Madari (Muslim traditions) in Sri Lanka

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Madari people of South Asia were originally all Hindus but many converted to Islam during the period of the Moguls. Their traditional occupation is that of being snake charmers and entertainers with monkeys and bears. With the rise of animal rights, the Madari have had to find other employment. Many have left their nomadic habits to settle down to become farm workers and day laborers. The vast majority of Madari are landless. Some of their women and children beg to gain income to support their families.

Illiteracy is a big problem for the Madari. As long as most of the Madari cannot read or write, they will stay at the bottom rung of society. The main language of the Madari of Sri Lanka is Urdu.

Where Are they Located?

Most Madari people live in India and Pakistan. Smaller groups live in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Madari marry within their caste but not within their particular clan. Families arrange marriages. The newly married couple lives near or with the groom’s parents. Often the groom’s young man must live and work for his future father in law as part of the bride price. The family must compensate the bride’s family for the daughter they are losing. Sons inherit property from their father.

In the past, most Madari traveled from village to village entertaining other castes with snake charming and trained animals. Most now live in rural villages making a living by working on land owned by others. Caste councils or “panches” decide legal disputes especially those involving marriage and divorce.

The main foods of the Madari are rice, millet, wheat, and vegetables. They will eat meat on special occasions but not pork or beef. Alcoholism is a problem for the Madari, even though alcohol is forbidden to Muslims.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Madari people are Muslims. Some practice the mystical branch of Islam called Sufism. Islam is a major world religion that is based on five essential duties or "pillars": (1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) Five times a day one must pray while facing Mecca. (3) One must give an obligatory percentage (very similar to tithes) on an annual basis. (4) One must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) One must try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in his or her lifetime.

The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.

What Are Their Needs?

The Madari people need to hear and experience the limitless love and grace of our Lord. They need help in learning new job skills and in educating their children. The gospel must be presented to them in oral and visual form due to the Madaris’ lack of literacy.

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Madari (Muslim traditions) in Sri Lanka.

* Pray that the Lord sends believers to build relationships with the Madari people.
* Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Madari people teachable and understanding hearts.
* Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended Madari families so the gospel will spread rapidly among this people group.
* Pray for a strong movement of the Holy Spirit will bring entire Madari families into a rich experience of God’s blessing.


Profile Source:   Keith Carey  

People Name General Madari (Muslim traditions)
People Name in Country Madari (Muslim traditions)
World Population 112,000
Total Countries 4
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Adugar; Fakir; Faqir; Jadugar; Kalandar; Khilwar; मदारी
People ID 19483
ROP3 Code 115507
Country Sri Lanka
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 30  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 4
Largest States
North Western
Specialized Website South Asia Peoples
Country Sri Lanka
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 30  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 4
  Western 200
  Eastern 200
  North Western 70
  Central 40
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Urdu (500 speakers)
Language Code urd   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Urdu (500 speakers)
Language Code urd   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Urdu

Primary Language:  Urdu

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1747-1894)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1758-2000)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1843-2016)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
World Bibles
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio Recordings Online New Testament - Easy to Read (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Online New Testament - Pakistan Bible Society (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Online Scripture (Talking Bibles)
Audio Recordings Oral Bible
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Audio Recordings Urdu Online Audio Bible
Film / Video God's Love Story
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Video / Animation
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Urdu
Film / Video Magdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
Film / Video The Hope Video
Film / Video The Prophets' Story
Film / Video The Savior 6 - The Lord's Prayer
Film / Video The Savior 8 - Jesus is Risen
General Bible Visuals
General Four Spiritual Laws
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent *
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
100.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Map Source People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project  
Profile Source Keith Carey  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
* Religion Values From latest Sri Lanka census data.  Current values may differ.