953. The Maldives is the lowest nation in the world with an average height of only 2.4 meters. Rising sea levels pose a threat to the existence of the islands. It is estimated that the inhabited islands may have to be evacuated by 2100 if present trends continue. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami devasted the low-lying islands drowning many and doing millions of dollars of damage. There are a small number of people of Tamil origin who make their home in the Maldives. The homeland of the Tamil is the southwest Indian state of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. The Tamil people now live in over 30 nations of the world including the Maldives.
What are their lives like?
Fishing is the main industry of the islands. A number of Tamil people are involved in the catching, selling and exporting of fish. Unfortunately, the number of fish in Maldivian waters is declining due to the industrial fishing methods of European, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean fishermen. Tourism is the second leading industry in the Maldives. The islands boast of 134 resorts and hotels. Swimming, scuba diving, sports fishing, and bar hopping are popular among the tourists who visit the Maldives. Wealthy, educated Tamils often own and operate the resorts and restaurants. Less wealthy Tamils work and serve in the tourist industry. 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 many Asian cultures. Parents encourage their sons and daughters to excel in education and obtain college degrees. Tamils in the Maldives try to maintain their ethnic identity. In traditional Tamil culture, the parents chose the spouse of their children. This practice has changed where young people frequently choose their life partner with their parents' guidance.
What are their beliefs?
The large majority of Tamils in the Maldives practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. They 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.
What are their needs?
The Tamils living in the Maldives need to hear a clear presentation of the gospel. They need to come to understand that Jesus Christ is not just another Hindu god or guru. He is the Son of the one, true God and the only One who can forgive their sins.
Pray the Lord raises up a Disciple Making Movement among the Tamils in the Maldives in this decade. Pray the Lord moves believers and churches to reach out and share the good news with the Tamils. Pray that more Christian literature and videos become widely available to them in the Tamil language. Ask God to bring Tamil leaders and heads of families into His kingdom.
ReferencesView Tamil in all countries.