Prayer Profile
The Maitili of Nepal

[IMAGE] A majority of the 30 million Maitili live in Mithila, in the north Bihar state of India. However, some 2.3 million live in the southern part of the neighboring country of Nepal.

Over thousands of years, countless groups have migrated into India and Nepal, many of which have maintained distinctive cultures. Today, more than 200 languages are spoken throughout the countries. The complex Hindu "caste" system has further divided the people into an endless number of social classes.

Most Maitili are members of the Brahman and other high castes of Hindus. (The Brahmans make up the highest category in the Hindu caste system.) Although the Maitili have a rich cultural heritage, its Brahman community is not as w

ell respected as other Brahmans are. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the Maithili carry their devotion to their religious beliefs to an extreme.

What Are Their Lives Like?
The Maitili have changed very little since ancient times. Their women still practice age-old folk art traditions. For example, even the poorest families live in homes that have been beautifully adorned with traditional designs. Most of the houses are decorated with geometrical patterns and figures of gods or people. The women use locally manufactured colors and gums for decoration. They use thread, match-sticks, or thin bamboo sticks wrapped in cotton as paint brushes.

The fact that the Maitili live in an isolated region has contributed to their cultural behavior. Their long seclusion has resulted in a distinct "backwardness" and a general lack of initiative among the people.

The Maitili Brahmans have been split into several sub-groups: the Srotiyas, the Yogyas, the Panjibahas, and the Jaibaras. These groups are organized into successive ranks with each level subordinate to the one above.

Among the Maitili, two of the most important ceremonies are marriage (jauna) and death. Girls are not allowed to remain unmarried because the Brahmans consider marriage to be a religious sacrament with its partners predestined by the gods. The question of viewing ones physical features before marriage is of no concern to them at all in settling the marriage. The date of a marriage is fixed by an astrologer. In the jauna ceremony, a boy is allowed to wear the sacred thread of a Brahman.

After a Maitili dies, his body is cremated. Before death, he performs a type of "death ritual." In this ritual, he worships a cow and gives it to one of his near relatives. The Maitili believe that a "river" lies between this world and the next. This worship ritual supposedly helps him to cross the river and reach heaven by holding onto the cow's long tail.

The Maitili are extraordinarily devoted to the laws of their faith. They are so concerned about doctrine that they would dare not tell a lie, especially when referring to their religious lives.

What Are Their Beliefs?
Although 95% of the Maitili are Hindus, they have maintained their traditional superstitions. They believe that spirits and imps (elves or small demons) exist, sometimes in bodily form. Witchcraft abounds and spells are often cast. The Maitili believe that sacrifices must constantly be made in order to keep the spirits appeased. However, one Hindu sect, the Upanisads, has introduced a new religion that opposes sacrificial ceremonies. Their primary aim is to deliver individuals from their mundane lives by being absorbed in the search for truth. In this "quest for knowledge," rituals are useless. This type of thinking is more in line with modern Hindu attitudes.

What Are Their Needs?
The Maitili are steeped in superstition and deception, yet consider themselves to be very intellectual. One missions agency is currently targeting this people group, but its progress has been slow and difficult. Much prayer is needed to break down the strongholds that are keeping the Maitili in spiritual darkness.

Prayer Points
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through intercession.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agency that is targeting the Maitili.
  • Pray that the Lord will raise up long term workers to join those who have already responded.
  • Ask God to speed the completion of the translation of the Jesus film and other evangelistic materials into the Maitili language.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Maitili through dreams and visions.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Maitili bound.
  • Pray that God will give the Maitili believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
  • Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Maitili Church for the glory of His
  • name.

See also:
The Maitili of India.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Maitili
  • Country: Nepal
  • Their language: Maitili (Bantar)
  • Population: (1990) 2,078,400
    (1995) 2,366,000
    (2000) 2,681,700
  • Largest religion: Hindu 98.8%
    Muslim (Sunni) 1%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 4,732
  • Scriptures in their own language: Portions
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 1
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 619,900 (27%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 123,000 (6%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 496,900 (21%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 1,746,100 (73%)
  • Country: Nepal
  • Population: (1990) 19,253,000
    (1995) 21,917,700
    (2000) 24,841,500
  • Major peoples in size order: Nepalese 55.1%
    Maitili 10.8%
    Bhojpuri Bihari 7.8%
    Newar 2.9%
    Saptari Tharu 2.9%
  • Major religions: Hindu 87.5%
    Buddhist 6.9%
    Muslim 3.5%
  • Number of denominations: 27

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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