The enchanting islands of andaman nicobar offer tourists an opportunity to witness a fascinating cultural tapestry. The costumes here represent a harmonious blend of indigenous tribal traditions and influences brought down by early settlers and migrants from the mainland.
The indigenous tribes use natural materials to adorn themselves, reflecting their close connection with nature. For instance, the Jarawas wear adornments made of shells and tree barks, including necklaces, waist bands and armbands.
The expansive beaches of Andaman & Nicobar are brimming with a variety of shells that make beautiful ornaments. Decorative items like table lamps, showpieces and boxes, along with jewellery, bangles and neckpieces, are made from the shells. Of the many varieties, tusk shells and conch shells are particularly popular. The islands also specialise in woodwork. Several pieces of wooden furniture, ornamental articles and utensils are handmade by the skilled artisans.
The indigenous people of Andaman & Nicobar Island maintain a strong connection with nature. Despite the influence of modern influences, some tribal traditions have remained intact and detached from mainstream culture. The Sentinelese tribe, for instance, do not wear any clothes at all and have stayed completely free from civilisation. Similarly, the Jarawas adorn themselves with necklaces made of shell and bark fiber. The semi-civilized Shompens, on the other hand, only cover their bodies below the waist.
The inhabitants of Andaman & Nicobar are predominantly Hindus, with more than two-thirds being Hindus and about one-fifth being Christians. There is a small Muslim minority in Andaman. The majority of the population is literate, with more than eight-fifths being able to read and write.
Besides the sea, Andaman and Nicobar Islands are blessed with a rich variety of plant life. The inhabitants of the archipelago have made full use of this wealth in crafting various kinds of wood crafts like table-tops, furniture and other ornamental pieces. Paduak tress, Chui and marble woods are among the most commonly used materials for making these items.
The residents of Andaman and Nicobar exhibit a fusion of traditional and contemporary styles in their attire. Hindus, Sikhs and Christians dress in conventional sarees and skirt-blouse combinations, kurtas, pajamas, shirts and trousers.
However, the indigenous tribal communities of Andaman and Nicobar still continue to wear aprons or bark clothing. Men also enter completely naked or clad in a loincloth that extends from the top of their heads down between their thighs. The solitary lifestyle of these tribes has helped to preserve their traditions untouched by the sweeping changes of modernity.
The Laccadivian women, meanwhile, are known for their distinct style of dress, which is similar to a lungi. They adorn themselves with necklaces crafted from shells and tree barks, as well as long headdresses called Thattam. The Sentinelese people are another example of the pristine culture of Andaman and Nicobar, who go about their lives totally naked, despite living close to civilisation. The Jarwas and Shompen tribes of Great Nicobar, on the other hand, are hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists.
Embraced by nature
The secluded beaches, coral reefs, and dense jungles of the Andaman Islands are a pristine natural paradise. Whether you want to explore the historic Ross Island or watch the sunset over the Mahatma Gandhi National Memorial, you can find plenty of things to do and see here. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a relatively conservative area, so you should dress accordingly when visiting.
The indigenous tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are highly sensitive about their environment. Hence, they have a strong sense of community and follow social customs that honor their ancestors. This is evident in their sartorial style, as well. The Jarawa Onge and Sentinelese people, for example, continue to wear traditional coconut-leaf petticoats. The Shompen people, on the other hand, have gradually started to use clothing that covers more of their body.
The Laccadivian women are also known for their unique style of dressing, with ornaments made from seashells adorning their clothing. Their traditional dress is a Kachi, which resembles a lungi, and they also adorn themselves with long headdresses. As the world around them continues to evolve, it is important that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands balance new trends with their rich cultural heritage. This is the only way to ensure that their traditions remain intact.
A fascinating contrast
The enchanting Andaman and Nicobar Islands are home to a rich tapestry of Indian cultures. The islands are characterized by a harmonious blend of indigenous tribal traditions, influences from early settlers, and vibrant mainstream culture. This unique cultural fabric is reflected in the clothing of the people living there.
The traditional andaman nicobar dressing style of the islanders is strikingly different from what one would expect from the rest of India. The people of the Great Andamanese tribe, for example, wear a loincloth for men and skirts made of bark or leaves for women. This clothing reflects the close relationship of these tribes with nature.
Besides the Great Andamanese, there are several other tribal groups that preserve their distinct identity in Andaman and Nicobar. The Sentinelese, for instance, have a complete detachment from the civilized world and are known to roam around naked. The Jarawas, on the other hand, are a semi-civilized community that wears clothes only below their waist line.
The indigenous people of Andaman and Nicobar also celebrate various festivals. These include the Ossuary feast, in which family members pay homage to their departed relatives. The islanders also enjoy a variety of folk dances, including the Nicobarese dance. These dances are usually performed during full moon days and have a spiritual meaning. As the world continues to evolve, it is important to strike a balance between embracing modern styles and preserving the rich culture of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.