Marathi Christians

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Marathi Christian
Marathi Christi /[ converted Hindu ]
Regions with significant populations
India India (Maharashtra) ~1.06 million

Christianity, Predominantly Protestant (Anglican, Methodist, evangelical)

Roman Catholic a minority.
Related ethnic groups
Marathi people, Indo-Aryans

Marathi Christians or Marathi Christi 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, Palghar, Mumbai. Most Marathi Christians are Protestants with some Catholic 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.


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[citation needed]. Addressing the aggressive American Marathi Mission, Reverend 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

During a famine In 1831, Protestant Christian missionaries from the United States came to the area for famine relief and to spread the word about Jesus. 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[citation needed].

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 befriended local ladies and carried the message of Christ door to door among high and low castes. 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 caste Hindus, Acceptance of Christianity by a few upper caste 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[citation needed].

As of 2000, Christians make up 10 percent of the Ahmadnagar district population, a significant number of whom are located in the eastern part of the district like, Nevasa, Pathardi, Shevgaon, Rahuri and Ahmednagar[citation needed] .The followers of the American Marathi Mission are found throughout the Ahmadnagar district, except in the southwest.[5] A majority of them are Protestants, and the largest denomination is the Church of North India. Most villages have their own churches. Most Christians in Ahmadnagar 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 0.13 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


During British raj, European and American missionaries established missions in Palghar and Dahanu in Thane district. Most of the converted Christian community from these areas belong to the Church of North India. This Community is as highly educated and affluent as the Catholic Christian community from the neighboring Vasai.Christian from Vasai bassein are mostly koli ,Aagri and vadhval christi.


According to the 1951 census the Christian Population of the Pune district was 37,243, including Europeans, and 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 Maratha 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]




Basically foreign missionaries landed in This area and started spreading the good news to the down trodden and needy people and they accepted Christianity. Number of people are Roman Catholic's and others are of different denominatios.

Aurangabad is head city for Catholic's as it has its Cathedral and Bishop house in Cantonment area work is monitored of whole of marathwada mainly in field of Educational, health, and social work


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


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

Notable Marathi Christians[edit]

  • Chandu Borde, 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, 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, a Marathi/Hindi movie actor from Ahmednagar. He primarily acted as Lord Krishna in 29 mythological films.
  • Baba Padamji, a Brahmin and a Christian convert. An author of over 100 books, his Yamunaparyatan is considered the first novel of Marathi literature.
  • Pandita Ramabai, 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.
  • Harish Salve, renowned Jurist.
  • N. K. P. Salve, former Union Minister and Congress Leader from Vidarbha.
  • Dr. Rajanikant Arole, Magasayse award winner and Padmabhushan.
  • Vinod Kambli, a former cricket player for India and Mumbai. Many consider him one of the most talented middle-order batsman to ever play for India.

See also[edit]


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