Island Tourism Festival
Andaman and Nicobar Island faces a peak influx of tourists the end of year and the beginning of a new year, in the winter months. Every year Andaman and Nicobar Islands celebrate an important annual event in the month of December-January. To add to the already bustling and lively beauty of the islands, the Island Tourism Festival brings its own flavour. The added charm enhances the festive fervour. This festival aims at boosting the tourism attraction for Andamans as the chosen destination when the world sees the maximum movement of tourists from one for the world to the other. This festival is organized by the Andaman and Nicobar Administration, Port Blair. The festival showcases the unique and protected culture and traditions of the archipelago. People from various echelons of the society come together to participate and to make it a beautiful success. Performing arts forms a special attraction of this event apart from other brilliant performances.
This festival attracts participation from people belonging to different religious group and culture. A vivid reflection of the cosmopolitan culture of the region is demonstrated via the exhibitions, dances, songs and various group performances during the days of the festival. Tourists and localites alike enjoy the dances, live performances of tribal songs and dances, magic shows and other performances, shop at the handicrafts stores and take part in adventure sports. The most popular winter sports exhibited and drawing crowds in Island Tourism Festival can be identified as parasailing and boating.
There are a lot of attractions and entertainment options for children as well. They too enjoy this winter extravaganza. The event also draws quite a few entrepreneurs, government agencies and interested personnel from various other fields apart from a huge crowd of tourists and travellers.
Highlights of Island Tourism Festival
Island Tourism Festival interests the hundreds of outsiders visiting Andaman. The exhibition contributes significantly to the regional or local development. This festival serves as a great platform for all amateur artists and artisans who bring and present their best. The art works compiled through months of hard work are showcased and draw huge appreciation along with commercial gains. The medley of artistic creations are exhibited for sale.
Among the rare, unique and beautiful items that are out up for sale, antique items and home decors form the most coveted spot. This festival also presents the unique Nicobari Hodi race takles, which is a unique water sports event. Apart from that various other shows attract the young and old alike such as puppet show, baby show, dog show. These are especially liked by children. The floating restaurant forms a unique charm where you can avail delicious food, lip-smacking snacks, variety of drinks and local delicacies.
The festival is held chiefly with the promotion of tourism and entertainment of the islands in focus. The main events are held primarily in Port Blair. But as an added attraction, the festival is held in bits and pieces in other places such as Wimberlygunj, Wandoor, Neil, Havelock and even in the islands of, Rangat, Mayabunder, Diglipur, Hut Bay, Car Nicobar, Kamorta and Campbell Bay.
The festival continues for 10 long days. There is usually a gala inaugural function garced by the most important people of the islands. It is also aired in all the major national channel channels in TV not only in India but also abroad. The festival grounds come alive buzzing with activity and visited by people from various spheres of life and tourists.
The exotic performances of the mainland artists, music bands of wide acclaim, singers from Bollywood, recognised dancers and other talented performers enthral the guests. The Artists of East Zone and South Zone Cultural Centres are usually invited by the Art and Culture Department of Andaman for performing in the islands out of Port Blair. Hasya Kavi Sammelan is organized with great pomp by the official language department of Island Administration to entertain the guests through laughter in a light vein. To deal with the influx of the huge crowd, alternate venue arrangements are made at Netaji stadium Port Blair.
General festivities that light up the Andamans all through the year
Andaman has attained the status of Mini India that was ascribed by the former Prime Minister Srimati Indira Gandhi.
Andaman truly represents the diversity of our country and is a conglomeration of a variety of castes, creeds, sects, religions, provinces, customs, eating habits and lifestyles. People from various different backgrounds mingle and celebrate their joy of togetherness. The fairs and festivities play an important role in the life of the people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The fairs and festivals decide the touring dates for travellers who look forward to be a part of the gala celebrations. They extend their touring dates to accommodate the festivities or they stay back on impulse after falling in love with the local traditions and cultural spectacle.
Various trade fairs, exhibitions, Navy Mela are held in March in the various parts of the island. The various religious festivals are celebrated by the different communities and are participated usually by all. People of all religions the Hindus, Muslims, Christians and the Sikhs promote the socio-cultural events and festivals. All festivals are celebrated with equal fervour and enthusiasm.
Kali Puja is celebrated to worship Goddess Maa Kali as one who fought to eradicate the effects of evil from the face of earth. The festival falls in the Hindu month of Ashwin in the months of October-November. It is a major festival of the Bengalees and is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The temple of Goddess Kali at Prem Nagar is decorated beautifully with coloured lights and diyas. Puja and aarti are performed. Thousands of devotees visit the temple where image is installed and the next day the image immersed in the Haddo Jetty, Aberdeen Jetty and Junglighat Jetty after carries in a huge procession.
Another major festval of the Hindus especially Bengalees is celebrated in the Hindu month of Ashwein. Even people of other communities celebrate this puja I he form of Navratri. It falls in the English calendar month of September-October. The different Bengali associations in each village or locality create huge decorative piece of idols of Goddess Durga carved out of clay. Durga is worshipped along with the other Gods and Goddesses such as Karthik, Ganesha, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Elaborate puja arrangements are made that continues for 5 days and end with Dusshrera or Viajaya Dashami.
Diwali or the festival of lights is celebrated with great energy and enthusiasm in the various parts of the island and people enjoy bursting crackers and lighting diyas.
Post breakfast, proceed towards the Havelock with its magnificent beaches and crystal clear waters. Post lunch, after a short siesta maybe proceed to Radhanagar Beach. Enjoy the day at leisure taking in the beauty and peace emanating from the sandy and sunny Radhanagar Beach. [Optional: You can then visit the calm and serene Vijayanagar Beach on the eastern coast of Havelock. The cosy beach dotted with mahua trees make for an ideal photo-shoot location.
Rest of the day at leisure. Go for shopping or a long walk or some other activity. Overnight stay at Havelock.
Ganaesh Puja is very popular in all the parts of the island and is participated by one and all except the aboriginal tribes. It falls in the Hindu calendar month of Bhadrapad Sudha Chaturthi. People hailing from the southern parts of the Indian subcontinent call it Vinayaga chaturthi. Ganesha idols are bought and worshipped in almost every household. The Sri Lakshmi Vinayagar Temple at Aberdeen Bazaar, Shri Karpaga Vinyagar Temple at Goal Ghar and temples of other locations are beautifully decorated and attract lots of worshippers. Arti is performed accompanied by elaborate rituals. Puja continues for three days. People from all castes and creeds mingle together forgetting their differences. A local dish is prepared from rice flour, jiggery and coconut that is called Kozhukatti and is offered as Prasad. Also sundal, another dish made from boiled chana or gram and fried with mustard is prepared on the occasion.
Gurunanak Jayanti is an important festival of the Sikhs and is celebrated all over the island.
Holi or the festival of colours is celebrated during the Hindu calendar month of Phalgun and is celebrated on a full moon day. It usually occurs during the months of February or March. Holi is enjoyed by the inhabitants of various social stature, irrespective of the religious beliefs. Happiness and joy of colours spread all around in which people eat, drink and make merry. Relatives and friends pour in at every household and communities gather to have a joyful festivity.
Ayappa Puja is one of the most important festivals celebrated every year on 14 or 15 January. The devotees perform Puja three times a day starting from 5 a.m. in the morning that continues for 45 to 60 days. The devotees visit the Ayappa Temple to worship Lord Ayappa. Devotees take part in singing bhajans accompanied by instruments during Puja.
This is the second biggest festival of Hindus and is celebrated in the honour of Goddess Arulmigu Sri Mariamman. The temple is located in the Astinabad Village, which is at a distance of 6 kilometres from Port Blair and is connected by bus routes. The bus route terminates at Chidiya Tappu. Localites believe that Goddess Mariamman is the supreme protector of these distant isles. A very popular folklore says that when there were a lot of obstructions in the way of building Dhannikari Dam, the constructor had prayed to Goddess Mariamman who encouraged him to carry on his effort and finlly the construction was complete. After succeeding in his mission, the constructor had built a huge temple in the honour of the Goddess and donated huge amounts in her name.
A festival worshipping the snakes forms an important ritual among the inhabitants.
This festival is considered quite imporatnat and is celebrated in the honur of God Sri Vetrimalai Murugan or Karthik, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Sri Vetrimalai Murugan Temple is one of the oldest temples in these islands. Even foreigner grace this temple to have a glimpse of the God. God Murugan is believed to grant the wishes of his devotees. During the festive days, the temple is decorated with colourful lights and banners. People from all nearby islands reach Port Blair to take part in the festivities. The roads from Haddo along to the Vetrimalai Murugan temple remain crowded. People of various religions offer lime juice, orange juice, water, butter milk nd other food items to the devotees.
Pongal is another festival that is celebrated especially by the people belonging to the southern parts of India.
This is another festival in the honour of Lord Shiva. The Shiva temples are the centres of this festival. The year 2000 onwards this festival had gained momentum. Two Paradhosha Pujas are held every month. One is held at New Moon and the other at Full Moon. Lord Shiva along with his consort Goddess Parvati and Nandi Dev are all decked and the devotees will offer rice as Prasad to all, which is then distributed among the devotees. The rice is usually mixed with jaggery and cardamom. The Shiva Temples witness long line of devotees waiting for their turn to offer prayers and puja.
According to the Hindu calendar, Ram Navami is celebrated in the month of Chaitra and occurs in the English calendar months of March or April. This festival marks the birthday of Lord Ram. Special pujas and aartis are offered in the Lord Ram Temples located in Aberdeen, Kumrakheti, Haddo and Dairy Farm. Temples are decorated with lights and musical performances are arranged to honour the Gods and Goddesses.
Ramzan is an important festival of the Muslim community.
This festival is in the honour of Lord Sri Ganesh. It is performed to deliver the people of all evils and free them from all troubles and danger, sorrows and sufferings. It is performed on the fourth day from the full moon. The devotees prepare dishes such as Kozhukattai, Pongal, Sundal and laddu as Prasad. The Ganesha Temples of the islands see a lot of devotees on this puja day.
This puja is celebrated in educational institutions, organizations, individual households and Saraswati is considered the Goddess of education and learning. It is a special favourite among all student communities.
Christmas is a major festival and since this is time when Andaman sees the maximum crowd, this festival commands more importance.
This is a spring festival and people enjoy the beauties of spring and celebrate the bounties of nature.
This is an ancient ritual performed in Andamans and is organised by the Hindus. It is performed by Hindu married ladies. The prayers are offered to Goddess Maha Lakshmi. This is a community celebration. The various temples of the island such as Shri Ganesh temple at Dairy farm, Shri Vetrimalai Murugan temple at Port Blair and Mariyamma Temple at Astinabad celebrate it. The ladies or Sumangalis go to the temples with flowers, vermillion, oil, turmeric and delicacies to offer prayers. Prasad is distributed to the devotees at the end of the two-hour long puja.
This festival is common among the Punjabis. It celebrates the birthday of Sikh Guru Nanak and falls in the Karthik Purnima of the Hindu calendar. Police Gurudwara in Aberdeen Bazar, Dr. Diwan Singh Gurudwara celebrate with songs, prayers, scripture readings and bhajans. Processions are carried out glorifying the name of Gurunanakjee.
Prakash Yatra is a unique procession organised by the Christians a day before Christmas. Participated by more than 6,000 people each carrying lighted candle and uttering scriptures from Holy Bible this is a peaceful celebration. People crown along the procession route to view the gathering.