Mahar, Hindu traditions in India






Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The Mahar people were historically a part of the Untouchables caste, the lowest caste in the Hindu social system. This classification caused the Mahar people to face extreme discrimination and legal restrictions on day-to-day activities, out of the fear that they might contaminate higher caste Hindus. These restrictions included items such as when they were allowed to be in the city, whether they were allowed to spit on the ground, and how loudly they were allowed to talk. The Mahar people worked primarily as low-skilled laborers and speak the Marathi language.

Beginning around 1900, the Mahar people experienced a slow social revolution where they began to become aware of and fight for more rights due to British influence. This culminated in the conversion of close to 500,000 Mahar individuals to Buddhism in 1956 led by Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. Those that converted to Buddhism are typically not associated with the Mahar people group any longer.

Where Are they Located?

The Mahar people are primarily located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, which is named after them. They can also be found in the surrounding Indian states. There are also small Mahar communities that can be found in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Originally, the Mahar people lived in primarily rural communities, but now are also common in urban areas.

What Are Their Lives Like?

In 1949, the Indian constitution outlawed discrimination against the lowest Hindu social class and the labeling of them as Untouchables. While this has helped the situation of those formerly in the Untouchables class, such as the Mahar people, they still face frequent residual discrimination.

Around the same time as the revolution led by Ambedkar, the Mahar people began to migrate to cities in search of work. They are often employed in low skilled labor such as masons, railway workers, bus/truck drivers, etc. In the rural areas, some Mahar people farm, though the Mahar people have never been an agricultural people group, likely due to their restricted access to land ownership.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Mahar people are primarily Hindu. They believe in the numerous Hindu gods and the reincarnation cycle based upon their good works. The Mahar also have a small Muslim presence. There have been small successes in evangelizing to the Mahar people, particularly during the social revolution around 1960. This led to small population of Christians amongst the Mahar.

What Are Their Needs?

Due to their historical and continual discrimination, the Mahar people face an uphill battle in daily life. Many struggle to obtain all the necessities of life. The Mahar people need both economic and social justice, in order to thrive.

Additionally, they need a spiritual revival. The country of India and the Hindu religion are not very tolerant to Christianity and converts. Christian Mahars will often face even further persecution or discrimination than what they experienced previously as Hindus.

Prayer Points

* Pray that God will begin restorative justice amongst the Mahar people, both socially and economically.
* Pray that God will raise up missionaries that have a heart for the Mahar people.
* Pray that God will soften the hearts of the Mahar people and that they will be responsive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will establish a thriving church amongst the Mahar people and will give the current Christians the strength to persevere and continue evangelizing.
* Pray for protection for the Mahar Christians from persecution.

Profile Source:   Levi Boxell  

People Name General Mahar, Hindu traditions
People Name in Country Mahar, Hindu traditions
Population in India 9,059,000
World Population 9,070,000
Countries 2
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Abne, Amadha, Anantkulia, Andvan, Antyaja, Atishudra, Atisudra, Autkamble, Bhumia, Bhumiputra, Bhuyal, Chokhamela, Chokhapur, Dahia, Deharia, Dharnicheput, Dhed, Dhegu Megu, Domb, Holar, Holiya, Hulsava, Jharia, Kathivale, Mahar, Maharani, Maheri, Mahir, Mahobia, Mahri, Mala, Mehra, Mhar, Mhetre, Mirasi, Nahria, Parvari, Potraj, Taral, Thorlegharche, Tigda, Veskar, Yesker
Country India
Region South Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 21  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file:  30  (up to 20 largest shown)
Maharashtra (7,593,000) Madhya Pradesh (874,000) Chhattisgarh (318,000) Karnataka (85,000)
West Bengal (47,000) Gujarat (35,000) Odisha (32,000) Telangana (32,000)
Goa (23,000) Rajasthan (6,500) Tripura (3,600) Tamil Nadu (3,100)
Delhi (2,900) Uttar Pradesh (1,500) Kerala (1,100) Assam (700)
Andhra Pradesh (400) Jharkhand (400) Punjab (200) Bihar (100)
Total States on file:  30  (up to 20 largest shown)
Maharashtra (7,593,000) Madhya Pradesh (874,000)
Chhattisgarh (318,000) Karnataka (85,000)
West Bengal (47,000) Gujarat (35,000)
Odisha (32,000) Telangana (32,000)
Goa (23,000) Rajasthan (6,500)
Tripura (3,600) Tamil Nadu (3,100)
Delhi (2,900) Uttar Pradesh (1,500)
Kerala (1,100) Assam (700)
Andhra Pradesh (400) Jharkhand (400)
Punjab (200) Bihar (100)
Languages & Dialects on file:  19  (up to 20 largest shown)
Marathi (7,660,000) Hindi (734,000) Chhattisgarhi (176,000) Ahirani (108,000)
Konkani (100,000) Bengali (48,000) Konkani, Goan (45,000) Oriya (23,000)
Khandesi (21,000) Gujarati (9,100) Nimadi (8,500) English (3,300)
Sindhi (2,400) Telugu (2,100) Kannada (1,900) Malvi (1,400)
Dhanki (200) Bhatri (100) Pengo (70)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Marathi 7,660,000 Hindi 734,000
Chhattisgarhi 176,000 Ahirani 108,000
Konkani 100,000 Bengali 48,000
Konkani, Goan 45,000 Oriya 23,000
Khandesi 21,000 Gujarati 9,100
Nimadi 8,500 English 3,300
Sindhi 2,400 Telugu 2,100
Kannada 1,900 Malvi 1,400
Dhanki 200 Bhatri 100
Pengo 70
For Primary Language: Marathi

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1807-1957)
New Testament Yes   (1811-1982)
Complete Bible Yes   (1821-2002)
Audio Bible Online
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Bible Visuals General
Bible-in-Your-Language Text / Printed Matter
Bibles, Bible League Text / Printed Matter
EasyBibles Text / Printed Matter
Fathers Love Letter Text / Printed Matter
Following Jesus (India, JF Project) Film / Video
God's Story Video Film / Video
Gods Simple Plan General
Got Questions Ministry General
Jesus Film: view in Marathi Film / Video
Magdalena (Jesus Film Project) Film / Video
My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime) Film / Video
Online New Testament (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Online New Testament (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Online Scripture (Talking Bibles) Audio Recordings
Online Scripture / Bible Audio Recordings
Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project) Audio Recordings
Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project) Film / Video
World Missionary Press Booklets Text / Printed Matter
Primary Religion: Hinduism

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.12 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
99.88 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Isudas   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Map Source: Joshua Project / Global Mapping International  
Profile Source: Levi Boxell  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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