Marathi people

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Marathis/Maharashtrians मराठी/महाराष्ट्रीय माणसे
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Total population
90 to 100 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, United Arab Emirates.
Marathi, Malwani, Varhadi
Predominantly Hinduism, minorities of Islam, 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 (Devnagari/Marathi: मराठी माणसे, marāṭhī mānasé or महाराष्ट्रीय माणसे, mahārāSṭrīya mānasé) are an ethnic group of India that inhabits the Maharashtra region and as well as some border districts such as Belagavi of Karanataka and Madgaon of Goa states in 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 term 'Maharashtrian' is derived from the Indian state of Maharashtra, homeland of the Marathi people. It is often wrongly used interchangeably with 'Marathi', which refers to the original residents of Maharashtra state together with their culture, language and history. These also include the huge number of people who migrated to Maharashtra from other regions of India and who may or may not be part of the original cultural and linguistic group.

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


In the earliest surviving records, the region now known as Maharashtra is referred to as Dandakaranyas, which means "Forest of strict norms" (dandak - strict 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 according to the Ramayana. Around 600 BC, the region today known as Maharashtra was one of the mahajanapadas and known as Assaka. According to the Ramayana, Lakshman chopped off the nose (nasika in Sanskrit) of Ravana's sister Shurpanakha in Panchavati, near the city of Nasik. It is not known whether this predated the arrival of the Aryans or whether this region was inhabited by other civilisations.

The earliest example of the existence of Marathi as an independent language dates back more than 2,000 years. A shilalekh (stone carving) discovered in the Junnar taluka of Pune refers to the Maharathi language. Various references have been gathered that equate Maharashtrian Parkit, Maharathi and Desi with that of present day Marathi.[citation needed]

During ancient period around 230 BCE Maharashtra came under the rule of the Satavahana dynasty which ruled the region for 400 years.[2] The greatest ruler of the Satavahana Dynasty was Gautamiputra Satakarni. The Vakataka dynasty ruled Maharashtra from the 3rd century to the 5th century.[3] The Chalukya dynasty ruled Maharashtra from the 6th century to the 8th century and the two prominent rulers were Pulakesi II, who defeated the north Indian Emperor Harsha and Vikramaditya II, who defeated the Arab invaders in the 8th century. The Rashtrakuta Dynasty ruled Maharashtra from the 8th to the 10th century.[4] The Arab traveler Sulaiman called the ruler of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty (Amoghavarsha) as "one of the 4 great kings of the world".[5] From the early 11th century to the 12th century the Deccan Plateau was dominated by the Western Chalukya Empire and the Chola dynasty.[6] The Seuna dynasty, also known as the Yadav dynasty ruled Maharashtra from the 13th century to the 14th century.[7] The Yadavas were defeated by the Khiljis in 1321.

Afer the Yadav defeat, the area was ruled for the next 300 years by a succession of Muslim rulers including in the chronological ordr, the Khiljis , the Tughlaqs, the Bahamani Sultanate and its successor states such as Adilshahi and Nizamshahi and the Mughal Empire.

In the mid-17th century, Shivaji Maharaj founded the Maratha Empire by reclaiming the Desh and the Konkan region from the Adilshahi. After a lifetime of exploits and a series of conquests, Shivaji died in 1680.[citation needed] The Mughals, who had lost significant 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 captured, tortured and killed by Aurangzeb.[8] Ganoji's hunger for Maratha land in the form of vatans led to enmity with Sambhaji. Sambhaji, like his father, Shivaji Maharaj, had abolished the custom of giving away vatans, as this led to the people's suffering at the hands of the vatandar, who might also assuming kingship or take possession of their watans.

With their leader dead, the Marathas were demoralised, but when the young Rajaram ascended the throne, the Maratha crown prince had to retreat to Jinji in South India. 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 power to Peshwa. The empire was expanded by many Maratha including the Shinde, Nikam, Gaekwad, Pawar, Bhonsale and Holkar, Jadhav, Peshwa 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 under the Peshwa 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 East India Company defeated Peshwa Bajirao II. Nevertheless, several Maratha states remained as vassals of the British until 1947 when they acceded to the Dominion of India.


Genetic analysis suggests that Indian populations, including those of the state of Maharashtra, are largely derived from Paleolithic ancient settlers. However, a more recent (∼10,000 years or older) detectable paternal gene flow from west Asia is well reflected in a more recent study. These findings reveal movement of populations to Maharashtra via the western coast rather than through the mainland where the Western Ghat-Vindhya mountains and the Narmada-Tapti rivers might have acted as a natural barrier. Traces of East Asian genes can be found in the various caste groups of the Marathas, Brahmins and Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus.[citation needed] Some Marathis are considered as belonging to the Scytho-Dravidian type (such as the Maratha Brahmans and Kunbis)[9][10][11]


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 deities of the Shiva family such as Shankar and Parvati under various names as well as Ganesh. However, Khandoba remains the most popular family deity in Maharashtra. The Warkari tradition maintains a strong grip on local Hindus. 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) [Kahiba Maharaj] (Gurav)and Chokhamela (Mahar).

Buddhists, Jains and Christians constituted 6%, 1.34%, 1.09% respectively.[12] Most Marathi Buddhists are followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar and have adopted Buddhism in the last sixty years.

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 emigrated to Israel. Before the migration the community numbered at least 90,000.[citation needed]

Castes and communities[edit]

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

The feudal Maratha caste along with the Maratha kunbi account for more than 35% of the Marathi Hindu population. The 96 Kuli[disambiguation needed] Marathas are Kshatriya Warriors. The founder of the Maratha Empire, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj belonged to this caste. They mostly work in agriculture, government jobs, social services and the film industry. Examples of this caste and the related Maratha-kunbi caste include, 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 and Riteish Deshmukh

  • Maratha-Kunbi

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

There are large number of Bhandaris in Maharashtra, especially in Ratnagiri and Sawantwadi, who originate from the Konkan region on the west coast of India. Most of them trace their ancestry to the Goa region. Although they have migrated to many places, their Kuldevta and Kuldevi temples are found in and around Goa and Konkan. Bhandaris are one of the oldest communities in Mumbai, and have played a significant role in its development. The Bhandari Militia was the first police force 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 to 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 into categories including hatkar, shegar, ahir, dange and kokani. The community is included in the Nomadic Tribe (NT) classification by the Government of India. Ahilyabai Holkar, Maharaja Yashwant Rao Holkar are some notable Marathi Dhanagrs.

This caste is mainly found in the Western Ghats and 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 group is primarily engaged in folk arts as well as government and self-employment. Annabhau Sathe was a noted writer from 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,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. The Marathi Brahmins have produced many writers, poets, sportsmen, scientists and mathematicians. They performed the roles of soldiers, administrators and rulers during Maratha Empire era 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 (carpenters), Mali ( florists/gardeners), Kumbhar (potters), Sonar (swarnakar / goldsmiths), Teli (oil pressers), Gurav (temple priests) and Nabhik (barbers). These communities fall under the Other Backward Class (OBC) classification. Other communities like the Bhavsars from the Nasik region along with Malis and Koshtis (weavers) 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 form 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)Kashiba Maharaj(Gurav caste).

  • CKP

The Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP) is a well-educated Kshatriya-Brahmin community. They 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 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

Portuguese missionaries brought Catholicism to this area during 15th Century giving rise to one of the two distinct Christian Communities in Maharashtra —the East Indians concentrated in and around Mumbai, for example in the Konkan districts of Thane and Raigad. The second community are Protestant Marathi Christians who 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 the 19th Century.

  • Konkani Muslims

Other groups include Konkani Muslims, Marathi Muslims from the Konkan region who 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 also a small Sikh community called Dakhani or Maharashtrian Sikhs who migrated from the Punjab and settled in Maharashtra around 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.[14]



The many communities in Indo-Aryan Marathi society result in a diverse cuisine. This diversity extends to the family level because each family uses its own unique combination of spices. The majority of Maharashtrians do eat meat and eggs, but the Brahmin community is mostly lacto-vegetarian. The traditional staple food on Desh (the Deccan plateau) is usually bhakri, spiced cooked vegetables, dal and rice. Bhakri is an Unleavened bread made using Indian millet (jowar), bajra or bajri'. . However, the North Maharashtrians and Urban people prefer roti, which is a plain bread made with Wheat flour. In the coastal Konkan region, rice is the traditional staple food. An aromatic variety of ambemohar rice is more popular amongst Marathi people than the internationally known basmati rice. Malvani dishes use more wet coconut and coconut milk in their preparation. In the Vidarbha region, little coconut is used in daily preparations but dry coconut, along with peanuts, are used in dishes such as spicy savjis or mutton and chicken dishes.

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

Marathi Hindu people observe fasting days when traditional staple food like rice and chapatis are avoided. However, milk products and non-native foods such as potatoes, peanuts and sabudana preparations are allowed, which result in a Carbohydrate rich alternative fasting cuisine.

Some Maharashtrian dishes including sev bhaji, misal pav and patodi are distinctly regional dishes within Maharashtra.

In metropolitan areas including Mumbai and Pune, the pace of life makes fast food very popular. The most popular forms of fast food amongst Marathi people in these areas are: bhaji, vada pav, misal pav and pav bhaji. More traditional dishes are sabudana khichadi, pohe, upma, sheera and panipuri. Most 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, which is predominantly non-vegetarian. Kombdi vade, fish preparations and baked preparations are more popular here.

Desserts are an important part of Marathi food and include puran poli, shrikhand, basundi, kheer, gulab jamun, and modak. Traditionally, these desserts were associated with a particular festival, for example, modaks are prepared during the Ganpati Festival.


 Traditional Maharashtrian dresses
Women wearing lugade (nauwar), a traditional nine yard sari

Traditionally, Marathi women commonly wore the sari, often distinctly designed according to local cultural customs.[15] Most middle aged and young women in urban Maharashtra dress in western outfits such as skirts and trousers or shalwar kameez with the traditionally nauvari or nine-yard sari, disappearing from the markets due to a lack of demand.[16] Older women wear the five-yard sari. In urban areas, the five-yard sari is worn by younger women for special occasions such as marriages and religious ceremonies.[17] Among men, western dressing has greater acceptance. Men also wear traditional costumes such as the dhoti and pheta on cultural occasions. The Gandhi cap along with a long white shirt and loose pajama style trousers is the popular attire among older men in rural Maharathra.[15][18][19] Women wear traditional jewelleries derived from Marathas and Peshwas dynasties. Kolhapuri saaj, a special type of necklace, is also worn by Marathi women.[15] In urban areas, many women and men wear western attire.[19]

Hindu Festivals[edit]

Marathi Hindu people celebrate most of the all India Hindu festivals like Dasara, Diwali and Raksha Bandhan . These are, however, celebrated with certain Maharashtrian regional variations. Others festivals like Ganeshotsav have a more characteristic Marathi flavour.

The Marathi, Kannada and Telugu people follow the Deccan Shalivahana Hindu calendar, which may have subtle differences with calendars followed by other communities in India. The festivals described below are in a chronological order as they occur during a Shaka year, starting with Shaka new year celebrations or Gudhi Padwa.

Gudhi Padwa[edit]

The first day of the month of Chaitra according to the Hindu Calendar, (usually in March) is celebrated as Marathi new year and also as the Kannada and 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 celebrate his homecoming by decorating their homes with a gudhi or victory pole. Unlike in 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 and when legend says that 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. People start new ventures on this day, perform housewarming poojas and buy expensive items such as gold, silver, new appliances or property. Children perform Saraswati Pooja on this day before starting their new academic year. Padwa also marks the beginning of Spring.[citation needed]

Akshaya Tritiya[edit]

The third day of Vaishakh is celebrated as Akshaya Tritiya. This is one of the three and a half most auspicious days in the Hindu Calendar and usually occurs in the month of April. This marks the end of the 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 chickpeas.

Vat Savitri Purnima[edit]

This Vat Purnima festival is celebrated on Jyeshtha Purnima (full moon day of the Jyeshtha month in the 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 a long life for their husband.

Ashadhi Ekadashi[edit]

Ashadhi Ekadashi (11th day of the month of Ashadh, somewhere around July–August) is closely associated with the Marathi Bhakti saints Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram and others. Twenty days before this day, thousands of varkaris start their pilgrimage to Pandharpur from the resting places of the saint. For example, in the 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 necks and sing and dance to the devotional hymns and prayers to Vitthala. People all over Maharashtra fast on this day and offer prayers in the temples. This day marks the start of Chaturmas (The four monsoon months, from Asharh to Kartik) according to the Hindu Calendar.

Guru Purnima[edit]

The full moon day of the month of Ashadh 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 the month of Ashadh (falls between June and July of Christian Calendar) is celebrated as Divyanchi Amavasya. This new moon signifies the end of the month of Ashadh, and the arrival of the month of Shravan, which is 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 and worshipped. People cook a specific item called diva (literally lamp), prepared by steaming sweet wheat dough batter and shaping it like little lamps.

Nag Panchami[edit]

One of the many festivals in India during which Marathi people celebrate and worship nature. Nags (cobras) are worshiped on the fifth day of the month of Shravan (around August) in the Hindu calendar. On Nagpanchami Day, people draw a nag family depicting the male and female snake and their nine offspring or nagkul. The nag family is worshiped and a bowl of milk and wet chandan (sandalwood powder) offered. It is believed 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 Nagpanchami Day. According to folklore, people refrain from digging the soil, cutting vegetables, frying and roasting on a hot plate on this day while farmers do not harrow their farms 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 from all over the world. In other parts of Maharashtra, snake charmers are seen sitting by the roadsides or moving from one place to another with their baskets holding 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, popcorn (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 in the Solapur district, a big jatra (carnival) is held at Nagoba Mandir in Tilak chowk.

Narali Purnima[edit]

Narali Purnima is celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Shravan in the Shaka Hindu calendar (around August). This is the most important festival for the coastal Konkan region because the new season for fishing starts on this day. Fishermen and women offer coconuts to the sea and ask for a peaceful season while praying for the sea to remain calm. The same day is celebrated as Rakhi Pournima to commemorate the abiding ties between brother and sister in Maharashtra as well other parts of Northern India. Narali bhaat (sweet rice with coconut) is the main dish on this day. On this day, 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]

The birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated with great fervour all over India on the 8th day of second fortnight of the month Shravan (usually in the month of August). In Maharashtra, Gokul Ashtami is synonymous with the ceremony of dahi handi. This is a reenactment of Lord Krishna's efforts to steal butter from a matka (earthen pot) suspended from the ceiling. Large earthen pots filled with milk, curds, butter, honey, fruits etc. are suspended at a height of between 20 and 40 feet (6.1 and 12.2 m) in the streets. Teams of young men and boys come forward to claim this prize. They construct a human pyramid by standing on each other's shoulders until the pyramid is tall enough to enable the topmost person to reach the pot and claim the contents after breaking it. Currency notes are often 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'.

Mangala Gaur[edit]

Pahili Mangala Gaur (first Mangala Gaur) is one of the most important celebrations for the new brides amongst Marathi Brahmins. On the Tuesday of the month of the Shravan falling within a 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 folk. It includes chatting, playing games, ukhane (married women take their husband's name woven in 2/4 rhyming liners) and sumptuous food. They typically play zimma, fugadi, bhendya (more popularly known as Antakshari in modern India) until the early hours of the following morning.

Bail pola/Pithori Amavasya[edit]

Pola or Bail Pola is celebrated on the new moon day (Pithori Amavasya) of the month of Shravan, which 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 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 horns 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 the Somvavshi and Sheshvanshi Kshatriya communities, Pithori Amavashya is celebrated to bless a mother's sons and daughters and wish them a long life. One of the customs 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 out prasad (ritually blessed sweets) of pithori aai.


The third day of the month of Bhadrapada (usually 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 may observe this fast.

In Hartalika, collect green leaves of fruits,flowers,one corn,one gava etc. each green leaves of fruit is five means 5 chapa flower leaves, 5 leaves of mango etc. Make pind of shiva with help of sand, worship for pind with collected leaves,flowers,fruits of tress. all day in mind- say " Om Nam Shivay ". pray to shiva for unmarried women, will get husband as i like.


Ganesh Chaturthi[edit]

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the fourth day of Bhadrapada in honour of Lord Ganesha, the God of wisdom. Hindu households install in their house, Ganesha idols made out of clay called shadu and painted in water colours. Early in the morning on this day, the clay idols of Ganesha are brought home while chanting Ganpati Bappa Morya and installed on decorated platforms. In 1894, Lokmanya Tilak turned this festival into a public event as means of uniting people towards the common goal of campaigning against British colonial rule. The festival is still celebrated as public and private household events respectively. The festival lasts for 11 days with various cultural programmes including 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 the Vidharbha region of Maharashtra) festival is celebrated in Maharashtra. On the first day of the three day festival, Gauris arrive home, the next day they eat lunch with a 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 love since they represent the daughters arriving at their parents' home.

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

Anant Chaturdashi[edit]

The 11th day of the Ganesh festival (14th day of the month of Bhadrapada) is celebrated as Anant Chaturdashi, which marks the end of the celebration. People bid a tearful farewell to the God by immersing the installed idols from home / public places in water and 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. This invoves the worship of Ananta the coiled snake or Shesha on which lord Vishnu resides. A delicious mixture of 14 vegetables is prepared as naivedyam on this day.

Navratri and Ghatsthapana[edit]

Starting with first day of the month of Ashvin in the Hindu calendar (around the 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 first day of this 10-day festival, idols of the 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 Bhondla songs. All Bhondla songs are traditional songs passed down through 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 or dishes often made laboriously by the mother of the host girl. The food is served only after the rest of the girls have guessed what the covered dish or dishes are correctly.

There are some variations about how the Navratri festival is celebrated. For example, in many Brahmin families, celebrations include offering lunch for nine days to specially invited group of guests. The guests include a Married Woman (Marathi:सवाष्ण ), a Brahmin and, a Virgin (Marathi:कुमारिका). In the morning and evening, the head of the family ritually worships to either 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 of that day, women blow into earthen or metallic pots as a form of 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 reading of a Hindu Holy book (Marathi:पारायण ). [20]


This festival is celebrated on the tenth day of the Ashvin month (around October) according to the Hindu Calendar. This is one of the three and a half most auspicious days in the Hindu Lunar calendar, when every moment is important. 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 the Aapta tree and exchange its leaves (known as golden leaves) and wish each other future like gold. There is a legend involving Raghuraja, an ancestor of Rama, the Aapta tree and Kuber. There is also another legend about the Shami tree where the Pandava hid their weapons during their exile.


Written in the short form of Sanskrit as 'Ko Jagarti?' (meaning 'Who is awake?'), Kojagiri is celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Ashvin. It is said that on this Kojagiri night, the 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 open spaces (e.g. in gardens or on terraces) and play games until midnight. At that hour, after seeing the reflection of the full moon in milk boiled with saffron and various varieties of dry fruits, they drink the concoction. The eldest child in the household is honoured on this day.


Main article: Diwali

Diwali (Marathi:दिवाळी ) is by far the most glamorous and important festival in India. Houses are illuminated with rows of clay lamps and 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 the Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesh and money. Unlike in Gujarat, where Chopdapujan or closing of accounting books takes place in a temple, Marathi people do the same ceremony at home. The Goddess is offered a Prasad of Dhane, Gul, Wheat popcorns and Batasha. It is customary in Maharashtra to stay at home on this night to welcome Laxmi.
  • Fourth Day: This is the first day of the Hindu calendar observed in North India. Marathi people celebrate this day 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: The last day of Diwali festival is called Bhau Bij (Marathi:भाऊबीज ). On this day, sisters pray for long life for their brothers. Brothers, in turn bless their sister and pamper them with gifts. This festival has parallels with Rakshabandhan except that for Bhaubij the brother visits his sister's house but for Rakshabandhan the sister comes to the brother the Rakhee.

Kartiki Ekadashi and Tulsi Vivah[edit]

The 11th day of the month of Kartik marks the end of Chaturmas and is called Kartiki Ekadashi (also known as Prabodhini Ekadashi). On this day, 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. The end of Diwali celebrations marks the beginning of Tulsi-Vivah. Maharashtrians organise the marriage of a 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 conducted including chanting of mantras, Mangal Ashtaka and tying of Mangal Sutra to the Tulsi. Families and friends gather for this marriage ceremony which usually takes place in the 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 fasts 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 customary in these communities not to consume onions, garlic and egg plant (Brinjal / Aubergine) during the Chaturmas, the consumption of these food items resumes with ritual preparation of Bharit (Baingan Bharta) and rodga, small round flat breads prepared from jwari (white millet).


The eve of the Hindu festival 'Makar Sankranti' and the day before is called Bhogi. Bhogi is a festival of happiness and enjoyment and generally takes place on 13 January. It is celebrated in honour of Lord Indra, "the God of Clouds and Rains". Lord Indra is worshiped for the abundance of the harvest, which brings plenty and prosperity to the land. Since it is held in the winter, the main food for Bhogi is mixed vegetable curry made with carrots, lima beans, green capsicums, drumsticks, green beans and peas. Bajra roti (i.e. roti made of Pearl millet) topped with sesame as well as rice and mung dal khichadi are eaten to keep warm in winter. During this festival people also take baths with sesame seeds.

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

Makar Sankranti[edit]

Sankraman means the passing of the sun from one zodiac sign to the next. 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 old friendships, to form new ones and repair 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 tilsesame seeds and guljaggery. 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" are 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 nutritious. People wear black clothes on this day. Maharashtrian women wear a special black saree called a 'Chandrakala' which is embossed with crescent moons and stars while married women celebrate the festival by getting together for "haldi kumkum".

Maha Shivratri[edit]

Maha Shivratri, Maha Sivaratri, Shivaratri or Sivarathri (Great Night of Shiva or Night of Shiva) is a Hindu festival celebrated every year on the 13th night and 14th day of 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 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 carnivals) 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, wrestling tournaments, a fair and entertainment such as a lavani/tamasha show by travelling dance troupes.[21][22][23] 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.[24]

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 believed to be the largest conversion by number of people at a single event in the history of the world. The day is celebrated as Dharmacakra Pravartan Din. The place at which this conversion ceremony happened is known as Deekshabhoomi. Every year more than 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 in other parts of India, Christmas is celebrated with zeal by a large number of Marathi people, both Christians and 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 followed by midnight mass offered at the Church. The Christmas morning begins with a special Christmas prayer. The people prepare a variety of cakes for the Christmas feast.


Main article: Marathi literature

Ancient Marathi Inscriptions[edit]

Marathi, also known as Suena at that time, was the court language during the reign of the Yadava Kings. Yadava king Singhania was known for his magnanimous donations. Inscriptions recording these donations are found written in Marathion on stone slabs in the temple at Kolhapur in Maharashtra. Composition of noted works of scholars like Hemadri are also found. Hemadri was also responsible for introducing a style of architecture called Hemandpanth.[3] Among the various stone inscriptions are those found at Akshi in the Kolaba district, which are the first known stone inscription in Marathi.An example found at the bottom of the statue of Gomateshwar (Bahubali) at Shravanabelagola in Karnataka bears the inscription "Chamundraye karaviyale, Gangaraye suttale karaviyale" which gives some information regarding the sculptor of the statue and the king who ordered its construction.[4]

Classical Literature[edit]

Marathi people have a long literary tradition which started in the ancient era. 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,[25] Sant Tukaram,[26] 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 into Marathi in 1817 while the first Marathi newspaper started in 1841.[27] Many books on social reform 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. Later poets such as Keshavasuta, Balkavi, Govindagraj, and the poets of the Ravi Kiran Mandal including Madhav Julian wrote largely sentimental and lyrical poetry which was influenced by Romantic and Victorian English works. 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 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 also wrote many other novels, short stories and essays. 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 apogee with more and more common people patronising it. Writers like Purushottam Laxman Deshpande, Va Pu Kale, Ranjeet Desai, Gangadhar Gadgil and 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 a credibility of its own and holds sessions regularly. Recently, authors like Hamid Dalwai have contributed to the development of Marathi literature.

Christian contributions to Marathi literature include the many books on social reform written by Baba Padamji (Yamuna Paryatana, 1857). 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, who was the first person to translate the Bible into Marathi. Christian missionaries also played an important role in the production of scientific dictionaries and grammars.

In the mid fifties, the "little magazine movement" gained momentum. It published writings which were non-conformist, radical and experimental. The 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. The little magazine movement threw up many excellent writers including the well-known novelist, critic and poet Bhalchandra Nemade. Dalit writer Na Dho Mahanor is well known for his work while Dr. Sharad Rane is a well-known Bal-Sahityakar and Marathi writer.[28]

Visual art and architecture[edit]


Performing arts[edit]

Film and theater[edit]

Marathi names[edit]

First and Second Names[edit]

Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat have similar naming systems. 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 the husband's family name. In Maharashtra, a male newborn is sometimes given his grandfather's name.[citation needed]


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

Popular last names amongst Marathi Hindu people that denote profession or rank include Patil (village chief), Deshmukh (chief of five or ten villages), Inamdar, Thanekar, Kulkarni (village accountant), Joshi (astrologer/priest). The surnames of Maratha rulers like Bhonsle, Jadhav, Mahadik, Shinde, Kadam (clan), Gaikwad (which is the original name of Rajinikanth, Shivajirao Gaikwad), and Pawar and are found not only among the 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, and not always 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[29] "Kumar" is also used, at times, as a suffix to the first name, for example former Chief of Indian Army General Arunkumar Vaidya[30] or former Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde[31]

Martial Tradition[edit]

Although ethnic Marathis have taken up military roles for many centuries,[32] 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 the country[33][34] and which reigned for almost a hundred and fifty years.[35] In due course of time, the Maratha Kingdom became the strongest power in India.[36] The Maratha Empire did not adhere to the caste system as such[37] and drew its military men from various non-Maratha/Kshatriya communities such as the Mahar,[38] Kayastha,[39][40] Matang, and Brahmin.[41] Furthermore, the empire’s naval power dominated the military scene in India for three centuries.[42] In deference to Chhatrapati Shivaji’s contribution to the country's naval forces, he is considered the "Father of the Indian Navy".[43][44] Of the pre-1947 Martial Races of India, listed by the British, five belonged (either partially or entirely) to the Marathi community viz. Dhangars,[45] Mahars,[46] Gurjars,[45][47] Ahirs,[48] and the Marathas.[49] Even today this ethnic race is well represented in the Indian armed forces with two regiments in the Indian Army deriving their names from Marathi communities —the Maratha Light Infantry[42] and the Mahar Regiment.[50] Marathis 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[51] and the Chief Of the Naval Staff, Admiral Jayant Nadkarni.[52]

Marathi Diaspora[edit]

Main article: Maharashtra Mandal

Marathi people in other Indian states[edit]

As the Maratha Empire expanded across India, the Marathi population started migrating out of Maharashtra alongside their rulers. Peshwa, Holkars, Scindia and Gaekwad dynastic leaders took with them a considerable population of priests, clerks, clergymen, army men, businessmen and workers when they emigrated. These people have settled in various parts of India along with their rulers since the 1700s. Many families belonging to these groups still follow typical Marathi traditions even though they have lived more than 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from Maharashtra for more than 100 years.[20] The families are mostly centered around Allahabad, Kanpur, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Vadodra in Gujarat and Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Jabalpur, and Sagar in Madhya Pradesh. Many Marathi socio-cultural organizations have been set up in these cities owing to their large Marathi speaking populations.

Other people have migrated in modern times in search of jobs outside Maharashtra. These people have also settled in almost all parts of the country. They have set up Maharashtra Mandals in many cities across the country. A national level central organization, the Brihan Maharashtra Mandal was formed in 1958[53] to promote Marathi culture outside Maharasthtra. Several sister organizations of the Brihan Maharashtra Mandal have also been formed outside India.[54]

Marathi populations abroad[edit]

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

In the 1830s, a large number of Indian people were taken to Mauritius to work on Sugarcane plantations. The majority of these migrants were Hindi speaking or from Southern India but also included a significant number of Marathis.[55][56]

After the state of Israel was established in 1948, the majority of Marathi Jewish or Bene Israel population emigrated to that country.[57]

Indians including Marathi People have migrated to Europe and particularly Great Britain for more than a century. The Maharashtra Mandal of London was founded in 1932[58] Marathi people are also found in other metropolitan areas of Great Britain such as Manchester or Birmingham. However, the number of Marathi people in the United Kingdom is much smaller compared to that of the Gujarati and the Punjabi communities. Traditionally, Marathi people residing outside London have been professionals such as doctors or 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 Tanganyka gained independence from Britain, most of the South Asian population residing there, including Marathi people, migrated to the United Kingdom,[59][60][61] or India.

Large-scale immigration of Indians into the United States started when the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 came into effect. Most of the Marathi immigrants who came after 1965 were professionals such as doctors, engineers or scientists. A second wave of immigration took place during the I.T. boom of the 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,[62] Canada,[63] Gulf countries,[64] European countries,[65] Japan and China.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ethnologue report for language code:mar". Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  2. ^ India Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Republic: p.440
  3. ^ History of Humanity: From the seventh century B.C. to the seventh century A.D. by Sigfried J. de Laet,Joachim Herrmann p.392
  4. ^ Indian History - page B-57
  5. ^ A Comprehensive History Of Ancient India (3 Vol. Set): p.203
  6. ^ The Penguin History of Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300 by Romila Thapar: p.365-366
  7. ^ People of India: Maharashtra, Part 1 by B. V. Bhanu p.6
  8. ^ Sambhaji – Patil, Vishwas, Mehta Publishing House, Pune, 2006
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  12. ^ "Religion based population". Director of Census Operations, Maharashtra. PCA Maharashtra. 
  13. ^ Changing India: bourgeois revolution on the subcontinent By Robert W. Stern, Pg 20
  14. ^ People of India: Maharashtra, Volume 1 By Kumar Suresh Singh, B. V. Bhanu, Anthropological Survey of India, p 463
  15. ^ a b c "Costumes of Maharashtra". Maharashtra Tourism. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  16. ^ Kher 2003.
  17. ^ Kher, Swati (2003). "Bid farewell to her". Indian Express, Mumbai Newsline. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  18. ^ Bhanu, B.V (2004). People of India: Maharashtra, Part 2. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan. pp. 1033, 1037, 1039. ISBN 81-7991-101-2. 
  19. ^ a b "Traditional costumes of Maharashtra". Marathi Heritage Organization. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
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