Marathi people

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Total population
70 to 80 million
Regions with significant populations

Primary populations in: Maharashtra • Gujarat • Madhya Pradesh
Goa • Karnataka • Andhra Pradesh • Tamil Nadu[1]


Israel • Mauritius[1] • United States •

United Kingdom • Australia  • Canada
predominantly Hinduism and Islam, Minorities of Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, and Jainism
Related ethnic groups
Indo-Aryans, Dravidians, Goans, Konkani people, Kannadigas, Telugu people, Gujarati people, Tamil people

The Marathi people or Maharashtrians (Marathi: मराठी माणसे, marāṭhī mānasé) are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group that inhabits the Maharashtra region and state of western India. Their language, Marathi, is part of the southern group of Indo-Aryan languages. Although their history goes back more than two millennia, the community came to prominence when Maratha warriors under Shivaji established the Maratha Empire in 1674.


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Maharashtra Portal

The term Maratha or its plural Marathe was used between the 17th and 19th centuries, coinciding with the existence of the Maratha Empire to describe Marathi speaking people of all castes,hailing from what is now the Indian State of Maharashtra. However, at the beginning of 20th century, due to the efforts of Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur, the peasant Indo-Aryan Kshatriya Marathi class called Kunbi started using the word Maratha to describe themselves. The current usage of the term Maratha applies mainly to the former Indo-Aryan Kshatriya Kunbi caste as well as the 96 clan upper caste Maratha group and not to the wider Marathi community.

The English-origin term 'Maharashtrian' is derived from the Indian state of Maharashtra, the origin of the Marathi people. It is often wrongly used interchangeably with 'Marathi'. However, the term 'Marathi' refers to the original residents of Maharashtra state (with their culture, language and history), whereas 'Maharashtrian' simply means people or residents of Maharashtra, which also includes the huge number of people who have migrated to Maharashtra from other regions of India, who may or may not observe the authentic culture and language.

The location of state of Maharashtra in India. Majority of Marathi people live in Maharashtra (left). The Krishna and Godavari rivers (right)
Divisions of Maharashtra.


The earliest records refer to the region today known as Maharashtra as Dandakaranyas which means "Forest of strict norms" (Dandak - Strick norms, Aranya - Forest). The ancient Hindu Epic, Ramayana, calls Dandakaranya, the home of deadly creatures and demons. Only exiled persons and sages (Rishis) typically resided here. Khara, Dushan and Shurpanakha are said to have met Rama in this region in the Epic Ramayana. Around 600 BC, the region today known as Maharashtra was one of the mahajanapadas known as Assaka. Panchavati near City of Nasik is stated in Ramayana as the place where Lakshman chopped the nose (nasika in Sanskrit) of Ravana's sister Shurpanakha. It is not known whether before the coming of the Aryans, this region was inhabited by other civilisations or not.

The earliest example of the existence of Marathi as an independent language dates back to more than 2,000 years. A shilalekh (stone carving) discovered in Junnar taluka of Pune talks about Maharathi language, which is the same as Marathi. In fact, various references have been gathered that equate the Maharashtrian Parkit, Maharathi, Desi with that of present day Marathi.

It is also believed that Western Kshatrapas (35–405 BC) were Saka rulers of the western part of India (Saurashtra and Malwa: modern Gujarat, Southern Sindh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan). They were successors to the Indo-Scythians. Sakas invaded Ujjain and establish the Saka era (with Saka calendar), marking the beginning of the long-lived Saka Western Satraps kingdom.[2] Emperor Ashoka added Maharashtra and the surrounding regions to the Mauryan Empire. Around 230 BC, a local dynasty, the Sātavāhanas, rose to power in the Maharashtra. The kingdom, based in Junnar near Pune, eventually turned into an empire with the conquests of the northern part of what is today known as Karnataka as well as Andhra Pradesh. It is believed that most of the Indo-Aryan Marathi people today are descendants of this empire.[citation needed]

The empire reached its zenith under Gautamiputra Sátakarni, more popularly known as Shalivahan. He started a new calendar called Shalivahan Shaka[citation needed] which is still used by people of Deccan, i.e., Indo-Aryans Marathi and Gujarati and Kannada and Telugu people today. The empire collapsed around 300 CE.[citation needed] The use of Indo-Aryan Maharashtri language started during the Satavahana rule for several years.[citation needed] After, the region was ruled by various small kingdoms. The region was ruled by the Indo-Aryan Rashtrakuta dynasty in the 8th century. After the Rashtrakuta kingdom fell, the region was ruled by the Yadava Dynasty of Deogiri who made Marathi their official language.[citation needed] They ruled till 13th century after which the region fell under Islamic rule. The Deccan sultanates ruled Maharashtra for around three centuries.[3]

In mid-17th century, Shivaji Maharaj founded the Maratha Empire by reclaiming the Desh and the Konkan region. After a lifetime of exploits and a series of conquests, Shivaji died in 1680.[citation needed] The Mughals who had lost a lot of ground to the Marathas under Shivaji invaded Maharashtra in 1681. Shivaji's son Sambhaji was crowned Emperor in 1681 after a brief civil war. Sambhaji led the Marathas valiantly against a much stronger opponent. But in 1689, he was betrayed by Ganoji Shirke and was captured, tortured and killed by Aurangzeb.[4] (Ganoji's hunger for Maratha land in the form of watan led to his enmity with Sambhaji. Sambhaji, like his father, Shivaji Maharaj, had abolished the custom of giving away watans, as this led to the people's suffering from the hands of the watandar and there were chances of the watandars assuming kingship or taking possession of their watans.)

With their leader dead, the Marathas were demoralised, but the young Rajaram was put to the throne and then the Maratha crown prince had to retreat to Jinji in South India. But in 1707, under the leadership of Maharani Tarabai, the Marathas won the War of 27 years. Shahu, the grandson of Shivaji, with the help of capable Maratha chieftains saw the greatest expansion of Maratha power. After his death in 1749 the Royal Family decided to handover the power to Peshwa . The empire was expanded by many Maratha clans like Shinde, Gaekwad, Pawar, Bhonsale and Holkar, Jadhav, Peshwa etc. until the Marathas ruled practically the whole sub-continent (with the exception of eastern region) from Attock in today's Pakistan to Southern India. Pune became the imperial seat with envoys, ambassadors and royals coming in from far and near. However, after the Third battle of Panipat in which the Marathas were defeated by Ahmed Shah Abdali, the Empire broke up into many independent kingdoms. Due to the efforts of Mahadji Shinde, it remained a confederacy until the British defeated Bajirao II. Still, several independent Maratha states existed until 1947 when these states acceded to the Dominion of India.

Genetics of Marathi People[edit]

Genetic analysis suggests that Indian populations, including Maharashtra state, are largely derived from Paleolithic ancient settlers; however, a more recent (∼10 Ky older) detectable paternal gene flow from west Asia is well reflected in the present study. These findings reveal movement of populations to Maharashtra through the western coast rather than mainland where Western Ghats-Vindhya Mountains and Narmada-Tapti rivers might have acted as a natural barrier. Also traces of East Asian genes can be found in various caste groups of Marathas, Brahmins and Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu.


The majority of Marathi people are Hindus. Although Krishna in the form of Vithal is the most popular deity amongst Marathi Hindus, they also worship the Shiva family deities such as Shankar and Parvati under various names and also Ganesh. Khandoba, however, the most popular family deity in Maharashtra. The Warkari tradition holds strong grip on local Hindus of Maharastra. The public Ganesh festival started by Lokmanya Tilak in the late 19th century is very popular. Marathi Hindus also revere Bhakti saints of all castes, such as Dnyaneshwar (Brahmin), Savata Mali (Mali), Eknath (Brahmin), Tukaram (Moray Marathi-Kunbi), Namdev (Shimpi-Artisan, Vaishya) and Chokhamela (Mahar).

There are also significant minorities of Muslims, Christians, Jains and Buddhists. Most Marathi Buddhists are followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar and adopted Buddhism in the last sixty years.[citation needed]

Christians account for 3%[5] of the Maharashtra population. Christianity arrived in Maharashtra in the 13th century through Portuguese Jesuit missionaries. Most of Maharashtrian Christians are Catholics and whilst some adhere to Protestantism especially in Ahmednagar.

Marathi Muslims belong mostly to the Sufi tradition.[citation needed] Visiting the tombs of Sufi saints is very important to this community. Hindus also visit these tombs in great numbers, especially during the annual Urs.

There is a 3,000 strong community of Marathi Jews, popularly known as Bene Israel. Most of the rest have migrated to Israel. Before the migration this community numbered at least 90,000.[citation needed]

Maharashtra has highest Jain population to total population ratio in the country (1.3%). The oldest inscription in Maharashtra is a 2nd-century BCE Jain inscription in a cave near Pale village in the Pune District. It was written in the Jain Prakrit and includes the Navkar Mantra. The first Marathi inscription known is at Shravanabelagola, Karnataka near the left foot of the statue of Bahubali, dated 981 CE. Maharashtra had many Jain rulers such as the Rashtrakuta dynasty and the Shilaharas. Many forts were built by kings from these dynasties and thus Jain temples or their remains are found in them. Texts such as the Shankardigvijaya and Shivlilamruta suggest that a large number of Maharashtrians were Jains in the ancient period. In present times, there are a few jains who can be described as being of the Marathi Jain ethnic group. Most of the Jains in present day Maharashtra trace their origin to either Rajasthan or Gujarat.

Castes and communities[edit]

Marathi people form an ethno-linguistic group that is distinct from others in its language, history, cultural and religious practices, social structure, literature and art.[6] However, there are many different castes and communities, with diversified traditions of their own. All Communities respect the Warkari movement which started in around 13th century. Some of the numerically large, or socially important communities include:

  • Marathas

The feudal Marathas caste make up more than 35% of the Marathi Hindu demographics. The 96 kulin Marathas are Kshatriya Warriors who established the Maratha Empire. They are mostly in Government jobs, Social Service and Film Industry. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Yashwantrao Chavan, Lalita Pawar, Pratibha Patil, Vasantdada Patil, Sharad Pawar, Prithviraj Chavhan, Rajinikanth, Vijay Bhatkar, Late Vilas Rao Deshmukh,Late Smita Patil, Sandip Patil, Kimi Katkar, Riteish Deshmukh

  • Maratha-Kunbi

The farming Maratha-Kunbi community accounts for the largest agricultural and political group in the Maharashtra region. The Maratha-Kunbi community is now the dominant political group in Maharashtra region.

On the west coast of India from Konkan, one can find large number of Bhandari population especially in Ratnagiri, Sawantwadi. Most of them trace their ancestry to Goa region though they have migrated to many places their Kuldevta and Kuldevi temples are in and around Goa and Konkan. Bhandaris are one of the oldest communities in Mumbai, and have played a significant role in its development. Bhandari Militia was the first police establishment in Mumbai during the time of British East India Company. In Mumbai, Governor Aungier formed a militia of local Bhandari youth to deal with organized street-level gangs that robbed sailors in 1669. In those days the Bhandaris were referred as Bandareens. Significant populations of Bhandaris can still be found in Mumbai. Notable people from the Bhandari community include Ramakant Achrekar, Sanjay Manjrekar, Vijay Manjrekar, Nana Patekar, Mahesh Manjrekar, Macchindra Kambli, Ramesh Bhatkar and many others.

Dhangar is one of the prominent communities in Maharashtra. The rulers of Indore, the Holkar family belong to this community. The community is divided in categories such as Hatkar, shegar, ahir, dange, kokani etc. The commnnity is included in the Nomedic Tribe(N T)section by Government of India. Ahilyabai Holkar, Maharaja Yashwant Rao Holkar are also some notable marathi Dhanagrs.

The population is mainly in Western Ghats, Marathwada. During the time of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, members of this caste were employed as spies, watchman and messengers. The caste worships Khandoba as their chief deity. At present, this caste is primarily engaged in folk arts, Government employment and self-employment. Annabhau Sathe was famous Writer of this community.

  • Brahmins

The Marathi Brahmins make up only 4%[citation needed] of the Marathi population. They are divided into six groups – Deshastha, Chitpavan, Devrukhe, Karhade, Saraswat and Daivadnya. Sant Dnyaneshwar(deshastha yajurvedi), the Peshwa rulers (Chitpavan),Moropant Pingle (Deshastha), Lokmanya Tilak (Chitpavan), Veer Savarkar (Chitpavan), Vasudeo Balwant Phadke (Chitpavan), Gopal Krishna Gokhale (Chitpavan), Chaphekar Brothers (Chitpavan), and Jagannath Shankarshet (Daivadnya[दैवज्ञ ब्राह्मण in Devnagri script]) Narayan Apte, Nathuram Godse (Chitpavan, who killed Mahatma Gandhi) are notable Brahmins from history. Sachin Tendulkar (Saraswat), Pramod Mahajan(Deshastha), late RSS Chief, Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (Karhade) are Brahmins from either contemporary times or recent history. Marathi Brahmins gave many writers,poets,sportsmen,scientists and mathematicians to the country. Marathi Brahmins performed the roles of soldiers, administrators and rulers during the times of Maratha Empire in the 17th and 18th centuries. A number of prominent 19th and early 20th century freedom fighters and social reformers from Maharashtra were Brahmins.

  • Artisan Castes

There are several artisan castes such as Sutar (carpenter caste), Mali ( Florists/Gardener), Kumbhar ( Potter), Sonar (swarnakar / Goldsmith), Teli (oil presser), Gurav ( temple priests ) and Nabhik (Barber). These communities fall under the OBC category. Other communities like the Bhavsars from the region of Nasik, Malis and Koshtis ( Weaver) from Maharashtra are economically more prosperous than their counterparts from other areas of India.

Most Marathi Hindu castes have a patron saint who belonged to their respective caste. All of these saints were part of the bhakti tradition. The list of the saints includes Sant Tukaram (Maratha caste), Savata Mali ( Mali caste), Sena Nhavi (barber caste), Chokha mela (mahar caste), Namdeo (tailor/Bhavsar/Namdev Shimpi), Gora Kumbhar (potter caste) and Sant Narhari Sonar (Sonar Caste).

  • CKP

Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP for short) is a well-educated Kshatriya-Brahmin community, This community competed with Marathi Brahmins for clerical and administrative positions under Maratha and British rule. Socially and culturally, the community is close to the Marathi Brahmin community. Baji Prabhu Deshpande, C.D. Deshmukh and the Thackeray family are the noted historic and contemporary members of the CKP caste .

  • Pathare Prabhus

Pathare Prabhu is another enterprising and educated Marathi Hindu community mainly based around Mumbai.

  • Christians

There are two distinct Christian Communities in Maharashtra; one is East Indians and concentrated in and around Mumbai, for example in Konkan districts of Thane and Raigad. Portuguese missionaries brought Catholicism to this area during 15th Century. Second are Marathi Christians who are Protestants and are found in many Parts of Maharashtra but concentrated mainly in the districts of Ahmednagar and Solapur. Protestantism was brought to these areas by American and Anglican Missionaries during 19th Century. Marathi Christian have largely retained their pre-Christian practices.

  • Konkani Muslims

Other groups include Konkani Muslims. Marathi Muslims from the Konkan region and speak the Marathi language. Other Muslims in Maharashtra tend to identify with the Islamic culture of North India and mostly speak an Urdu dialect called Dakhni.

  • Sikhs

There is a small Sikh community as well. They are called DAKHANI SIKH or Maharashtrian Sikh. They migrated from the Punjab and settled in Maharashtra about 300 years ago. They came to south with their tenth Guru Govind Singh who visited Nanded of Maharashtra in 1708. They are mostly concentrated in Nanded, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Mumbai. They are fluent in the Marathi language and only a few know Punjabi.[7]



There are many communities in the Indo-Aryan Marathi society which gives the cuisine much diversity. One can even say that the diversity extends to the family level because each family has its own combination of spices. The majority of Maharashtrians do eat meat and eggs, but the Brahmin community is mostly lacto-vegetarian. The staple food on Desh (Deccan plateau) is usually bhakri (In Maharashtra a flat bread preparation made using Indian millet called jowar, bajra or bajri), cooked vegetables, dal and rice. The North Maharashtrians prefer "roti" though. In the coastal Konkan region, rice is the traditional staple food. An aromatic variety of rice called ambemohar is more popular amongst Marathi people than the internationally known basmati rice. Malvani Food uses more of wet coconut and coconut milk in the preparation. In Vidarbha region the coconut is not used much in daily preparations but dry coconut along with peanuts is used in preparations like Spicy Savji recipes or Mutton and chicken dishes.

"Thalipeeth" is a popular traditional breakfast bread that is prepared using "Bhajani",a mixture of many different varieties of roasted lentils.

Marathi Hindu people have fasting days. On most of these fasting days, traditional staple food like rice and chhapatis are to be avoided. However, milk products and non-native foods such as potatoes, peanut and sabudana preparations are allowed which result in a full rich alternative "fasting" cuisine.

Some Maharashtrian dishes like Sev bhaji, Misal Pav, Patodi are distinctly regional dishes inside Maharashtra.

In metropolitan areas like Mumbai or Pune, the pace of life makes fast food very popular. The most popular forms of fast food popular amongst Marathi people in these areas are: Bhaji, Vada pav, Misal Pav & Pav bhaji. More traditional ones are Sabudana Khichadi, Pohe, Upma, Sheera, Panipuri. Most of marathi fast food and snacks are purely lacto-vegetarian in nature.

In South Konkan, near Malvan, an independent exotic cuisine has developed called Malvani cuisine. It is predominantly non-vegetarian. Kombdi Vade, fish preparations and baked preparations are more popular here.

Desserts are an important part of Marathi food. TelpoliPuran poli, Shrikhand, Basundi, Kheer, Gulab Jam, and Modak. Traditionally the desserts were associated with a particular festival, for example, modaks are prepared during the Ganpati festival. Pav Bhaji forms the part of Modern Marathi Foods.

Hindu Festivals[edit]

This section provides brief overview of various Hindu festivals celebrated in Maharashtra. Some of the festivals described here are celebrated all over India (e.g. Dasara, Diwali, Raksha Bandhan, etc.) with certain special traditions followed by Maharashtrian Community while others are typical Maharashtrian festivals (e.g. Ganeshotsav, Mangala Gaur, etc.). Marathi, Kannada & Telugu people follow the Deccan Shalivahana Hindu calendar which may have subtle differences with calendars followed by other communities in India.

Gudhi Padwa[edit]

First day of the month Chaitra as per Hindu Calendar (usually comes in the month of March) is celebrated as Marathi new year (also the Kannada, Telugu new year known as Ugadi) . This is the day when Sriram returned to Ayodhya after killing Ravan. At many a homes in Maharashtra, Navaratra of Lord Sriram is established from Chaitra Shudha 1 to Shuddha 9. The residents celebrated his homecoming by decorating their homes with Gudhi (victory pole). Unlike Maharashtra, in Northern India, Sriram's return to Ayodhya is celebrated on Diwali Padwa, that is 21 days after the slaying of Ravan.

Gudhi padwa is also celebrated as the day when Shalivahana defeated the Shaka rulers. The legends says he put life into mud figures of soldiers. This is one of the three-and-a-half days in the Hindu lunar calendar, whose every moment is considered auspicious. This is the day on which people start new ventures, perform housewarming poojas and buy expensive items such as gold, silver, new appliances or property. Kids perform Saraswati Pooja on this day before starting their new academic year. Padwa also marks the beginning Spring.[citation needed]

Akshaya Tritiya[edit]

The third day of the Vaishakh month is celebrated as Akshaya Tritiya. This is one of the 3 and a half most auspicious days in the Hindu Calendar (usually comes in the month of April). This marks the end of Haldi Kumkum festival which is a get-together organised by women for women. Married women invite lady friends, relatives and new acquaintances to meet in an atmosphere of merriment and fun. On such occasions, the hostess distributes bangles, sweets, small novelties, flowers, betel leaves and nuts as well as coconuts. The snacks include Kairiche Panhe (raw mango juice) and Vatli Dal(A dish prepared from crushed Chickpea pulse).

Wat savitri Purnima[edit]

This festival is celebrated on Jyeshtha Purnima (full moon day of Jyeshtha month of Hindu calendar), around June. On this day, women fast and worship the Banyan tree to pray for the growth and strength of their families, like the sprawling tree which lives for centuries. Married women visit a nearby tree and worship it by tying red threads of love around it. They pray for well-being and long life of their husband. These type of festivals makes the bond of marriage a strong one.

Ashadhi Ekadashi[edit]

Ashadhi Ekadashi (11th day of the month Ashadha, somewhere around July–August) is closely associated with Marathi Bhakti saints Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram and others. Twenty days before this day, thousands of Varkaris start their pilgrimage to Pandharpur from the resting places the saint. For example, in case of Dnyaneshwar, it starts from Alandi with Dnyaneshwar's Paduka (footwear made out of wood) in a Palakhi. Varkaris carry tals or small cymbals in their hand, wear a rosary of tulsi around their neck and sing and dance to the devotional hymns and prayers to Vitthala. People fast all over Maharashtra on this day and offer prayers in the temples. This day marks starting of Chaturmas (The four Monsoon months, from Ashadh to Kartik) as per Hindu Calendar.

Guru Purnima[edit]

The full moon day of the month Ashadha is celebrated as Guru Purnima. For Hindus 'Guru-Shishya' ('Teacher-Student') tradition is very important, be it educational or spiritual. Gurus are often equated with God and always regarded as a link between the individual and the Immortal. On this day spiritual aspirants and devotees worship Maharshi Vyasa, who is regarded as Guru of Gurus.

Divyanchi Amavasya[edit]

The new moon day/last day of Ashadh month (falls between June and July of Christian Calendar) is celebrated as Divyanchi Amavasya. This new moon day signifies the end of the month of Ashadh, and the arrival of Shravan month, considered the most pious months of all. On this day, all the traditional lamps of the house are cleaned and fresh wicks are put in. The lamps are then lit up, and worshiped. People cook a specific item called 'diva' (literally meaning lamp), prepared by steaming sweet wheat dough batter and shaping it like little lamps.

Nag Panchami[edit]

One of the many festivals in India, where Marathi people celebrate and worship the nature. Nags (Cobras) are worshiped on the fifth day of Shravan month (around August) of Hindu calendar. On Nagpanchami day, people draw a Nag family depicting the male and female snake and their nine kids (nagkul). The Nag family is worshiped and a bowl of milk and wet chandan (sandalwood powder) is offered. It is the belief that, the Nag deity visits the household, enjoys languishing in the moist chandan, drinks the milk offering and blesses the household with good luck. Women put temporary henna tattoos (mehndi) on their hand on the previous day and buy new bangles on Nag Panchami day. According to folklore, people refrain from digging the soil, cutting vegetables, frying and roasting on a hot plate on the day of Nagpanchami. Farmers do not harrow the farm on this day to prevent any accidental injury to snakes.

In a small village named Battis Shirala in Maharashtra a big snake festival is held which attracts thousands of tourists worldwide. In other parts of Maharashtra snake charmers are seen sitting by the roadsides or moving from one place to another with their baskets that hold snakes. While playing the lingering melodious notes on their pungi, they beckon devotees with their calls – "Nagoba-la dudh de Mayi" (give milk to the Cobra Oh Mother!). Women offer sweetened milk, popcorns ('lahya' in Marathi-made out of Jwari/dhan/corns) to the snakes and pray. Cash and old clothes are also given to the snake-charmers.

In Barshi Town of Solapur district, a big Jatra (Carnival) is held at Nagoba Mandir, Tilak chowk.

Narali Purnima[edit]

This festival is celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Shravan in the Hindu calendar (around month of August). This is the most important festival for the coastal region as after the rainy season, the new season for fishing starts on this day. Fishermen and women offer coconuts to the sea and ask for peaceful season and pray the sea to remain calm. The same day is celebrated as Rakhi Poornima to commemorate the abiding ties between brother and sister. Narali Bhaat (sweet rice with coconut) is the main dish on this day. On this day, the moon comes to Shravana Nakshatra. In this duration Brahmin men change their sacred thread (Janve Marathi:जानवे) at a common gathering ceremony called Shraavani(Marathi:श्रावणी).

Gukulashtami dahi-hundi celebration

Gokul Ashtami[edit]

Birthday of the Lord Krishna is celebrated with great fervour all over India on the 8th day of second fortnight of the month Shravan (usually comes in the month of August). In Maharashtra, Gokul Ashtami is synonymous with the ceremony of Dahi handi. Dahi handi is an enactment of Lord Krishna's efforts to steal butter from matka (earthen pot) suspended from the ceiling. Large earthen pots filled with milk, curds, butter, honey, fruits etc. are suspended from a height between 20 to 40 feet in the streets. Teams of young men and boys come forward to claim this prize. They construct a human pyramid by standing over each other's shoulders till the pyramid is tall enough to enable the topmost person to reach the pot and claim the contents after breaking it. Many times currency notes are tied to the rope by which the pot is suspended. The prize money is distributed among those who participate in the pyramid building. The Dahi-handi draws huge crowd and they support the teams trying to grab these pots by chanting 'Govinda ala re ala'.and

Mangala Gaur[edit]

Pahili Mangala Gaur (first Mangala Gaur) celebration is one of the most important celebration for the new brides in Marathi Brahmins. On the Tuesday of the month of the Shravan falling within an year after her marriage, the new bride performs Shivling puja for the well-being of her husband and new family. It is also a get-together of all women folks. It includes chatting, playing games, Ukhane (married women take their husband's name woven in 2/4 rhyming liners) and great food. They typically play Zimma, Fugadi, Bhendya (more popularly known as Antakshari in modern India) till the wee hours of the next morning.

Bail pola/Pithori Amavasya[edit]

Pola or Bail Pola is celebrated on the new moon day (Pithori Amavasya) of the Shravan month (usually falls in August) to pay respect to bulls for their year long hard work, as India is mostly an agricultural country. The festival is very important for the farmers. On the day of Pola, farmers take their bulls to the river and clean them thoroughly. They then decorate them by painting their horns, putting decorative shawls on their body, ornaments on their horn and flower garlands around their neck. The bulls are then taken in a joyous procession accompanied by music and dancing. Villages have fairs, competitions to celebrate this festival.

In Somvavshi and Sheshvanshi Kshatriya Communities, Pithori Amavashya is celebrated to bless a mother's sons and daughters a long life. One of the custom at the celebration includes the elder daughter-in-law of the family asking children, "Kholapur chi vaat kuthali??" ( What way to Kholapur ?) – three times . They answer "Hich hich " (This way, this way). Then she asks "mazya atithi kon?? ( Who is my guest ?) "to which the children reply "Mich mich" (Me Me). After this she gives a prasad( ritually blessed sweets) of Pithori aai.


Third day of the month of Bhadrapada (usually comes around August/September) is celebrated as Hartalika in honour of Harita Gauri or the green and golden goddess of harvests and prosperity. A lavishly decorated form of Parvati, Gauri is venerated as the mother of Ganesha. Women fast on this day and worship Shiva and Parvati in the evening with green leaves. Women wear green bangles and green clothes and stay awake till midnight. Both married and unmarried women can observe this fast


Ganesh Chaturthi[edit]

Fourth day of Bhadrapada is celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm as Ganesh Chaturthi on the in honour of Lord Ganesha, the God of wisdom. Almost every household in the state installs Ganesha idols, made out of mud and painted in water colours, at home. Early morning on this day, the clay idols of Ganesha are brought home while chanting Ganpati Bappa Morya and installed on the decorated platforms. During India's independence struggle, Lokmanya Tilak turned this festival into a public event and united people towards a common goal of throwing British colonizers out of India. The festival is still celebrated as public and private event. The festival lasts for 10 days with various cultural programmes like music concerts, orchestra, plays and skits. Some social activities are also undertaken during this period like blood donation, scholarships for the needy or donation to people suffering from any kind of natural calamity.

Gauri / Mahalakshmi[edit]

Along with Ganesha, Gauri (also known as Mahalaxmi in Vidharbha region of Maharashtra) festival is celebrated with lot of festivities in Maharashtra. This is three-day festival. On the first day, Gauris arrive at home, next day they eat lunch with variety of sweets and on the third day they return to their home. Gauris arrive in a pair, one as Jyeshta (the Elder one) and another as Kanishta (the Younger one). They are treated with lots of love since they represent the daughters arriving at their parents' place.

In many parts of Maharashtra including Marathwada & Vidarbha this festival is called Mahalakshmi or Mahalakshmya or simply Lakshmya.

Anant Chaturdashi[edit]

11th day of Ganesh festival (14th day of the month Bhadrapada) is celebrated as Anant Chaturdashi which marks the end of the Ganesh festival. People bid tearful farewell to the God by immersing the installed idols from home / public places in water by chanting 'Ganapati Bappa Morya, pudhchya warshi Lawakar ya!!' (Lord Ganesha, come early next year.) Some people also keep the traditional wow (Vrata) of Ananta Pooja. It is worship of Ananta the coiled snake or Shesha on which lord Vishnu resides. A delicious preparation of 14 vegetables is prepared as naivedyam on this day.


Starting with first day of the month of Ashvin as per Hindu calendar (around month of October), the nine-day and -night festival immediately preceding the most important festival Dasara is celebrated all over India with different traditions. In Maharashtra on the very first day of this 10-day festival, idols of Goddess Durga are installed at many homes. This installation of the Goddess is popularly known as Ghatsthapana. During this period, little girls celebrate 'Bhondla/Hadga' as the Sun moves to the thirteenth constellation of the zodiac called "Hasta" (Elephant). During the nine days, Bhondla (also known as 'Bhulabai' in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra) is celebrated in the garden or on the terrace during evening hours by inviting female friends of the daughter in the house. An elephant is drawn either with Rangoli on the soil or with a chalk on a slate and kept in the middle. The girls go around it in a circle, holding each other's hands and singing the Bhondla songs. All the Bhondla songs are traditional songs passed down the generations. The last song typically ends with the words '...khirapatila kaay ga?' ('What is the special dish today?'). This 'Khirapat' is a special dish / dishes often made laboriously by the mother of the host girl. The food is served only after the rest of the girls have guessed the covered dish/dishes correctly.

In many Brahmin families, a nine day long, Navaratra Sthapana and Poojan is a family rite. The family invites a Savaashna(Marathi:सवाष्ण )(a married lady whose husband is alive), a Brahmin (a man who follows ancient vedic tradition) and a Kumarika(Marathi:कुमारिका)(a young unmarried girl) at the auspicious lunch for nine days. In the morning and evening, the head of the family offers pooja to the goddess Durga, Lakshmi or Saraswati. On the eighth day, a special rite is carried out in some families. A statue of goddess Mahalakshmi with the face of a rice mask, is prepared and worshiped by newly married girls. In the evening, women blow into earthen or metallic pots as a worship to please the goddess. Everyone in the family accompanies them by chanting verses and Bhajans. The nine day festival ends with a Yagna or Parayan (Marathi:पारायण ). [8]


This festival is celebrated on the tenth day of the Ashvin month (around October) according to the Hindu Calendar. This is one of the 3 and a half days in the Hindu Lunar calendar, whose every moment is considered auspicious. On the last day (Dasara day), the idols installed on the first day of the Navratri are immersed in water. This day also marks the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. People visit each other and exchange sweets. On this day, people worship Aapta tree and exchange its leaves (known as golden leaves) and wish each other future like the gold. There is a legend involving Raghuraja, an ancestor of Rama, Aapta tree and Kuber. There is also another legend about Shami tree where the Pandava hid their weapons during their exile.


Short form of Sanskrit 'Ko Jagarti?' (meaning 'Who is awake?'), Kojagiri is celebrated on the full moon day of the month Ashvin. It is said that on this Kojagiri night Goddess Lakshmi visits every house asking "Ko Jagarti?" and blesses those who are awake with fortune and prosperity. To welcome the Goddess, Houses, temples, streets, etc. are illuminated. People get together on this night usually in the open space (e.g. garden or on the terrace) and play games till midnight. At midnight, after seeing reflection of full moon in the boiled milk (boiled with saffron and various varieties of dry fruits), they drink this milk. Eldest child in the household is honoured on this day.


Diwali(Marathi:दिवाळी ) is by far the most glamorous and important festival in India. Houses are illuminated with rows of clay lamps and are decorated with rangoli and aakash kandils (decorative lanterns of different shapes and sizes). Diwali is celebrated with new clothes, spectacular firecrackers and a variety of sweets in the company of family and friends. This joyous celebration is, on the whole, symbolic of dispelling the darkness of misery and bringing the light of prosperity and happiness into human life.

  • First Day: Diwali starts on the 13th day of the dark fortnight (waning moon) of the month of Ashvin (October / November). This day is known as Dhantrayodashi.
  • Second Day: The 14th day of dark fortnight is known as Naraka Chaturdashi. On this day people celebrate demon Narakasur's death by Lord Krishna. They get up early in the morning and massage their bodies with scented oil. They make use of 'utane' or 'utanah' for bath instead of soap. This special bath is referred to as 'abhyang-snan'. Utane is up made of several things having ayurvedic properties like 'chandan' (sandal wood), 'kapoor' (camphor), manjistha, rose, orange peel and haldi (turmeric).
  • Third Day: It is believed that Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, visits every house in the evening of the new Moon, so this day is celebrated as Lakshmi pujan. Every household performs worship of Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesh and money. Unlike Gujarat where Chopdapujan or closing of accounting books takes place in a temple, Marathi people do the same ceremony at home. It is customary in Maharashtra to stay at home on this night to welcome Laxmi.
  • Fourth Day: Next day which is first day of the Hindu calendar observed in North India. Marathi people celebrate this first day of month of Karthik as 'Diwalicha Padva'. This is a celebration of togetherness and love for married people. To mark the occasion wives usually receive special gifts from their husbands after the 'aukshan'(Marathi:औक्षण).
  • Fifth Day: Last day of Diwali festival is called Bhau Bij(Marathi:भाऊबीज ). On this day, sisters pray for long life of their brothers. Brothers, in turn bless their sister and pamper them with gifts.

Kartiki Ekadashi and Tulsi Vivah[edit]

11th day of the month Kartik marks the end of Chaturmas is called Kartiki Ekadashi, also known as Prabodhini Ekadashi. On this day, the Hindus, particularly the followers of Vishnu celebrate his awakening after a Yoganidra of four months of Chaturmas. People worship him and fast for the entire day.

The same evening or the evening of the next day is marked by Tulsi Vivah (Tulshicha Lagna).The Tulsi (Holy Basil plant) is held sacred by the Hindus as it is regarded as an incarnation of Mahalaxmi who was born as Vrinda. End of Diwali celebrations marks the beginning of Tulsi-Vivah. Maharashtrians organise marriage of sacred Tulsi plant in their house with Lord Krishna. On this day the Tulsi vrindavan is coloured and decorated as a bride. Sugarcane and branches of tamarind and amla trees are planted along with the tulsi plant. Though a mock marriage, all the ceremonies of an actual Maharashtrian marriage are conduncted including chanting of mantras, Mangal Ashtaka and tying of Mangal Sutra to Tulsi. Families and friends gather for this marriage ceremony which usually takes place late evening. Various poha dishes are offered to Lord Krishna and then distributed among family members and friends. This also marks the beginning of marriage season. The celebration lasts for three days and ends on Kartiki Poornima or Tripurari Poornima.

Khandoba Festival/Champa Shashthi[edit]

A six-day festival, from the first to sixth lunar day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Margashirsha, in honour of Khandoba is celebrated by many Marathi families. Ghatasthapana, similar to navaratri, also takes place in households during this festival. A number of families also hold fast during this period. The fast ends on the sixth day of the festival called Champa Shashthi. Among some Marathi Hindu communities, the Chaturmas period ends on Champa Sashthi. As it is custom in these communities not to consume onions, garlic and Egg plant during the Chaturmas, the consumption of these food stuffs resumes with ritual preparation of Bharit (Baingan Bharta) and rodga (small round flat bread prepared from Jwari ( White Millet).


Eve of Hindu festival 'Makar Sankranti'.i.e. the day before the Makar Sankranti is called Bhogi. Bhogi is Festival of happiness & enjoyment. Generally it is 13 January. It is celebrated in honour of Lord Indra, "the God of Clouds and Rains". Lord Indra is worshiped for the abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land. Since it is a winter season main food for Bhogi is curry of mixed vegetable (such as Carrots, Lima bean, Green Capsicum, Drumstick (vegetable), Green beans, Peas etc.), bajra roti (i.e. roti made up of Pearl millet) with sesame on it and rice & mung dal khichadi, eaten to keep warm in winter. Also in this festival people take baths with sesame seeds.

In Tamil Nadu and Kerala this day is celebrated as Pongal known as Thai Pongal.

Makar Sankranti[edit]

Sankraman means passing of the Sun from one Zodiac sign to the other. This day marks the Sun's passage from the Tropic of Dhanu (Sagittarius) to Makar (Capricorn). Makar Sankranti falls on 14 January in non-leap years and on 15 January in leap years. It is the only Hindu festival that is based on the solar calendar rather than the Lunar calendar. The day starts becoming longer from 14 Jan as the Sun moves from the Southern to the Northern hemisphere.

For Maharashtrians, Sankrant is the festival of friendship, a time to celebrate the old friendships, to form new ones and repair the old ones. Maharashtrians exchange sweets with each other saying "Tilgul ghyA Ani goD bolA" ("Accept tilgul (sweets) and speak sweet words"). Tilgul is a sweet concoction made out of til – sesame seeds and gul – jaggery. Friends are asked to emulate the quality of Tilgul and stick together in lasting friendship and love. Sweet rotis (bread) made from sesame seeds and jaggery called "gul-poli" is the special dish of the day. The special significance of "til" is because of its nutritive and medicinal qualities and as this festival falls in the winter season the combination of til and jaggery is extremely beneficial and nutritive. People wear black clothes on this day. Maharashtrian women wear a special black saree called 'Chandrakala' which is embossed with crescent moons and stars and married women celebrate the festival by getting together for "haldi Kumkum".

Maha Shivratri[edit]

Maha Shivratri or Maha Sivaratri or Shivaratri or Sivarathri (Great Night of Shiva or Night of Shiva) is a Hindu festival celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha (waning moon) of the month of Maagha (as per Shalivahana or Gujarati Vikrama) or Phalguna (as per Vikrama) in the Hindu Calendar (that is, the night before and day of the new moon). The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael (Bilva) leaves to the Lord Shiva, all day fasting and an all night long vigil. Per scriptural and discipleship traditions, the penances are performed in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation, in order to reach life's summum bonum steadily and swiftly.


The festival of Holi falls in Falgun, the last month of the Marathi Shaka calendar. Marathi people celebrate this festival by lighting a bonfire and offering puran poli to the fire. In North India, Holi is celebrated over two days with the second day celebrated with throwing colours. In Maharashtra it is known as Dhuli Vandan. However, Maharashtrians celebrate color throwing five days after Holi on Rangpanchami.

Village Urus or Jatra[edit]

A large number of villages in Maharashtra hold their annual festivals (Village carnival)or Urus in the months of January–May. These may be in the honour of the village Hindu deity (Gram devta) or the tomb (dargah) of a local Sufi Pir saint. Apart from religious observations, celebrations may include bullock-cart racing, kabbadi, and wrestling tournaments, a fair and entertainment such as lavani/tamasha show by travelling Dance troupes.[9][10][11] A number of families eat meat preparations only during this period. In some villages, women are given a break from cooking and other household chores by their men folk.[12]

Festivals observed by Other Communities[edit]

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanti[edit]

Fourteenth Day of April is celebrated as Dr. Ambedkar jayanti or Birthday of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, the eminent Dalit leader and architect of the Indian Constitution. He is affectionately called as Babasaheb. It is celebrated throughout the world especially by formerly oppressed communities who embraced Buddhism under his guidance. In Maharashtra, people visit Babasaheb's statue at the prominent place in procession with lot of fanfare of dhol, tasha, dance etc. throughout the day and unto late night.

Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din[edit]

On the day of Dasara, 14 October 1956 at Nagpur, Maharashtra, India, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar embraced Buddhist religion publicly and gave Diksha of Buddhist religion to his more than 500,000 followers. This is the biggest conversion happened in the history of the world. The day is celebrated as Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din. The place at which this conversion ceremony happened is known as Diksha Bhumi. Every year more than 1 million Buddhist people especially Ambedkarite from all over the world visit Diksha Bhumi on this occasion of Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din.

Buddha Poornima[edit]

On the full moon day of Vaisak month called as Buddha Poornima, three important events happened in the life of Lord Buddha. On this day he was born at Lumbini. On this day he achieved Buddhahood at Bodhgaya. On this day he died i.e. Mahaparinirvana at Kushinagar. Buddha Poornima is treated as the most auspicious day by the Buddhist people all over the world. It is celebrated in Maharashtra by Buddhist people by visiting Buddha Viharas, distributing sweets and house hold items to the needy people and listening to Dhamma discourses.

Christmas or Naataal(Marathi:नाताळ)[edit]

Christmas is celebrated to mark the birthday of Jesus Christ. Like the other parts of India, Christmas is celebrated with zeal by a large number of Marathi people whether be Christians or non-Christians. Owing to the Portuguese influence on Maharashtra, Christmas is also known as 'Naataal', a word similar to 'Natal' used in Portuguese. Commonly, the celebration begins at the Christmas Eve when the people sing carols in churches to praise the Lord and the Christ. In the following midnight, a mass is offered at the Church. The Christmas morning begins with a special Christmas prayers. The people prepare a variety of cakes for the Christmas feast.


Main article: Marathi literature

Ancient Marathi Inscriptions[edit]

Marathi was the court language during the reign of the Yadava Kings also known as Suena. The Yadava king Singhania was known for his magnanimous donations. Inscriptions of these donations are found on stone slabs in Marathi in the temple of Goddess at Kolhapur in Maharashtra. Composition of famous works of scholars like Hemadri are also found. Hemadri was also responsible for introducing a style of architecture also called Hemandpanth.[3] There are various stone inscriptions. Among them, stone inscription found at Akshi in Kolaba district is the first known stone inscription in Marathi: The one found at the bottom of the statue of Gomateshwar (Bahubali) at Shravanabelagola in Karnataka. This inscription goes like "Chamundraye karaviyale, Gangaraye suttale karaviyale" which gives some information regarding the sculptor of the statue and the king who had it constructed.[4]

Classical Literature[edit]

Marathi people have a long literary tradition which started in the ancient era BC. However, it was the 13th-century saint, Sant Dnyaneshwar who made writing in Marathi popular among the masses. His Dnyaneshwari is considered a masterpiece. Along with Dnyaneshwar, Sant Namdev was also responsible for propagating Marathi religious Bhakti literature . Namdev is also important to the Sikh tradition, since several of his compositions are enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib. Sant Eknath,[13] Sant Tukaram,[14] Mukteshwar and Samarth Ramdas were equally important figures in the 17th century. In the 18th century, writers like Vaman Pandit, Raghunath Pandit, Shridhar Pandit, Mahipati and Mororpanta produced some well-known works. All of the above mentioned writers produced religious literature.

Modern Marathi Literature[edit]

The first English Book was translated in Marathi in 1817. The first Marathi newspaper started in 1841.[15] Many books on social reforms were written by Baba Padamji (Yamuna Paryatana, 1857), Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Lokhitawadi, Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, Hari Narayan Apte (1864–1919) etc. Lokmanya Tilak's newspaper Kesari, set up in 1880, provided a platform for sharing literary views. Marathi at this time was efficiently aided by Marathi Drama.

Modern Marathi poetry began with Mahatma Jyotiba Phule's compositions. The later poets like Keshavasuta, Balkavi, Govindagraj, and the poets of RaviKiran Mandal like Madhav Julian wrote poetry which was influenced by the Romantic and Victorian English poetry. It was largely sentimental and lyrical. Prahlad Keshav Atre, the renowned satirist and a politician wrote a parody of this sort of poetry in his collection Jhenduchi Phule.

Sane Guruji (1899–1950) contributed to the children's literature in Marathi. His major works are Shyamchi Aai (Shyam's Mother), Astik (Believer), Gode Shevat (The Sweet Ending), etc. He translated and simplified many Western classics and published them in a book titled Gode Goshti (Sweet Stories). Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar's (1889–1976) Yayati won him the Jnanpith Award for 1975. He wrote many other novels, short stories, essays, etc. The poetry of Arun Kolatkar, Dilip Chitre, Mangesh Padgaonkar, C.T. Khanolkar (Arati Prabhu), Namdeo Dhasal, Suresh Bhat, Vasant Abaji Dahake, Manohar Oak and many other modernist poets is complex, rich and provocative. Bhau Padhye, Vishram Bedekar, Suhas Shirvalkar, Shyam Manohar and Vilas Sarang are well-known fiction writers.

In the second half of the 20th century, Marathi literature rose to its highest with more and more common people patronising it. Writers like Purushottam Laxman Deshpande, Va Pu Kale, Ranjeet Desai, Gangadhar Gadgil Shri D M Mirasdar Vijay Tendulkar are considered modern exemplaries.

Muslim authors have contributed to Marathi literature. Poets like Amar Shaikh and Shahir Shaikh wrote some memorable poetry. Shahir Shaikh was an important figure in the Maharashtra Ekkikaran Chalwal. The Marathi Muslim Writers Movement, which was started in Solapur by Prof. F.H.Bennur to inculcate Marathi literature among young Muslims, has acquired credibility of its own and holds its sessions regularly. Recently, authors like Hamid Dalwai contributed to the development of Marathi literature.

There is Christian contribution to Marathi literature. Many books on social reforms were written by Baba Padamji (Yamuna Paryatana, 1857) who was Christian. Jnyanodaya was begun in 1842 by Christian missionaries in Western India. The British colonial period (also known as the Modern Period) saw standardisation of Marathi grammar through the efforts of William Carey. Christian missionaries played an important role in the production of scientific dictionaries and grammars; he was the first person to translate Bible into Marathi.

In the mid fifties, the "little magazine movement" gained momentum. It published writings which were non-conformist, radical and experimental. Dalit literary movement also gained strength due to the little magazine movement. This radical movement was influenced by the philosophy of and challenged the literary establishment which was largely middle class, urban and upper caste people. The little magazine movement threw up many excellent writers. Bhalchandra Nemade is a well-known novelist, critic and poet. Dalit writer Na Dho Mahanor is well known for his work. Dr. Sharad Rane is a well-known Bal-Sahityakar and Marathi writer.[16]

Marathi names[edit]

In Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat, the naming system is similar. For example, the first name of cricketer Sunil Manohar Gavaskar is "Sunil;" "Manohar" is his father's name, and "Gavaskar" is the family name. Traditionally, married women take on their husband's given name as their middle name, in addition to adopting his family name. In Maharashtra sometimes a male newborn is named after his grandfather's name.[17]

A large number of Marathi family surnames are derived by adding the suffix "kar" to the name of the ancestral place of that family. For example, a family originally hailing from an imagininary place called XYZ may adopt as their surname, XYZkar.

Popular last names amongst Marathi Hindu people that denote profession or rank include Patil (village chief), Deshmukh (chief of 5 or 10 villages), Inamdar, Thanekar, Kulkarni (village accountant), Joshi (astrologer / priest). The surnames of Maratha rulers like Bhonsle, Jadhav Shinde, Kadam (clan), Gaikwad (which is the original name of Rajinikanth, Shivajirao Gaikwad), and Pawar and are found not only amongst 96 Maratha clans but also in other castes and sub-castes.

Some Maharastrians address men as "Rao" or "Saheb". (E.g. Sunil will be called Sunilrao.) Similarly, women's names may have the suffix "bai" or "tai" (elder sister) This is generally an informal convention, used between friends and not on official documents. Marathi/Konkani aristocrats such as those from former ruling families at times use "Sinh" or "Singh" as a suffix to their first names, for example the Maharaja of Baroda Maharaja Pratapsinh Gaekwad[18] or the Raja of Sangli/Miraj H.H. Meherban Shrimant Raja Vijaysinhrao Madhavrao Patwardhan.[19] "Kumar" is also used, at times, as a suffix to the first name, for example former Chief of Indian Army General Arunkumar Vaidya[20] or former Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde[21]

Martial Tradition[edit]

Though the ethnic Marathis have been taking up military roles for many centuries,[22] their martial qualities came to prominence in seventeenth century India, under the leadership of the legendary Maratha emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji Raje Bhosale. Shivaji carved out his independent Hindu kingdom known as the Maratha Empire, which at some point controlled practically the entire Indian subcontinent, extending over large and distant areas of India[23][24] and which reigned for almost a hundred and fifty years.[25] The Maratha Empire did not adhere to the caste system as such[26] and it drew military men from various non-Maratha/Kshatriya communities such as Mahar,[27] Kayastha,[28][29] Matang, and Brahmin.[30] Further, the empire’s naval power dominated the military scene in India for three centuries.[31] In deference to Chhatrapati Shivaji’s contribution to the naval forces, he is considered as the Father of Indian Navy.[32][33] Of the pre-1947 Martial Races of India, listed by the British, five belonged (either partially or entirely) to the Marathi community viz. Dhangars,[34] Mahars,[35] Gurjars,[34][36] Ahirs,[37] and the Marathas.[38] Even today this ethnic race is well represented in the Indian armed forces with two regiments in the Indian Army deriving its names from Marathi communities viz. the Maratha Light Infantry[31] and the Mahar Regiment.[39] They are also active in the naval and air forces with its people reaching the highest ranks such as the Chief of the Air Staff, Pradeep Vasant Naik[40] and the Chief Of the Naval Staff, Admiral Jayant Nadkarni.[41]

Marathi Diaspora[edit]

Main article: Maharashtra Mandal

Marathi population in other states of India[edit]

With the expanse of Maratha Empire all over India, the Marathi population started migrating out of Maharashtra with the rulers for jobs. The rulers from Peshwa, Holkars, Scindia and Gaekwad dynasty brought with them a considerable population of priests, clerks, clergymen, army men, businessmen and workers. These people settled in various parts of India along with their rulers since 1700s. Many families belonging to these groups still follow typical Marathi traditions even after living more than 1000 kilometers away from Maharashtra over a period of more than 100 years.[8] The families are mostly centered around Allahabad, Kanpur, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Vadodra in Gujarat and Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Sagar in Madhya Pradesh. Places like Gwalior have contributed a number of Marathi personalities including Bhaskar Ramchandra Tambe, Krishna Rao Pandit,[42] Rajabhaiyya Poochhwale, etc. Many Marathi socio-cultural organizations are set up in these cities owing to a large Marathi Speaking population.

Other than these, many people have migrated in the modern time for jobs outside Maharashtra. These people have also settled in almost all parts of the country. They have set up Maharashtra Mandal in many cities of the country . A national level central organization named Brihan Maharashtra Mandal was formed in 1958[43] to promote Marathi culture outside Maharasthtra. Several sister organizations of Brihan Maharashtra Mandal have been formed outside India as well.[44]

Marathi population abroad[edit]

A group of Marathi people also live in Nepal, where they have resided for around 17 generations. However, they write their surnames differently. They use Maharatta, Marahata, etc.

A large number of Indian people were taken in the 1830s to Mauritius to work on Sugarcane plantations. Majority of these migrants were Hindi speaking or from Southern India but also included a significant number of Marathi.[45][46]

After the state of Israel was established in 1948, the majority of Marathi Jews or Bene Israel moved there.[47]

Indians including Marathi People have been going to Europe or particularly Great Britain for more than a century. Maharashtra Mandal, London just celebrated their 75th birthday.[48] Marathi people are also found in other metropolitan areas of Great Britain such as Manchester or Birmingham. However, the numbers of Marathi people in United Kingdom are much smaller compared to the Gujarati and the Punjabi communities. Traditionally, Marathi people residing outside London have been professionals such as Doctors and engineers.

A small number of Marathi people also settled in British East Africa during the colonial era. After the African Great Lakes countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania gained independence from Britain, most of the South Asian population residing there, including Marathi people, migrated mainly to the United Kingdom or India.

Large-scale immigration of Indians into United States started when Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 came into effect. Most of the Marathi immigrants who came after 1965 were professional such as doctors, engineers or scientists. A second wave of immigration took place during the I.T. boom of 1990s and later.

Mainly due to the I.T. boom and general ease of travel, Marathi people may be found in all corners of the world including Australia,[49] Canada,[50] Gulf countries,[51] European countries,[52] Japan and China.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ethnologue report for language code:mar". Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  2. ^ The dynastic art of the Kushans, John Rosenfield, p 130
  3. ^ Richard M. Eaton (17 November 2005). A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives. Cambridge University Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-521-25484-7. 
  4. ^ Sambhaji – Patil, Vishwas, Mehta Publishing House, Pune, 2006
  5. ^ "Maharashtra Religion, Religion of Maharashtra, Maharashtra Major Religion". Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  6. ^ Changing India: bourgeois revolution on the subcontinent By Robert W. Stern, Pg 20
  7. ^ People of India: Maharashtra, Volume 1 By Kumar Suresh Singh, B. V. Bhanu, Anthropological Survey of India, p 463
  8. ^ a b Gangadhar Ramchandra Pathak (Marathi गंगाधर रामचन्द्र पाठक), ed. (1978). Gokhale Kulavruttant( Marathi:गोखले कुलवृत्तान्त) (in Marathi(मराठी )) (2nd ed.). Pune, India: Sadashiv Shankar Gokhale(Marathi:सदाशिव शंकर गोखले). pp. 120,137. 
  9. ^ Shodhganga. "Sangli District". Shodhganga. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "Maharashtra asks high court to reconsider ban on bullock cart races". Times of india. Oct 19, 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  11. ^ TALEGAON DASHASAR - The Gazetteers Department. The Gazetteers Department, Maharashtra. 
  12. ^ Betham, R. M. (1908). Maráthas and Dekhani Musalmáns. Calcutta. p. 71. ISBN 81-206-1204-3. 
  13. ^ "Sant Eknath Maharaj". Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Printing India". Printing India. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  17. ^ "names". 
  18. ^ Clifford Sawhney (1 January 2003). Strange But True Facts. Pustak Mahal. p. 18. ISBN 978-81-223-0839-6. 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
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