|Regions with significant populations|
|Mizoram, India||70,000 (Approximately)|
|Chin State, Burma||33,000|
|Mara Reih, Mizo, English, others|
|Christian (predominantly Evangelical)|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Mara people are the native inhabitants of Mizoram in India, native to northeastern India, primarily in the Mara Autonomous District Council of the state of Mizoram, where they form the majority of the population. Significant numbers of Maras are also found living south-eastern part of Burma, in Chin State and Rakhine State which border the district. They were earlier known as the Lakher by outsiders as Lusei called them by that name, and the new name Mara was inserted in List of Scheduled Tribes in Mizoram state in 1978 replacing the old name. The Maras were in early period known to the outside world under different tribal names such as Mara, Lakher, Shendu, Baungshelor Shendoo, Maring, Zyu or Zao/Zho, Tlosai, Khongzai, etc. They constitute a distinct tribal group lying in Saiha district of Mizoram. Some writers and historians included them as one of the Mizo tribes/clans. They called themselves "Maras"
Mara has at least 5 dialects, they are:
- Tlosaih Tlosaih is the Official Language of Mara. And it is Widely use in Maraland
- Chapi (in Burma people who speaks chapi call themselves ngiaphia)
These are all the Mara dialects and sub-clans, not only India's Mara.
The Mara language is a language related to Tibeto-Burman family. It is spoken by Mara people who live in a contiguous area in Mizoram state, India and Chin state, Myanmar. Mara is also closely related to other Mizo and Chin languages widely spoken in the area.
Mara people in India have an autonomous body i.e. Mara Autonomous District Council, the local governing body for the region, it is centred at Saiha, main town of the Siaha District of Mizoram. The Maraland Democratic Front, the Mizo National Front and the Indian National Congress are the most active political parties on the council.
In Burma, Mara people do not have any self-government body. Though their land is purely inhabited by them, they are governed by three townships – Thlantlang township for people in the North, Matupi township for people in central part and Rakhine township for people in the southern part. Mara people are called Chin in Burma and Mizo in India as Mizo and Chin are of the same people.
All ethnic Mara people claim to be 100% Christian, mostly Evangelical. With the arrival of Rev. & Mrs. Reginald Arthur Lorrain in 1907 who had had earlier founded Lakher Pioneer Mission in London in the year 1905, within a decade Mara people have all accepted Christianity. Although the missionaries were of baptist origins, the newly found Church in Maraland was not affiliated with any outside Church or denominations, and was called Independent Church of Maraland. The current Evangelical Church has two branches, one in Maraland, India and the other in Burma; these branches were separated after the Partition of India.
Evangelical Church of Maraland (India), Congregational Church of India (Maraland)), and Mara Evangelical Church (Burma)) are the three dominant Churches, a direct fruit of the pioneer missionaries who are buried at Saikao town in Saiha district of Mizoram. Presbyterian, Baptist and Pentecostal also have a significant presence among the Mara people.
- Dr K. Zohra, Ph.D, An introductory notes to Mara District of South Mizoram, India.
- Maraland.NET Information on Mara people
- Samaw.com : Mara English portal
- Chakhei.com : The first town portal in Maraland
- maratechnology.com/marahistory.htm: Mara History
- Maraland.NET : An article about how Lakher was changed to Mara