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 an 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. The Gujaratis are known as the best businesspersons and industrialists in India. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India and Mohammed Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, were Gujaratis. Many Gujaratis migrated to other parts of the world during the time of the British empire. Some found their way to the Maldives Islands.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Fishing is the main industry of the islands. Gujarati 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 Gujaratis often own and operate the resorts and restaurants. Less wealthy Guaratis serve in the tourist industry. Gujaratis parents strongly encourage their children to marry within their people, culture and religion. Children study the Gujarati language and Hindu faith in Saturday schools. Parents want their children to earn college and professional degrees. The woman has a higher place in the Gujarati home then in most Asian cultures. The father is the head of the family, but the mother holds sway over the children, household and finances.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The large majority of the Gujaratis 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 Gujaratis visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hope of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods like 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 Gujarati 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. The Gujaratis often celebrate Muslim holidays. A tiny fraction of the Gujaratis claims to be followers of Jesus Christ.
What Are Their Needs?
The Gujaratis of the Maldives need to understand that material success will not gain them the peace of mind and happiness they seek. Jesus Christ is much more than another Hindu god or guru. He is the Lord and Savior of the world.
* Scripture Prayers for the Gujarati in Maldives.
Ask the Lord to send workers to share the good news with the Gujaratis of the Maldives. Pray the believers on the islands build relationships with the Gujaratis in order to introduce them to Christ. Pray the Gujarati leaders and heads of families would come to know the Savior. Pray for the Lord to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among the Gujaratis of the Maldives in this decade.