Malayali in Maldives

Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Malayali
Country: Maldives
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 800
World Population: 1,587,300
Primary Language: Malayalam
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 2.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.00 %
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

You may have heard of the Maldives Islands. But do you know where this island nation is located? Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small island state in South Asia, situated in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 700 kilometers from the Asian continent's mainland. The country consists of 1192 islands. Of these 185 are inhabited. The last Buddhist king of the Maldives converted to Islam in 1153. Later the Maldives were colonies of Portugal, the Netherlands and Great Britain. The Maldives became an independent from the UK in 1953. The Maldives is the lowest nation in the world with an average height of only 2.4 meters. Rising sea levels pose a threat to the existence of the islands. It is estimated that the inhabited islands may have to be evacuated by 2100 if present trends continue. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami devasted the low lying islands drowning many and doing millions of dollars of damage. The original home of the Malayali people is southwestern India. During the era of the British Empire, thousands Malayalis left India to work as laborers in East Africa, Malaysia and the Persian Gulf. Some came to the Maldives. Malayalis speak Malayalam at home, Dhivehi with their neighbors and English in their businesses and with tourists.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Fishing is the main industry of the Maldives. Malayali people are involved in the catching, selling and exporting of fish. Unfortunately, the number of fish in Maldivian waters is declining due to the industrial fishing methods of European, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean fishermen. Tourism is the second leading industry in the Maldives. The islands boast of 134 resorts and hotels. Swimming, scuba diving, sports fishing and bar hopping are popular among the tourists who visit the Maldives. Wealthy, educated Malayalis often own and operate the resorts and restaurants. Middle and lower class often Malayalis often work in the tourist industry. Traditional ways of doing things are very important to the Malayalis. For the process of engagement and marriage, for example, they have elaborate rituals involving almost all of the family, multiple ceremonial visitations, traditional scripts to be recited, and a bridal price to be paid. Family is very important to the Malayalis, and they are not afraid of going out of their ways or being inconvenienced for the sake of family. Malayali parents strongly encourage their children to obtain college degrees and to marry within their people, culture and religion.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Malayali form of Hinduism is influenced by animism. The Malayali worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. 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 Malayali visit Hindu shrines 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 Malayali 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. A tiny fraction of the Malayalis in the Maldives claims to be followers of Jesus Christ.

What Are Their Needs?

Malayalis of the Maldives need to understand the gaining material wealth will not grant them the happiness they are seeking. Jesus Christ is not just another Hindu god or guru. He is the Lord and Savior of the world. Lower caste Malayalis need help in gaining access to modern medical care and getting their children into schools.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send workers to share the good news with the Malayalis. Pray that the believers would reach out and establish redemptive relationships with the Malayalis. Pray for a Disciple Making Movement among the Malayalis in the Maldives in this decade.

Text Source:   Joshua Project