Meitei in Bangladesh

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge
* From latest Bangladesh census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.

Expanded PDF Profile

Introduction / History

Although most of the world's Manipuri live in northeastern India, a large group also reside in neighboring Bangladesh. Also known as the Meithei, the Manipuri are of Mongolian descent and speak a language called Meithei.

After being defeated by the Burmese in a series of battles in the eighteenth century, many Manipuri fled their homeland in the northeastern Indian kingdom of Manipur. A significant number settled in East Bengal, which was then ruled by the British. In 1947, East Bengal gained its independence. Although most Manipuri were Hindu, the majority of the East Bengal citizens were Muslim; thus, the region became the east wing of the Islamic nation of Pakistan.

In 1971, East Pakistan seceded from the nation of Pakistan and was renamed Bangladesh. Today, most Manipuri remain linguistically, culturally, and religiously isolated from the rest of Bangladesh as they cling to their Hindu lifestyle.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Manipuri live in the district of Sylhet in northeastern Bangladesh. This district borders the Indian state of Meghalaya. Sylhet is famous for its scenic tea plantations and lush green tropical forests. In sharp contrast to the flat plains of most of Bangladesh, Sylhet is characterized by forested, rolling hills.

Most Manipuri are farmers. Their primary crop is rice, but they grow a variety of other crops, including sugarcane, tobacco, oranges, and pineapples. The Manipuri eat fish, but in accordance with Hindu custom, they abstain from eating any meat. They are very conscientious of personal hygiene; consequently, they build their villages near rivers so that they may frequently wash their clothing and bathe.

In rural areas, to protect their homes from flooding, the Manipuri build their houses on wooden bamboo poles. The houses have reed walls plastered with mud, and the roofs are made of thatch or tin. The villagers are divided into several clans (extended family units). People are not permitted to marry within their own clan, but must find a spouse from another clan. The Manipuri have only one social class, which corresponds to the Indian caste that is at the bottom. These people have no prestige and are dominated by higher classes.

For recreation, the Manipuri enjoy polo, boat racing, drama, and dancing. They are famous throughout the world for their beautiful expressive dances. The dances are actually dramas interpreted by a narrator who chants dialogue and gives descriptions of the action. Themes are generally taken from the life of the god Krishna.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Manipuri were converted to Hinduism in the sixteenth century, but elements of their pre-Hindu religion still remain today. In addition to worshiping the officially recognized Hindu gods, Manipuri continue to worship many gods of nature, especially one who supposedly came to earth in the form of a snake. Folk beliefs continue to be highly influential in Manipuri society. For example, the people often make difficult decisions by observing the positions of roosters' feet. They even have an old proverb that says, "All wisdom derives from a rooster's foot." Dance is closely tied to Manipuri religion. In the people's eyes, dance is a means of pleasing the gods and is the essence of the universe.

What Are Their Needs?

Bangladesh is a nation with many pressing needs. Over half of the adult population is illiterate, health care is inadequate, and frequent natural disasters wreak havoc on the country. Even more astounding than these extreme physical needs are the numerous spiritual needs. The Manipuri adhere to a combination of Hinduism, animism (the belief that non-human objects have spirits), and folk beliefs. The people desperately need to hear about the love and power of Jesus. Although they are somewhat dissatisfied with Hinduism, the Manipuri have been resistant when presented with the Gospel. The Bible is available in their language, as well as Christian radio broadcasts and the Jesus film.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord of the harvest to send Christian laborers to live and work among the Manipuri.
Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies currently focusing on the Manipuri.
Pray for open doors for the Jesus film to be shown to the Manipuri.
Pray that God will give the Manipuri believers boldness to share the love of Christ with their own people.
Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
Ask the Lord to bring forth a vigorous Manipuri church for the glory of His name!

Scripture Prayers for the Meitei in Bangladesh.

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  
Expanded PDF Profile

People Name General Meitei
People Name in Country Meitei
Population this Country 30,000
Population all Countries 1,465,000
Total Countries 3
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 4  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Maitei; Meetei; Megli; Mitei; Pangal; Ponna; मएइतेई
People ID 13513
ROP3 Code 106268
Country Bangladesh
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 29  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 2
Largest States
Country Bangladesh
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 29  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 2
  Sylhet 27,000
  Chittagong 1,700
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Meitei (30,000 speakers)
Language Code mni   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 3
Secondary Languages
Primary Language Meitei (30,000 speakers)
Language Code mni   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 3
Secondary Languages
  Sylheti 1,200
  Bengali 500
People Groups Speaking Meitei

Primary Language:  Meitei

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1820-1995)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1827-1996)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1984-2019)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online Scripture / Portions
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio
Film / Video God's Story video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Meitei
Film / Video Magdalena video
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children
General Biblical answers to your questions
General Gospel resources links
General Gospel website in this language
General Gospel website in this language
Text / Printed Matter Children and youth resources
Text / Printed Matter Jesus Messiah comic book
Text / Printed Matter Literacy primer for Meitei
Text / Printed Matter Love letter to you from scripture
Text / Printed Matter Topical Scripture booklets and Bible studies
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Major Religion Percent *
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
0.17 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
95.60 %
2.35 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
1.89 %
* From latest Bangladesh census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Photo Source (Representative photo)
Copyrighted © 2022  Isudas  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more