Introduction / History
The Maheshwari are one of the Bania trading and business communities. They have high status in India, especially since most earn at least a middle-class wage. However, many people in India feel threatened by any community involved with commerce or money lending, and that includes all Bania groups like the Maheshwari. Some consider them to be one of the Rajput peoples, another community with high caste status. The Maheshwari Banias live in Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and many other states in northern India. Smaller groups live in Nepal and Sri Lanka. The Maheshwari speak Hindi, English and other local Indian languages. Many resources are available in Hindi including a complete Bible, the JESUS Film and radio programs.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Trade and commerce are their main professions of the Bania. Some of them work for the government and some work in private business. The Maheshwari are one of the better educated peoples of India and most speak English as well as Hindi. Families arrange marriages with the consent of the young people. Weddings take place at the home of the bride with a Brahman priest performing the ceremony. Sons inherit the property upon the death of the father with the oldest son becoming the new family head. They have caste councils to look after their needs, promote their interests and to settle legal disputes. Maheshwari parents encourage both their sons and daughters to receive a college education.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Maheshwari practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. They pay special devotion to Shiva, the destroyer god. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Maheshwari visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods as Christians do. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. The main yearly holidays of the Maheshwar people are Holi, the festival of colors and the start of spring, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn and Rama Navami, Rama's birthday. The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories. Dalits and tribal peoples are outside of the caste system. The Maheshwari fit into the Kshatriya or Vaishya castes.
What Are Their Needs?
The Maheshwari people need to experience the abundant life that only Jesus Christ can offer. As educated and relatively wealthy Indians, the Maheshwari take pride in their Hindu tradition and high status in society. Pride can often prevent a group from seeking the Lord and His grace.
* Scripture Prayers for the Bania Mahesri in India.
Pray that the Maheshwari caste council leaders will come to Jesus Christ and lead others among them to Him. Pray that written and online gospel materials will lead them to begin their own disciple making movement in this decade. Pray for higher caste Indian believers to befriend them and tell them about Jesus Christ.