Andaman and Nicobar culture possesses a unique blend of ethnic cultures of the Negroid and the Mongoloid settlers of the island. The island also holds mainstream culture brought down by the descendants of the early immigrants in the island from the Indian mainland who contributed to the culture of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The greatest asset of Andaman and Nicobar culture is the peaceful coexistence of these strains of culture lives. However, the recent culture of these islands is a fusion of varied religions, ethnic groups and languages. Every person lives here with peace and harmony and maintains a unique and special culture of the territory. Port Blair, the capital of these islands features cosmopolitan culture with individuals settling from different parts of the globe. Religious culture and modern fairs and festivals are celebrated with great enthusiasm by all groups of the people irrespective of their religions and faith. The culture of Andaman and Nicobar islands could greatly be understood with the cultures of two distinct native populations of these islands–The Negrito population in the Andaman and The Autochthones i.e.; the Mongoloid Nicobarese and Shompen. Further reading will help you to know every detail about the culture of this Indian union territory.
Arts and Crafts
Island is known for making furniture and other articles out of ornamental woods such as Paduak, marble wood, Chui, simple chairs, hole cane baskets tables, cupboards, wood sculpting, male and female pair, figures of birds and animals, etc. Tabletops made out of Paduak burr are a novel item produced. These wooden figures are well crafted and painted with bright colors.
The products extend from cleaned and polished decorative shells to table lamps, ash-trays, jewelry, buttons, small round/square-boxes and bangles made of tortoise shell.
The island in recent years has shown interest in producing articles made out of coconut shells. The items include table lamps, finger bowls, jewelry made out of coconut shell and other objects, have become quite popular.
Apart from the regular wood craft, the island has also improvised in other varieties of crafts. Items like hats of palm leaves and bamboo strips, walking sticks, billiard sticks out of marblewood, small canoe models made shaping woods with a knife and inserting miniatures sails of cloth, have seen a greater demand by visitors.
CRAFTS OF NICOBAR
Basketry and Mat Making: Mats made from coconut stems and Pandanus leaves are the one of the important traditional crafts, usually carried by women in their leisure time.
Cross Bows: Another functional craft is the making of crossbows, its novel design and trigger system make it a esteemed handicraft article for tourists.
Nicobari dance is one among the important and oldest traditional dances of Andaman & Nicobar. It is performed during the Ossuary Feast, which is normally known as the Pig Festival. Some other folk dances can also be seen during the Island Tourism festival that puts on parade, the full range of cultural activities.
It is in Andaman group of islands that music is prominent and important. As for musical capabilities, Onge tribe is the most complex and developed of all. They sing normally to go along with a dance. Both male and female participate in singing.
On the basis of the level of technological developments, the tribes can be classified as Hunters and Gatherers or Primitive and Horticulturists or advanced. Great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas, Sentinelese are four different groups found in Andaman and Nicobar Island. More than 50% of the people living in Andaman and Nicobar are settlers from all over the world mainly from the mainland India. And that is why many describe Andaman’s as a little India or a mini-India. In the early twenties, several moplas or Mappillas deported following the Malabar revolt migrated in 1925 to work as forest Laborers, even many Burmans in Maimyo and Burma after 1966. They also had come as convicts. Bhantus are a tribe, who were brought to these Islands accused for robbery in North and Central India.post independence, the influx has been mainly of Nengalese-refuge from the Bangladesh. Chota Nagpur Region migrated in search of jobs. People living in these islands now had belonged to various places and groups like Oraon, Kharia, Munda, Mahli Turi Ghasi, Cheek and Dom etc. The second largest linguistic groups are the people settled from Tamil Nadu.
The religious personality of Andaman and Nicobar islands is too complex subsequently it is a mini India. People from different states have been living in this territory besides the aborigines’ of this place. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains Muslims, Christians, Bhahais etc., are the major religions of these Islands.
Fairs & Festivals
Island Tourism Festival
It is a fifteen-day long festival organized by the Andaman and Nicobar Administration every year giving a festive look to the islands. The festival highlights the development and the other aspects of these islands. The fest is brought alive by inviting culture troupes and the artistes of the National and International fame from the mainland. The festival also includes water sports competitions and Nicobari “HODI” Race is organized. The island tourism festival projects the image of the island as on eco-friendly tourist destination.
Local Religious Festivals
The special festive celebrations of particular groups include Durgapuja for the Bengalis, Panguni Uthiram for the Tamils, Pongal for the Telugus and Onam for the Malayalis. The localites of the Andamans, who are divided into Hindus, Muslims and Christians, celebrate the festivals of all the three religions. Some of their main festivals are Shivratri, Janmastami, Holi, Diwali, Ramanavami, Id, Christmas and Good Friday.
Fairs of Andaman & Nicobar
Island Tourism Festival is celebrated at Port Blair, held during December/January for 10-14 days; it is the important fest in Andaman & Nicobar. Other fests are Subhash Mela is a cultural fest, celebrated at Havelock Island at 23rd January which goes up to 4-7 days, Vivekananda Mela is a cultural festival celebrated at Neil Island for a day. And Block Mela is rural/culture festival celebrated at Diglipur during January/February for a day.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands has a unique culture, where all ethnic groups, religions and languages live in total peace and harmony and hence it is precisely called Mini India. With the same culture enthusiasm shown in India, Andaman and Nicobar also celebrates all their major festivals with equal zeal and fervor and it is attended by all religious groups.