The Marathi people or Maharashtrians are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group, that inhabit the Maharashtra region and state of western India. Their language Marathi is part of the southern group of Indo-Aryan languages. Although their history goes back more than a millennium, the community came to prominence when Maratha warriors under Shivaji established the Maratha Empire in 1674. If regarded as a single ethnic group, the Marathi constitute the 17th largest ethnic group. The term 'Marathi people' is derived from the language commonly spoken by this ethnicity, i.e. Marathi. The term Maratha or its plural Marathe was used between the 17th and 19th centuries, coinciding with the existence of the Maratha Empire. However, at the beginning of 20th century, due to the efforts of Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur, the peasant Indo-Aryan Kshatriya Marathi class called Kunbi started using the word Maratha to describe themselves.
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