Introduction / History
The Agri are an ethnic community native to Mumbai. They migrated to Mumbai during the 13th century during the reign of Raja Bhimdev. The name Agri (pronounced agari) comes from Agar, a salt-pan. A legend states that two sons, Agla and Mangla, were born to the sage Agasti. The former become the ancestor of the Agris, the latter of the Mangelas (fishermen). The first was told to support himself by the manufacture of salt from the sea, the latter by fishing. The god Parashuram, intending to throw back the sea, was prevented by the intervention of Agri and Mangela women. At their request he consented to throw it back only 27 miles and the strip thus formed become the Konkan, a strip of coastal land. At present the Agri are distributed in Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. The Agri of Maharashtra are also known as Agle and Kharpatil.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Agri people are business oriented. People have extensive real estate property which was earlier used for farming. They are fond of gold and Agri women wear gold ornaments. Salt making, fishing and rice farming are the major occupations of this community. Rice bread, steamed rice with meat and fish is their daily diet. Not just men but women also help in earning the daily bread. Women take care of their house as well as manage the professional transactions. This is the major reason why there is no dowry system in this community. The Haldi ceremony is held before the wedding day. On this day men and women gather and dance freely. All young and elderly women are given the freedom to dance. A major turning point in an individual's life is when he or she marries. Giving or receiving a dowry is considered a taboo among the Agri people. If we go through India's history, we find many cases of dominating and suppressing women for dowry. But women in this community are safe.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The large majority of the Agri 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 Agri 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. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. They celebrate Ganesh Utsav, Navratri, Hanuman Jayanti and Ram Navmi and fairs with devotion. This community is gifted with lovely and traditional customs along with their adventurous and prosperous occupation of fishing.
What Are Their Needs?
The Agri people need to put all their trust in Jesus Christ so they can experience life to the full. The Santal would benefit by learning new job skills and improved literacy.
* Scripture Prayers for the Agri in India.
Pray for a spiritual hunger that will give the Agri people a willingness to seek the eternal blessings of Jesus Christ. Pray for a disciple making movement among the Agri people this decade. Pray for the Lord to send out workers to the Agri people.