Introduction / History
Most Marathi speakers come from the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Many of India's states are named after a particular language, and Maharashtra, the state which includes Mumbai, is home of most of India's Marathi speakers. Marathi speakers led a great empire called the Maratha Empire in the 1600s and 1700s.
In the 20th century some Marathi began migrating to the USA. These were generally better educated Marathi who spoke fluent English. Many were professionals such a physicians, scientists, bankers, and engineers.
Only a tiny fraction of Marathi in the USA claims to be followers of Jesus Christ. Many Christian resources including a complete Bible and the JESUS Film are available in Marathi.
What are their lives like?
In the United States, South Asian communities come together calling themselves "Desis." Though they may be Hindu, Sikh, Jain, or Muslim, they tend to associate with Indians or Pakistani in the USA. Though some of the most used languages in the world are spoken in South Asia, they use English as a common language, especially when they live in English speaking countries like the United States. The desis come together to celebrate their cultures, cuisine and holidays.
However, each language group likes to have their own associations where they can speak the language of their hearts. For this reason, there are Marathi associations throughout the United States. Most of the Marathi speakers, or other South Asians for that matter, are from professional backgrounds. Many own businesses or practice medicine.
In India Marathi tend to marry within their group and caste. In the USA Marathi young people often choose their own partners not from the Marathi culture and language. By the second or third generation, these children frequently identify as Americans not as Indians or Pakistani.
What are their beliefs?
South Asian Hindus are a small minority in the United States. Their Hindu religion is a means to maintaining their culture. They are already losing much of their cultural uniqueness by speaking English at home. Hinduism is a means to maintaining their cultural ties to India.
Hinduism is the ancient religion of India. Hinduism is a catch-all phrase for the local religions of South Asia, so it is very diverse. At the popular level, Hindus worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. They 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 like Christians. There are other Hindus who are much more philosophical, especially among the Brahmins.
Almost all Hindus participate in yearly celebrations like 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?
It will take believers who are willing to learn about Hindu culture before they can approach Marathi people with the gospel. Some "desi" groups like Tamil speakers already have groups of strong believers. Someone will have to find ways for Marathi speakers to follow Jesus without feeling like they are abandoning what is left of their ancient culture.
Pray for dreams and visions of the Savior that will open the door for some Marathi to allow Christ to enter their hearts.
Pray for believers in the USA to reach out and build relationships with their Marathi neighbors.
Pray that the Marathi in the USA develop a spiritual hunger and a desire to read the Bible.
Ask the Lord to raise up a disciple making movement among American Marathi this decade.
Text source: Joshua Project