Prayer Profile
The Manipuri of India

[IMAGE] The Manipuri are also known as the Meithei, or "different people." Most of them live in the Manipur Valley, which is located in the state of Manipur, northeastern India. Many also live in the surrounding states, as well in the states of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. The Manipuri are of Mongol origin and speak a Tibeto-Burman language called Meithei.

The Manipuri follow Hindu customs, which distinguishes them from the surrounding hill tribes. Their community developed as a result of the merging of at least seven communities through intermarriage and political dominance. This league of seven tribes consolidated a kingdom that withstood invaders for almost 2,000 years.

In 1824, the Manipur community requested aid from the British to help repel Burmese invaders. The British abolished slavery and built roads in the region before the administration was taken over by the Indian government. Manipuri became a state in 1972.

What Are Their Lives Like?
Before their conversion to Hinduism, the Manipuri ate meat, sacrificed cattle, and practiced headhunting. Today, they abstain from eating meat (except fish), do not drink alcohol, observe strict rules against pollution, and revere the cow. They also belong to the rigid Hindu "caste" (social class) system.

Brahman immigrants first introduced the Manipuri to Hinduism. (Brahmans make up the highest class of Hindu priests and scholars.) The immigrants adopted the Manipuri way of life and married local women. Today, the Manipuri consider themselves part of the upper caste, and are therefore severely prejudice against the surrounding lower caste tribes.

Ninety percent of the Manipuri live in rural areas. They are divided into seven clans, the members of which do not usually intermarry. Their houses are made of reed walls plastered with mud. They are built on wooden or bamboo poles and have thatch or tin roofs.

Most of the Manipuri are rice farmers. They also raise sugarcane, tobacco, mustard, fruits, and vegetables. Terracing is common in the hills, where farmers hoe the ground by hand. Teak and bamboo are the major forest products they harvest.

During World War II, the Manipuri were exposed to the world of competition and modern technology. Western education has also helped them break free of ignorance and superstitious beliefs.

Meithei, the Manipuri language, is the language of business and trade in this region. The Manipuri are known for their specially designed cloth that is produced on hand-looms. The cloth is now in demand throughout India. The women are also well known for their hand-loom weaving.

Many of the Manipuri have become horse breeders, supplying horses for polo, a national game in India. Hockey, boat races, theatrical performances, and dancing are other favorite pastimes. The Manipuri folk dance is a classical dance unlike any other Indian dance; hand movements are used decoratively with liquid-swaying movements. Both men and women perform together. The dances are dramas interpreted by a narrator and interspersed with choral singing. Themes are generally taken from episodes in the life of Krishna, the main Hindu god.

What Are Their Beliefs?
The Manipuri had their own traditional religion until they converted to Hinduism 400 years ago. Hinduism teaches that when the body dies the soul is reborn, or "reincarnated," as an animal or as a human. They believe that every action influences how the soul will be born in the next reincarnation. The goal of Hinduism is to be set free from this cycle of rebirth and suffering.

Along with the worship of Hindu gods, particularly Krishna, the Manipuri continue to worship their traditional deities and spirits. Legend says that the god of their sani-mahi religion came to earth in the form of a snake.

What Are Their Needs?
Although fifteen missions agencies are currently targeting this people group, only 1% of the Manipuri have accepted Christ. Prayer is the first step toward breaking down the strongholds that are keeping them bound.

Prayer Points
  • Pray that God will grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Manipuri.
  • Pray that the Manipuri believers will have opportunities to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Manipuri toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will open the hearts of India's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Manipuri bound.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will faithfully intercede for the Manipuri.
  • Pray that the Lord will begin to reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Manipuri by the year 2000.

See also:
The Manipuri of Bangladesh

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Manipuri
  • Country: India
  • Their language: Meithei
  • Population: (1990) 1,139,100
    (1995) 1,253,100
    (2000) 1,368,600
  • Largest religion: Hindu 85%
    Ethnic religionist 7%
    Muslim 6.5%
  • Christians: 1%
  • Church members: 13,533
  • Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 15
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 627,500 (51%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 88,700 (8%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 538,800 (43%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 625,600 (49%)
  • Country: India
  • Population: (1990) 850,638,100
    (1995) 935,744,300
    (2000) 1,022,021,300
  • Major peoples in size order: Hindi (High Hindi) 9.5%
    Telugu 7.8%
    Maratha 7.4%
    Bengali 6.4%
    Hindi (Bazaar, Popular) 5.5%
  • Major religions: Hindu 78.2%
    Muslim 12%
    Christian 4.3%
  • Number of denominations: 8

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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