Marma in India


Population
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge

Subgroups: 12 (10 largest shown)  Show all

Subgroup Name Population
Rakhocha 800
Baida 700
Chakpregia 700
Cheringsa 700
Jamia 700
Khampsa 700
Khangin 700
Kokpyala 700
Marusa 700
Palangsa 700


Rakhine State

Source:  Asia Harvest      Download

Introduction / History

Centuries ago, the most feared pirates and sailors in the Bay of Bengal terrorized communities along the seacoast and far up the river channels of what is now Bangladesh. They were called maghs, or pirates. This continues to be the popular name of this tribe, originally from the Arakan region of Burma. Today, they are settled in the Chittagong Hills area of southeastern Bangladesh.

The people themselves dislike the term "Magh" and prefer to be called Marmas, which means "Burmese." They are of Thai origin and are believed to have come to the hills of Bangladesh by way of Arakan after their ancestors were driven out of China. They speak Arakanese, a Tibeto-Burman language, and regard Burma as the center of their cultural life.

Bangladesh is a new nation, having begun its course when the Muslim population broke away from Hindu India in 1947, forming East and West Pakistan. In 1971, internal strife precipitated a civil war, and East Pakistan became independent Bangladesh.


What Are Their Lives Like?

Having left the seas long ago, the Marma are now valley farmers. Forced out of the plains and into the hills by more powerful groups, they have adopted the "slash and burn" method of agriculture. In Maghi society, farm land is community property. After one year's use, the field must be left fallow for a sufficient time to let the earth recover. After the fallow period, anyone and everyone can work this field. No individual, family, or kinship group has prerogative rights to the land. Farming and other activities tie families to the community and the community to families.

The Marma continue to write and dress in ways similar to Burmese culture, although many in the northern Chittagong Hills have come under significant Bengali influence. According to their custom, marriages are restricted to within the clan. Marma villages consist of 10 to 50 houses built on the banks of streams. The houses are generally flimsy structures constructed on bamboo piles. Often, a roofed platform at the end of the village street serves as a community house where men socialize, share stories, and discuss village business.

The Marma are one of the few tribes in the Chittagong Hills who have clan chiefs and display formal tribal and clan organization. Following traditional tribal culture, villages are headed by representatives chosen by the villagers. They are often assisted by an informal council of elders. In order to connect with the Bengali government, the tribal areas are divided and subdivided into geographical regions, with the tribal head of each small area responsible to the leader of the larger region.


What Are Their Beliefs?

Although several religions are represented among the Marma, the most common religion is a blend of Buddhism and animism (belief that non-human objects have spirits). The theology of Buddhism alleges that man undergoes a cycle of separate existences and that all living things are endowed with individual souls. A devout Buddhist is able to progress toward his goal of nirvana-a state of eternal bliss-through the accumulation of merit-earning acts.

The animistic ingredient includes the worship and appeasement of local spirits, such as house spirits, village spirits, and territorial spirits, which rule over rice fields, forests, lakes, rivers, and other places. In order to avoid accidents, misfortune, and illnesses, one must try to manipulate and placate the spirits through rituals and offerings of food and flowers. Male and female mediums enter trances to attempt to communicate with the spirits so that they might discover future events.


What Are Their Needs?

The Marma, along with other tribal groups of the Chittagong Hills, have experienced oppression from the Bengali government and from settlers moving into their tribal territories. As a result of the economic poverty and land hunger in Bangladesh, many Marma have experienced large scale evictions, torture, and massacres. Also, the devout, animistic Buddhist traditions have made the tribe members unreceptive to the Gospel in the past.


Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Marma in India.

* Pray for justice in the Bengali government's treatment of the Marma and the other tribal peoples.
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to work among the Marma.
* Pray that God will give the Marma believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Marma.
* Ask God to speed evangelistic materials into the Marma language.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Marma towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Marma.


Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  
Expanded PDF Profile

People Name General Marma
People Name in Country Marma
World Population 241,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Mogh; Morma; Rakhine; मर्मा
People ID 17671
ROP3 Code 113113
Affinity Bloc South Asian Peoples
People Cluster South Asia Tribal - Other
People Group Marma
Ethnic Code CNN25b
Total Subgroups 12
  Rakhocha 800
  Baida 700
  Chakpregia 700
  Cheringsa 700
  Jamia 700
  Khampsa 700
  Khangin 700
  Kokpyala 700
  Marusa 700
  Palangsa 700
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 10  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file 5
Largest States
Tripura
38,000
West Bengal
8,100
Mizoram
400
Assam
20
Meghalaya
10
Specialized Website South Asia Peoples
Country India
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 10  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States 5
  Tripura 38,000
  West Bengal 8,100
  Mizoram 400
  Assam 20
  Meghalaya 10
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Rakhine (32,000 speakers)
Language Code rki   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 22
Secondary Languages
(only 15 largest shown)
Bengali
11,000
Hindi
1,400
Kok Borok
1,300
Kurux
700
Nepali
200
Santhali
100
Telugu
50
Garo
30
Assamese
20
Boro
10
English Dimasa
Ho Munda Limbu
Primary Language Rakhine (32,000 speakers)
Language Code rki   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 22
Secondary Languages (only 15 largest shown)
  Bengali 11,000
  Hindi 1,400
  Kok Borok 1,300
  Kurux 700
  Nepali 200
  Santhali 100
  Telugu 50
  Garo 30
  Assamese 20
  Boro 10
  English 10
  Dimasa 10
  Ho 10
  Munda 10
  Limbu 10
People Groups Speaking Rakhine

Primary Language:  Rakhine

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
Amazon
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
World Bibles
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Freedom from Suffering
Film / Video Freedom from Suffering (EngSub)
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Rakhine
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent *
Buddhism
87.28 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
0.39 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
11.83 %
Islam
0.14 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.29 %
Unknown
0.06 %
Photo Source Gerald Roberts 
Map Source Anonymous  
Video Source Asia Harvest
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
* Religion Values From latest India census data.  Current values may differ.