Marma in India


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

Expanded PDF Profile

Introduction / History

Centuries ago, the most feared pirates and sailors in the Bay of Bengal terrorized communities along the seacoast and far up the river channels of what is now Bangladesh. People called them maghs, or pirates. This continues to be the popular name of this tribe, originally from the Arakan region of Myanmar.


The people themselves dislike the term "Magh" and prefer to be called Marmas, which means "Burmese." They are of Thai origin. They came through Arakan after their ancestors were driven out of China. They speak Arakanese, a Tibeto-Burman language, and regard Myanmar as the center of their cultural life. The Marma continue to write and dress in ways similar to Burmese culture.


Today, most live in the Chittagong Hills area of southeastern Bangladesh. There is a smaller group of them that borders that region in northeastern India.


What Are Their Lives Like?

Having left the seas long ago, the Marma are now valley farmers. Forced out of the plains and into the hills by more powerful groups, they have adopted the "slash and burn" method of agriculture. In their society, farmland is community property. After one year’s use, the field must be left fallow for a sufficient time to let the land recover. After the fallow period, anyone and everyone can work in this field. No individual, family, or kinship group has prerogative rights to the land. Farming and other activities tie families to the community and the community to families.


According to their custom, marriages must be within the clan. Marma villages comprise 10 to 50 houses built on the banks of streams. The houses are flimsy structures constructed on bamboo piles. Often, a roofed platform at the end of the village street serves as a community house where men socialize, share stories and discuss village business.


They are folk Buddhists who believe in reincarnation, but also in spirits and ghosts who can make life miserable.
What Are Their Beliefs?

Although several religions are represented among the Marma, the most common religion is a blend of Buddhism and animism (belief that non-human objects have spirits). The theology of Buddhism alleges that man undergoes a cycle of separate existences and that all living things have individual souls. A devout Buddhist can progress toward his goal of nirvana—a state of eternal bliss—through the accumulation of merit-earning acts.


The animistic ingredient includes the worship and appeasement of local spirits, such as house spirits, village spirits, and territorial spirits, which rule over rice fields, forests, lakes, rivers, and other places. In order to avoid accidents, misfortune, and illnesses, one must try to manipulate and placate the spirits through rituals and offerings of food and flowers. Male and female mediums enter trances to communicate with the spirits so that they might discover future events.


What Are Their Needs?

The Marma people who live in northeastern India don’t live far from vibrant believers. They need Christ followers to take the ways of the Savior to them. Perhaps someone who can help them get a higher yield for their crops can also reap a harvest among these Buddhists.


Prayer Points

Pray that God will send culturally sensitive missionaries who will show them the way to the cross.


Pray for a Christ-ward movement to flourish among the Marma people in the 2020s.


Pray for the Marma people to be blessed with peace, joy and spiritual prosperity as they follow Jesus Christ.


Pray for their leaders to have dreams and visions that will open their hearts to Jesus Christ and his ambassadors.


Scripture Prayers for the Marma in India.


Profile Source:   Joshua Project  
Expanded PDF Profile

Rakhine State
Source:  Asia Harvest      Download

People Name General Marma
People Name in Country Marma
Pronunciation MAR-mah
Population this Country 55,000
Population all Countries 297,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Mogh; Morma; Rakhine; मर्मा
People ID 17671
ROP3 Code 113113
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 10  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 5
Largest States
Tripura
45,000
West Bengal
9,400
Mizoram
700
Assam
20
Meghalaya
10
Districts Interactive map, listing and data download
Specialized Website South Asia Peoples
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 10  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 5
  Tripura 45,000
  West Bengal 9,400
  Mizoram 700
  Assam 20
  Meghalaya 10
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Rakhine (32,000 speakers)
Language Code rki   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 22
Secondary Languages
(only 15 largest shown)
Bengali
10,000
Hindi
1,400
Kok Borok
1,300
Kurux
700
Nepali
200
Santhali
100
Telugu
50
Garo
30
Assamese
20
Boro
10
English Dimasa
Ho Munda Limbu
Primary Language Rakhine (32,000 speakers)
Language Code rki   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 22
Secondary Languages (only 15 largest shown)
  Bengali 10,000
  Hindi 1,400
  Kok Borok 1,300
  Kurux 700
  Nepali 200
  Santhali 100
  Telugu 50
  Garo 30
  Assamese 20
  Boro 10
  English 10
  Dimasa 10
  Ho 10
  Munda 10
  Limbu 10
People Groups Speaking Rakhine

Primary Language:  Rakhine

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1914)
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
Amazon
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Freedom from Suffering Create International
Film / Video Freedom from Suffering (EngSub) Create International
Film / Video God's Story video God's Story
Film / Video Indigitube.tv Video / Animation Create International
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Rakhine Jesus Film Project
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent *
Buddhism
87.34 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
0.39 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
11.78 %
Islam
0.14 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.29 %
Unknown
0.06 %
* From latest India census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Photo Source Gerald Roberts 
Map Source People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project  
Video Source Asia Harvest
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more