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Mari
Nation of Russian Federation

The Mari (Mari: мари, Russian: марийцы), are a Finno-Ugric ethnic group, who have traditionally lived along the Volga and Kama rivers in Russia. Almost half of Maris today live in the Mari El republic, with significant populations in the Bashkortostan and Tatarstan republics. In the past, the Mari have also been known as the Cheremis in Russian and the Çirmeş in Tatar.

The Mari people consists of three different groups: the Meadow Mari, who live along the left bank of the Volga, the Mountain Mari, who live along the right bank of the Volga, and Eastern Mari, who live in the Bashkortostan republic. In the 2002 Russian census, 604,298 people identified themselves as "Mari," with 18,515 of those specifying that they were Mountain Mari and 56,119 as Eastern Mari. Almost 60% of Mari lived in Ural areas.






Mari in Bashkortostan (Soutn Ural)

The Mari have their own language, also called Mari, which is a member of the Uralic language family. It is written with a modified version of the Cyrillic alphabet. Linguists today distinguish four different dialects, which are not all mutually intelligible: Hill Mari (мары йӹлмӹ), concentrated mainly along the right Volga bank; Meadow Mari (марий йылме), spoken in the lowland regions of the Kokshaga and Volga rivers, which includes the city of Yoshkar-Ola; Eastern Mari, spoken east of the Vyatka River; and North-Western Mari.
More than 1,500 words of Mari was taked from Chuvash language. And as is more from Chuvash national culture.
In the 2002 census, 451,033 people stated that they spoke the Mari language.

Religion

Maris have traditionally practiced a pagan faith that closely connected the individual with nature. According to their beliefs, nature exerts a magical influence over people. They relate to it as a sacred, powerful, and living being outside of which man can not exist. Nature serves as a source of absolute good who always helps man as long as he does not harm or oppose it.

The Mari native religion also possesses a pantheon of gods who reside in the heavens, the most important of whom is known as the Great White God (Ош Кугу Юмо, Osh Kugu Yumo). Other lesser gods include the god of fire (Тул Юмо, Tul Yumo) and the god of wind (Мардеж Юмо, Mardezh Yumo).

The Mari also believe in a number of half-men, half-gods (керемет, keremet (from chuvashian - keremet)) who live on earth. The most revered of these is Chumbulat (Чумбулат), or Chumbylat (Чумбылат), a renowned leader and warrior.

Christianity was adopted by the Mari in the 16th century after their territory was incorporated into the Russian Empire during the reign of Ivan IV "the Terrible". Adoption of Christianity was not universal, however, and many Mari today still practice Paganism in syncretic forms, or purer forms adhering to organized Neopagan Mari Traditional Religion organizations. Pagans constitute a significant minority of 25 to 40% of the Mari. Most Mari are members of the Russian Orthodox Church.



from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eastern Mari dance


Mari musician - the kesle instrument
the kesle - authentic chuvashian musical instrument


Mari Traditional Wedding


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