Marathi Christians

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Marathi Christian
Marathi Christi
Regions with significant populations
India India (Maharashtra) ~1.06 million

Christianity,Roman Catholic (रोमन कैथोलिक )

predominantly ProtestantProtestantismstant (Anglican, Methodist, evangelical) with a minority.
Related ethnic groups
Marathi people, Indo-Aryans

Marathi Christians or Marathi Christi (Marathi: मराठी ख्रिस्ती) are an ethno-religious community residing in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Only three percent of people in Maharashtra are Christians.

Marathi Christians are one of two Christian ethnic communities in Maharashtra. The other group, East Indians, are predominantly Catholic, and are concentrated in coastal Maharashtra, especially the districts of Thane, Mumbai. Most Marathi Christians are Roman Catholic and Protestants living in Ahmednagar, Solapur, Nashik, Pune, Aurangabad, and Jalna. The few Catholics are often immigrants from Goa and Mangalore missions. Ecumenical cooperation between Catholic and Protestant Marathi Christians is generally greater than in other communities, and the literacy rate of Marathi Christians is very high. St Thomas is one of the apostles St francis Xavier St Gonzalo Garcia St Alfonsa St Joseph vaz and Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata Are the saints who worked tirelessly for this great religion


Most Marathi Christians are converts from Hinduism, as a result of Christian missions such as the American Marathi Mission, Church Mission Society, and the Church of England's SPG Mission.[1] Around the turn of the 19th century, British Baptist missionary William Carey was instrumental in translating the Bible into the Marathi language.[2] Literate Hindu converts from high castes, such as Brahmin, often served as religious instructors to others.

In Ahmednagar, several high class Hindus also converted to Christianity, such as In 1842 Ramkrishna Modak, a Chitpavan Brahman and ancestor of Marathi actor Shahu Modak and became Rev. Modak, and Narayan Waman Tilak, also one Muslim, Shaikh dadud.[3] Although today the Ahmednagar district has a fairly large number of Christians, these people identify as Indians first and Christians second. Addressing the aggressive American Marathi Mission, Tilak said "Pack up yea your belongings and be gone, if you do not love this sacred land of Hindus." [4]

Church in Miri-Maka


Marathi Christian culture resembles that of Hindu culture in areas such as dress and cuisine. Many Marathi Christians maintain the Hindu customs of mangalsutras, and decoration of brides and grooms with turmeric.

The Marathi poet Narayan Wamanrao Tilak believed a Hindu-Christian synthesis was impossible unless the native Christian religion had deep roots in Indian culture, so he trained Marathi Christians to worship and sing bhajans and kirtans.

Most Christian converts in Ahmednagar kept their Hindu names, but preferred Christian names for their children. Christians from Ahmednagar form one endogamous community, although the Hindu caste system still affects marriage patterns.

By district[edit]


Church in Vadule village

In 1831, during famine, missionaries came to the area for pursuing the humanitarian mission along with to convey the message of Christ to them. They were mostly Protestant missions from America, and very few Catholic. While the Savkars of the area felt themselves satisfied in giving Sahastra Bhojnas to Brahmans, they hardly interested or had any imagination to organise famine relief for the poor. It was the missionaries who took the lead in this humanitarian work to the untouchables.

In 1842, one organisation Dnyanodaya started to Cater the poor by few Missionaries like, Mrs. Allan & reed, Later followed by Rev. Farebank and Rev. Hume. There were women missionaries who be-friended with the local ladies and carried the message of Christ door to door amongst high and low cast. They were persecuted, insulted, once by dirty water being thrown at a woman missionary. Gradually the message of Christ influenced the minds of some high class Hindus, Acceptance of Christianity by a few upper class Hindus raised a hue and cry in the coterie of Hindus which so long had kept quiet in spite of the hundreds of low caste converts.

As of 2000, Christians make up 10 percent of the Ahmednagar population, a significant number of whom are located in the eastern part of the district like, Nevasa, Pathardi, Shevgaon, Rahuri and Ahmednagar The followers of the American Marathi Mission are found throughout the Ahmednagar district, except in the southwest.[5] A majority of them are Protestants, and the largest denomination is the Church of North India. Most villages has their own churches. Most Christians in Ahmednagar are part of the Mahar social group; where in other part of Maharashtra, many of these people converted to Buddhism.


Christians are found throughout Nashik, although they only account for .13 percent of the population. The only Christian village is Sharanpur, or the City of Refuge, which was founded by the Reverend W.S. Price of the Church Mission Society in 1854. In 1860, the mission established an asylum in Mumbai for freed African slaves, who were taught to read and write Marathi and English. In 1874, the asylum was disestablished, and the former slaves returned to Kenya, where they formed a Christian village in Mombasa.[6]

Crucession of Marathi Christians in the Church of North India on Christmas


According to the 1951 census the Christian Population of the Pune district was 37,243, including Europeans, Anglo-Indians. However, emigration since then has made the Christian community of Pune almost exclusively Indian, and governed to a great extent by Indian priests and pastors. About half of Pune Catholics are of Goan origins, descendents of early Goan Christians who came to serve as gunners in the Marathan army. Protestant churches in the district include St. Paul Church, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, and the Church of Holy Angels, Rasta Peth. Catholic churches include St. Patrick Cathedral, St. Francis Xavier, St. Anne, and Immaculate Conception.[7]


Most Christians in Solapur are natives converted by the American Marathi Mission, which was established in Solapur in 1862. Solapur Christians have partnerships with their Ahmednagar counterparts, with whom they share a common local culture.[8]


The American Free Methodist church maintains missions at Yavatmal, Wani, Umri, Rajur and Darwah.[9]

Notable Marathi Christians[edit]

  • Chandu Borde is a former cricket player from the Pune district. He played for the Indian cricket team in 83 matches between 1958 and 1969. His younger brother Ramesh was also a noteworthy cricket player.
  • Vijay Hazare was a cricket player from the Solapur district. He captained the Indian cricket team in fourteen matches between 1951 and 1953. He also captained Baroda, with whom he won the Ranji Trophy in 1959. Hazare is considered by many to be one of the best middle-order bats to play for India.
  • Shahu Modak was a Marathi/Hindi movie actor from Ahmednagar. He primarily acted as Lord Krishna in 29 mythological films.
  • Baba Padamji was a Brahmin and a Christian convert. An author of over 100 books, his Yamunaparyatan is considered the first novel of Marathi literature.
  • Pandita Ramabai was a social reformer, activist, and evangelist. She was born a Brahmin and later converted to Christianity.
  • Lakshmibai Tilak, the wife of Narayan Wamanrao Tilak, was a writer who received recognition for her autobiography Smruti Chitre (स्मृतिचित्रे). When her husband died in the process of writing Khristayana (क्रिस्तायन), a Marathi epic about the life of Jesus, she completed it, adding 64 chapters of her own.
  • Narayan Wamanrao Tilak, the husband of Lakshmibai Tilak, was a Marathi poet born in Maharashtra as Brahmin. He converted to Christianity, and later wrote many Christian songs and bhajans in Marathi.

Rt Rev. Bishop Dominc Abrio Rt Rev. Bishop Thomas Bhalerao

  • Harish Salve, Renowned Jurist.
  • N. K. P. Salve, Former Union Minister and Congress Leader from Vidarbha.
  • Dr. Rajanikant Arole, Magasayse award winner and Padmabhushan.
  • [Rev.Bhaskar B.Kasote],Writer.{Rev.Arvind Kasote},SocialWorker.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]