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South Andaman, Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India - 744103

Tribals

Tribals

There are 6 aboriginal tribes in Andaman & Nicobar islands.
1.Great Andamanese, 2. Onge, 3. Jarawa, 4. Sentinelese, 5. Shompen, 6. Nicobarese

Andaman & Nicobar Islands are the abode of probably the most primitive tribes of the world. Out of the 6 aboriginal tribes inhabiting these Islands five, namely, the Shompens, the Onges, the Great Andamanese, the Sentinelese and the Jarawas are primitive tribes. These primitive tribes especially the Sentinelese, the Jarawas, The Onge, The Great Andamanese and the Shompens were the sole inhabitants of the Andaman Islands until the Danish and British arrived in the eighteenth and mid-nineteenth century. These tribes are believed to have been living here for 60,000 years. These primitive tribes have been living in isolation with each other; that is the reason why language of one tribe is not understood by another. The Shompens are Mongoloids and inhabit the Great Nicobar Island whereas the other four primitive tribes are Negritos inhabiting the Andaman Islands. All the tribals are non-vegetarians. To prevent the primitive tribes from the exploitation by the outsiders the area inhabited by the primitive tribes has been declared as tribal reserve area. Entry into the reserve area without permission is liable for punishment with imprisonment and fine. Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti (AAJVS) , an autonomous body set up in 1976 looks after the welfare of these primitive tribes.

Great Andamanese inhabit the 'Strait Island' located 53 nautical miles from Port Blair towards the east. The Great Andamanese are a negrito tribe. The Great Andamanese tribe was killed in large numbers by the British during their occupation of the Andaman Islands, There population at that time was estimated to be above 6000. One such event known as the 'Battle of Aberdeen' killed thousands of Great Andamanese in a single day. Due to their decreasing population the Andaman and Nicobar Administration decided to colonize the tribes on isolated Strait island. Their population has grown to a number of 43 at present from a lowest known low of 10 in past. Since Andaman group of Island is very accessible, the culture of Great Andamanese is greatly affected by outside modern world. The popularity of Hindi movies and film-stars is one such example of outside influence. In spite of the all influences they still have retained much of their traditional cultures and customs. They are superstitious, for instance they believe that by chopping palm leaves into the sea water they are able to keep the sea storms away. The Great Andamanese are good artisans and they are comfortable with both traditional and modern tools. They prepare their own ornaments, baskets, tools and Earthen pots. The ornaments they wear is made up of leaves, barks, and shells which is worn during traditional functions and dances. They have their own system and practice of medicine for instance for chronic back aches they pierce their body with a small piece of glass in a belief that it will drain off the bad blood from the person and thus relieve him/her from the pain. Before the advent of glass pointed stones were used for the purpose of piercing. The new generation is sent to school and few of the local youth have been absorbed into Govt. jobs in the Island itself.

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