Marathi people

Marathi people
(मराठी माणसं/महाराष्ट्रीय)
Lokmany tilak.jpgRaigadFort5.jpgPratibhaIndia.jpg
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Sachin Tendulkar.jpgMadhuriDixit.jpgMphule.jpg
Lokmanya Tilak • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj • Pratibha Patil
Dadasaheb PhalkeTukaramB. R. Ambedkar
Sachin TendulkarMadhuri Dixit • Jyotiba Phule
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




Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Sikhism, Jainism

Related ethnic groups

Indo-Aryans, Konkani people, Dhivehi people

The Marathi people or Maharashtrians (Marathi: मराठी माणसं or महाराष्ट्रीय) are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group, that inhabit 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 a millennium, the community came to prominence when Maratha warriors under His Majesty, His Highness Shivaji Maharaj established the Maratha Empire in 1674. ‘Mee Marathi’ (मी मराठी, ‘I am Marathi’) are two words that have always inculcated Marathi pride.



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Marathi people


The Marathi people are also known as "Maharashtrians". The whole community was called Maratha or Marathe (plural of Maratha) between the 17th and 19th centuries. 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. So in current usage 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. In the Indo-Aryan Marathi language, they refer to themselves as Marathi.

Maharashtra, the state in India where the majority of Marathi people live


The earliest records refer to the region today known as Maharashtra as Dandakaranyas which means "Forest of punishment". In times of Ramayana, it was 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 (nasik in Sanskrit) of Ravana's sister Shurpanakha. It is not known whether before the coming of the Aryans, this region was inhabited by other civilizations or not.

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 (proto-Marathi) 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. Till 1689, Sambhaji never lost a fort or territory to Aurangzeb. 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. The grandson of Shivaji saw the greatest expansion of Maratha power. After his death in 1749 the Peshwa became the real power behind the empire from 1750 to 1761. The empire was expanded by many Maratha sardars like Shinde, Gayakwad, Pawar, Bhonsale and Holkar, Pandit, Pantpratindhi, Govindpant Bundele, Sardar Gupte, etc., under the coordination of Bajirao and his son Balaji Bajirao 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 nominally independent Maratha states existed until 1947 when these states acceded to the Dominion of India.


Marathi was the court language during the reign of the Yadava Kings also known as Suena. The Yadava king Singhana is known for his magnanimous donations which are carved in 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.[1] There are various stone inscriptions in Marathi found at Akshi in Mumbai (former Colaba) district, Patan, Pandharpur, Dive-Aagar etc. The most famous among these is 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.[2]

The Marathi people have a long literary tradition which started in the ancient era. However, it was the 13th century saint Sant Dnyaneshwar who made literature highly popular among the masses. His Dnyaneshwari is considered a masterpiece. Along with Dnyaneshwar, Sant Namdev was also responsible for propagating Marathi literature. Namdev is also important to the Sikh tradition, since several of his compositions are enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib. Sant Eknath, Sant Tukaram[3], 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.

The first English Book was translated in Marathi in 1817. The first Marathi newspaper started in 1835. 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 of stories titled Gode Goshti (Sweet Stories). Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar (1889–1976)'s Yayati won him the Jnanpith Award for 1975. He also wrote many other novels, short stories, essays etc. The poetry of Arun Kolatkar, Dilip Chitre, Mangesh Padgaonkar, C.T. Khanolkar (Aarti Prabhu), Namdeo Dhasal, Suresh Bhat, Vasant Abaji Dahake, Manohar Oak and many other modernist poets is complex, rich and provocative. Bhau Padhye, Vilas Sarang Shyam Manohar and Vishram Bedekar 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 patronizing it. Writers like Pu La, Va Pu Kale, Ranjeet Desai, Gangadhar Gadgil Shri D M Mirasdar Vijay Tendulkar are considered modern greats.

Muslim authors too 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 also contributed to the development of Marathi literature.

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 Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar 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.


The majority of Marathi people are Hindus.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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), Tukaram (Moray Maratahi-Kunbi), Namdev (Shimpi-Artsian,Vaishya) and Chokhamela (Mahar).

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

Christians account for 2%[citation needed] 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.

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%)

Castes and Communities

Marathi people form ethno-linguistic group that is distinct from others in its language, history, cultural & religious practices, social structure, literature and art.[5] However, there are many different castes & communities, with diversified traditions of their own. All Communities respect the Warkari movement which started in around 13th century.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. n. They also dominate Police and Military jobs in Maharashtra. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Yashwantrao Chavan, Sharad Pawar, Smita Patil are a few noted members of this community.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 regio

The Marathi Brahmins, although they make up only 4%[citation needed] of the Marathi population, have made a significant contribution to the culture of Maharashtra. They are divided into six groups - Deshastha, Chitpavan, Devrukhe, Karhade, Saraswat and Daivadnya.The Marathi Brahmins have long been associated with the freedom struggle, arts, literature, sports and social reform. Sant Dnyaneshwar (Deshastha), the Peshwa family (Chitpavan), and Lokmanya Tilak (Chitpavan) and Jagannath Shankarshet (Daivadnya) are notable Brahmins from history. Sachin Tendulkar(Saraswat), Manohar Joshi ( Deshastha), Madhuri Dixit (Chitpavan), and late Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (Karhade) are Brahmins from either contemporary times or recent history.

The scheduled castes make up about 11.0% of Maharashtra population[6] and fourth of the total Marathi population. Major Marathi scheduled castes[7] groups are chambhar, Mahar and Mang. Some scheduled castes across India self-define themselves as Dalit (oppressed). Many in the Mahar community under the guidance of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar embraced Buddhism. They are concentrated in Vidarbha.

Dhangar is one of the prominent community in Maharashtra. The rulers of Indore Maratha state, Malharrao Holkar and his successors such as Ahilyabai Holkar, Yashwantrao Holkar belonged to this community. The community is divided in 23 sub categories such as Hatkar, shegar, ahir, dange, kokani etc. The commnnity is included in the Nomedic Tribe(N T)section by Government of India.

There are several other artisan communities like Shoe makers (Chambhars), Shimpi (tailor caste), Sutar (carpenter caste), Sonar, Teli (oil presser), Gurav and Nabhik (Barber). These communities fall under the OBC category. Other communities like Mali, Koshtis are more prosperous than OBCs (other backward class) from other areas of India and are also mainly concentrated in the region of Vidarbha.

Most Marathi Hindu castes have a patron saint who belonged to the same caste. All of these saints were part of the bhakti tradition. The list of the saints includes Savata ( Mali caste), Sena (barber caste), Chokha mela (mahar caste), Namdeo ( tailor), and Gora kumbhar(potter caste).

Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu(CKP for short) is a well educated Kshatriya-Kayastha community. Members of this community traditionally competed with Brahmins for clerical and administrative positions under Maratha & British rule. Baji Prabhu Deshpande, C.D. Deshmukh and the Thackeray family are the noted historic and contemporary members of this community respectively.

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

The Indian government does not collect data on the "upper castes". However, their present numbers may be calculated from the census carried out by the British Raj government a century or more ago.[8]

There are two distinct Christian Communities in Maharashtra; one is East Indians & 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 & Solapur. Protestantism was brought to these areas by American and Anglican Missionaries during 19th Century. Marathi Christian have largely retained their pre-Christian practices.

Other groups include Konkani Muslims. Marathi Muslims from the Konkan region have retained many of their preconversion practices including 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.

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.[9]

Marathi names

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.[citation needed]

Some Maharastrians address men as "Rao" or "Saheb" . (E.g. Sunil will be called Sunilrao.) Similarly, women are names may have the suffix "bai" or "tai" (older sister) This is generally an informal convention, used between friends and not on official documents.

A number of Marathi family names end in 'kar', e.g. Ambekar, Tendulkar, Anwekar, Acharekar, Divekar, Dahanukar, Pingulkar, Chiparikar, and Kurundkar are typically associated with the ancestral village of the family.

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


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. Malavali 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 is used in preparations like Spicy Savaji 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. Puran 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.


This section provides brief overview of various Hindu festivals celebrated in Maharashtra. Some of the festivals listed 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.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanti

Fourteenth Day of April is celebrated as Dr. Ambedkar jayanti.It is indeed celebrated throughout India especially by the people who have embraced Buddhism under his guidance. This date coincides with New year celebrations in Punjab(Baisakhi), Kerala [Vishu]] , Tamilnadu, Bengal and Buddhist countries of Cambodia and Thailand.The followers of BUDDHISM visit the monestries and recite the verses written by LORD BUDDHA.Sweets are made to enjoy the happiness.

Gudhi Padwa

First day of the month Chaitra as per Indo-Aryan Hindu Calendar (usually comes in the month of March) is celebrated as Marathi new year (also the Kannada new year known as Ugadi) . This is the day when Rama returned to Ayodhya after killing Ravana. At many a homes in Maharashtra, Navaratra of Lord Rama is established from Chaitra Shudha 1 to Shuddha 9. In Northern India, it is believed the Rama returned to Ayodhya on Diwali Padwa. The residents celebrated his homecoming by decorating their homes with Gudhi (victory pole). 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. This marks the beginning of new season, spring.

Akshaya Tritiya

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.

Wat Purnima

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

Ashadhi Ekadashi (11th day of the month Ashadha, somewhere around July–August) is closely associated with great Marathi saint Dnyaneshwar. Twenty days before this day, thousands of Varkaris start their pilgrimage to Pandharpur 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 Paurnima

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.

Nag Panchami

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. Women put temporary henna tattoos(mehndi) on their hand on the previous day and buy new bangles on Nag Panchami day.

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. IT is festiv day for the town.

Narali Paurnima

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 get/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. Deshastha Brahmin men change their sacred thread (janve in Marathi) on this day.

Gukulashtami dahi-hundi celebration

Gokul Ashtami

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'.

Mangala Gaur

Pahili Mangala Gaur (first Mangala Gaur) celebration is one of the most important celebration for the new brides in Maharashtra. 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

In Somvavshi Kshatriya Samaj pithori amavashya is celebrated, to bless a mother's sons or daughter a long life. The elder daughter in law asks the children "Kholapur chi vaat kuthali??" - three times . They answer "Hich hich ". Then she asks "mazya otit kon?? " to which the children reply "Mich mich". After this she gives a prasad of Pithori aai.

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.


Third day of the month of Bhadrapada (usually comes around August/September) is celebrated as Hartalika in honor 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.


Ganesh Chaturthi

Fourth day of Bhadrapada is celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm as Ganesh Chaturthi on the in honor 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 the people suffering from any kind of natural calamity.

Gauri / Mahalakshmi

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

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.


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 honored on this day.


Diwali 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'.
  • Fifth Day: Last day of Diwali festival is called Bhau Bij. On this day, sisters pray for long life of their brothers. Brothers, in turn bless their sister and pamper them with gifts.

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 organize marriage of sacred Tulsi plant in their house with Lord Krishna. On this day the Tulsi vrindavan is colored 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.

Kartiki Ekadashi

  • 11th day of the month Kartik marks the end of Chaturmas.

Khandoba Festival/Champa Shashthi

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. The sixth day is called Champa Shashthi


Eve of Hindu festival 'Makar Sankranti'.In this festival people take bath with sesame seeds.

Makar Sankranti

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 January 14 in non-leap years and on January 15 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 Jan. 14 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

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 colors. In Maharashtra it is known as Dhuli Vandan. However, Maharashtrians celebrate color throwing five days after Holi on Rangpanchami.

Jatra[disambiguation needed ]

A large number of villages in Maharashtra hold their annual festivals (Village carnival) in the months of January–March. These may be in the honor of the village deity or the tomb (dargah) of a local sufi saint. Celebrations may include cart racing, kabbadi and wrestling tournaments, a fair and lavani/tamasha. A number of families eat meat only during this period.

Marathi people outside India

A large number of Indian people were taken in the 1830s to Mauritius to work on sugar-cane plantations. Majority of these migrants were Hindi speaking or from Southern India but also included a significant number of Marathi People.[4] [5]

After the state of Israel was established in 1948, the majority of Marathi Jews or Bene Israel moved there.[6]

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.[7]. Marathi people are also found in other metropolitan areas of Great Britain such as Manchester or Birmingham. However, the numbers are tiny compared to the Pakistani, Punjabi or Marwari populations. Traditionally, Marathi people residing outside London have been professional such as Doctors and engineers.

A small number of Marathi people also went to East Africa during the British colonial era. Most of these original immigrants have moved to other countries.

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. The Marathi community in USA is currently about 35,000 people. [8]

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 [9], Canada [10], Gulf countries [11], European countries [12], Japan and China.

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b Ethnologue report for language code:mar
  2. ^ The dynastic art of the Kushans, John Rosenfield, p 130
  3. ^
  4. ^ Sambhaji - Patil, Vishwas, Mehta Publishing House, Pune, 2006
  5. ^ Changing India: bourgeois revolution on the subcontinent By Robert W. Stern, Pg 20
  6. ^ http://www.
  8. ^
  9. ^ People of India: Maharashtra, Volume 1 By Kumar Suresh Singh, B. V. Bhanu, Anthropological Survey of India, p 463

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