Koli Malhar in India

Koli Malhar
Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Koli Malhar
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 369,000
World Population: 369,000
Primary Language: Marathi
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.04 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Tribal - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Malhar Koli are an indigenous Hindu people group who live in western state of Maharashtra in India. The word Koli means "fisherman." Some sources consider the Malhar to be a Koli subgroups while others consider them to be separate. The Malhar are a Scheduled Tribe meaning that they are entitled to public jobs and special consideration for university admissions. The primary language of the Malhar is Marathi. Many resources are available in Marathi including a complete Bible and the JESUS Film. A tiny group among the Malhar call themselves followers of Jesus. Many Malhar are unable to read and write so the gospel will have to be presented to them in oral and visual forms.

What Are Their Lives Like?

In addition to being in the fishing business, some Malhar work as water carriers especially in the places where there is not much rain. The Mahlar often use government benefits that are available to them. They have a traditional caste council to look after their interests and settle legal disputes. The Malhar Koli are endogamous, meaning they prefer to marry within their group. They have monogamous marriages, meaning one man and one wife. Marriages are arranged by families. They allow for divorce and remarriage. On the death of the father, property goes to the sons with the oldest son taking charge as the new head of the household. As in most tribal peoples of India, illiteracy is a major issue for the Malhar especially for the women and girls. Malhar children frequently quit school after a few years to help their parents earn a living.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Almost all of Koli are Hindus. Hindus usually have a pragmatic approach to religion; they worship the gods they believe will protect them and provide for their needs. The Hinduism of the Malhar is heavily mixed with folk religion and ancestor worship. The Malhar believe that spirits inhabit the objects of nature. The spirits must be appeased, or the evil spirits can bring disaster upon the people.

What Are Their Needs?

The Malhar Koli people need the opportunity to allow Jesus Christ to enrich their lives physically, economically and spiritually. Some Malhar villages are without electricity. Solar panels would greatly improve their lives. They often lack access to clean water and modern medicine. The Malhar must hear and understand the message about Jesus Christ to have their sins forgiven and to obtain eternal life.

Prayer Points

Pray that the Koli traditional council leaders will come to Jesus Christ and lead others to Him. Pray that Indian followers of Christ will lead them into an unstoppable disciple making movement to Christ. Pray that good schools and modern medicine becomes available to the Malhar. Pray that the small Malhar church would grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

Text Source:   Keith Carey