Fairs and Festivals in Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Andaman is given name the Mini India by former prime miniter Mrs Indira Gandhi. Andaman truly represent indai with all caste,sects,religion mingling and celerebrating their happines together. Fairs and festivals playa an important in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands tourism. Many a times tourists stay back for a week in order to see the fairs and festivals and also extend their stay after seeing the impressive fairs. In this tourist paradise, fairs and festivals are celebrated in almost all parts. Generally, fairs are related to Govt. programmers as islands held on March, Trade Fairs, Navy Mela exhibition etc. Andaman and Nicobar administration celebrates one important festival namely Andaman Tourism Festival.
People of concerned religious groups celebrate the remaining festivals but remarkable thing is that People from all religious groups participate in one another's festivals without any hesitation. All religions celebrate their own festivals according to their economic status and style. Here Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs are all treated as equal. Inter caste and religion marrige is also common thing. This unity is a specialty given by history and goes a long way in promoting the socio-cultural integrated festivals in Andaman islands. Besides the religious festivals like Deepavali, Ramzan, Christmas etc., among the popular festivals, the most important festivals are linked with Hindu culture, traditions and faith.

They are:-
1. Kali pooja
2. Durga Pooja
3. Deepavali
4. Shivaratri
5. Ganesh pooja
6. Gurunanak jayanti
7. Holi
8. Ayappa Pooja
9. Mariamman Thiruvizha
10. Nag panchami
11. Panguni Utthiram
12. Pongal
13. Pradhosha pooja
14. Ram Navami
15. Ramzan
16. Sankata Hara Chaturthi pooja
17. Saraswati pooja
18. Christmas
19. Vasant panchami
20. Villakku pooja


Sri Kali Pooja

This festival is associated with the worship of Goddess Maa Kali as the Goddess of ruining the evil. In the Hindu calendar, this comes in the month of Aswin, which falls in the months of October-November. The Bengalis take keen interest and celebrate in enthusiastically. Kali temple at prem nagar is decorated beautifully with colored lamps. Prescribed pooja and artis are performed. A lot of Hindus particularly Bengalis. Visit the temple and other places where the images of Goddess Maa kali are installed and worshiped. Next day, the image is taken in the form of procession with songs and dances, to haddo jetty, Aberdeen jetty and/or junglighat jetty for immersion. A large crowd assembles to witness the procession at Goal Ghar, opposite to State Library, Junglighat junction, dairy farm junction, Aberdeen Bazar, Delanipur, Haddo etc.


Durga Pooja

This is also an important festival of Hindus celebrated with great enthusiasm in the Hindu calendar month of Ashweis. This pooja is celebrated by all Hindus in the name of Navaratri pooja for nine days. Every year Durga pooja is celebrated in these islands during the month of September-October. Bengali associations in each village and some organizations make the images of Goddess Durga in a highly decorative manner out of clay along with images of other gods like Ganesh, Sri Karthik(Sri Murugan)etc and they perform pooja with the help of priests.

Ayappa Pooja in Andaman

Ayappa pooja is celebrated every year on 14th or 15th January depending upon the date of Thai 1st(Tamil month). The devotees observe for a period of 45 to 60 days preceding the 1st day of Thai month. All Ayappa devotees perform poojas three times a day starting from 5 O'clock in the morning(for 45 to 60 days). On Thai 1st,the devotees go to Ayappa temple to worship Lord Ayappa.During thes days bhajans, songs about Ayappa with clapping and other musical instruments is performed during pooja time. It is very interesting to see the strong belief that this pooja and worship bring the blessing of Lord Ayappa.


Ganesh Pooja

All people other than aboriginal have been celebrating this pooja as a festival.Ganesh pooja is celebrated in the Hindu calendar month of Bhadrapad Sudha Chaturthi every year. People from the south call this pooja "Vinayaga chaturthi".people buy Ganesh idols according to their requirements. The Ganesh temples at Aberdeen Bazaar, Goal Ghar etc.are beautifully decorated and the priests, lyers or pujaris,perform special poojas or 'Arti' in Honour of God Ganesh.Of all the Ganesh temples, Sri Lakshmi Vinayagar Temple at Aberdeen Bazaar and Shri Karpaga Vinyagar at Goal Ghar are the chief fascinations on the occasion. Generally, the pooja is celebrated for three days .The temples are full of devotees(Bhakts). During the pooja,people offer "kozhukattai" and "Sundal" to the deity "vinayagar" and after the pooja, the Kozhukatti and sundals are distributed among the devotees present. some organizations and offices or group of people also perform common pooja. A big image of God Ganesh is installed at an important place in the village or organizations erect special pandals for community poojas. Temples are brimming with devotees on all three days. People from other religions also visit the temple with their family members. There is no distinction of caste, color ad creed to celebrate this pooja as a festival in these islands. A dish prepared out of rice flour, jiggery and coconut called"Kozhukatti" is offered to Lord Ganesh as an important item of pooja Prasad. Another dish prepared from boiled chana(gram) and fried with mustard is called "Sundal".


Gokula Ashtami

The Punjabis celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm. It commemorates the birthday of Sikh Guru Nanak. This festival is celebrated according to the Hindu calendar on Karthik Poornima day. Police Gurudwara in Aberdeen Bazar, Dr. Diwan singh Gurudwara, just behind the state of India, main songs, prayers, readings, bhajans etc. are the special features on the occasions. They organize a simple but excellent, calm procession with the songs and bhajans with the sayings "Gurunanakji ki jai". Both men and women participate in the procession on four-wheelers. The way organize it is very attractive.


Holi

According to the Hindu calendar, this festival falls on phalguni poornima day which usually falls during month of February-March. In Holi is celebrated by people of all age groups irrespective of the region. When the people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands play Holi one can see the enthusiasm and happiness on their faces during the festival of colors. Some people go to the temple while the youngsters go to watch movies


Sri Marriamman Thiruvizha (Festival)

This is the second biggest festival of Hindus celebrated in honor of Goddess Arulmigu Sri Mariamman. This temple is situated in Astinabad village, at a distance of six kms. From Port Blair bus terminates on Chidiyatappu route. The belief of all the people from all religions is that Goddess Mariamman has been guarding these islands. There is a famous lore here that when the Dhannikari Dam was being constructed, the constructor could not complete it successfully due to frequent cracks and scratches. Then he prayed to Goddess mariamman by wearing Sedal ornaments and he saw Goddess Marimmanan in his dream and she encouraged him to continue his efforts. After the completion of the dam, the constructor constructed the present temple (RCC building) and deposited some amount of memory in the temple's name for daily conduct of pooja, celebrations and maintenance. Now, all people irrespective of their religion and region visit this temple and worship Goddess Marimman. All tourists, including foreigners, do not leave these islands without offering prayers in these two temples. Their festivals celebrated every year during the month of February. For Goddess Mariamman also, the devotees perform pooja and aarti in the same manner as offered to God Sri Vetrimalai Murugan. Theemithi, Arugandam kavady, Parakkum Kavady, Pal Kavady, Panneer Kavady, llanneer Kavady are the special fascinations for the people, devotees and tourists. The terms parakkum means flying, "Pal" means milk, "Theemithi" means walk on fire, "Arugandam" means troublesome, "llanner" means tender coconut.


Panguni Uttiram

This festival has great importance among the people of these islands. This festival is celebrated to honour God sri Vetrimalai Murugan (God Karthik), the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Sri Vetrimalai (Victroy hill) Murugan temple is the oldest temple in these islands. The important feature of this temple is that, the people of all the region and religions of our country and foreign tourists visit this temple. The strong belief of the people is that their requests are fulfilled and graced by God Murugan. During the festival, the temple is decorated with colorful lights and banners. During the festival period, every day "Anna Dhanam" ids performed. About 10,000 to 15,000 people come to the temple to take part in the anna Dhanam (i.e they eat full meal). Tourists can witness God Vetrimalai Murugan's divine powers. People from other islands flock to Port Blair to take part in this celebration. The roads from haddo to Vetrimalai Murugan temple are full of people. People of all religions offer lime juice, orange juice, slated sweet water, butter milk, and water to all the devotees, visitors, tourists etc. as a partial fulfillment of their promises. The sedal and Kavady bearers walk on fire (thee-mithi) and reach the "Moolasthanam". One can't stand near the fire even at the distance of 6 mtrs. Devotees walk on the fire which means everybody should accept the supreme power of the God Sri Vetrimalai Murugan. The term "Moolasthanam" means the place where the God's statue is situated.


Pradhosha Pooja

This is one of the very important poojas celebrated and offered to Lord Shiva. It is celebrated in all Shiva temples. This pooja was nott given mush importance till 1999. Since 2000 onwards, the islanders have realized the importance of Pradhosha Pooja. There are two Paradhosha poojas every month. One is celebrated during the perod of waxing moon and the other during the period of depreciation moon. Lord Shiva will be decorated with his wife, Goddess Parvati next to him. The security position of Lord Shiva, that is, Nandi Dev (Bhagawan) will also be decorated. The devotees will present rice to Nandi Dev and the same (rice) will be distributed as Prasad to all others present in the temple. Normally, devotees mix jiggery with rice and cardamom to offer as sweet. The specialty of the Pradhosha Pooja is that all demands of the devotees are sent through the security Bhagwan, Sri Nandi Dev which will be granted by Lord Shiva. So, the devotees, immediately after the Aarti, whisper their demands and requests to requests to Nandi Dev (in its ear) to forward the same to Lord Shiva for the boons to be granted. On these days one can see long queue of devotees in the temple.


Prakash Yatra

This is celebrated just a day before Christmas by going in a long procession. Christians from all churches participate in the celebration. About 6000 Christians participates in the celebration/procession. Both males and females participate and each participants carrier a lighted candle by saying some slogans of the Holy Bible. The procession is on foot and is performed in a very calm and peaceful manner. Crowd gathers at different places to witness the procession.


Ram Navami

In the Hindu calendar, Ram navami is celebrated in the month of Chaitra, which falls in the month of March-April. It is celebrated as Lord Ram's birthday. Special poojas and aartis are performed in Ram Temples located in Aberdeen Basthi, Kumrakheti, Haddo and Dairy Farm. This day is recognized as a festival day. Temples are decorated with colorful lights and musical instruments are played, songs on lord Ram and Sita are also presented.


Sankatahara Chatuthi Pooja

This pooja is offered to Lord Sri Ganesh. The meaning of the pooja - the term "sankat" meas "difficulties", problems, sorrows, trails, straits, troubles, sufferings and narrowness" and the term "Hara" means " to put away or to remove". So, to remove their difficult, the devotees offer poojas to lord Sri Ganesh. This pooja is performed on the fourth day from the full moon day. This pooja is performed at the time of the rising moon too. This pooja is performed at the time of the rising moon too. The devotees offer Kozhukattai, Pongal, Sundal, laddu as Prasad to all devotees present in the temple. There is a huge rush in the temple on these days. This pooja is organized and performed in all the Ganesh temples on these islands.


Saraswati Pooja

It is a common festival celebrated with great gusto irrespective of religion. Saraswati pooja is another festival celebrated by all individuals, educational institutions, organizations like Post Office etc. in these islands, and is associated with the worship of goddess maa Saraswati, the Goddess of education and vidhdhai (Vidhya) Knowledge. Continuous Pooja and Aarti are performed throughout the day. All students, public, tourists, employ employees worship the Goddess Maa Saraswati. A large crowd assembles to witness the procession of immersion.


Sri Shivaratri

This is another very important festival celebrated in these islands which falls in the Hindu calendar month of Magha, mainly February-March. Lord Shiva Temples in Delanipur, Pahar Goan, and Garacharma perform special poojas and Aartis with usual decorations. In Sri Vetrimalai Murugan Temple the Shiva Liggam is specially adorned with colorful flowers meant for Lord Shiva. In all Lord Shiva Templese, bhajans, Kirtana, sweet songs, speeches, talks, drams, video films on shiva parvati continue throughout the night


Shashthi Festival

This festival falls on the sixth day after Diwali, in the Hindu calendar of karthik. Devotees purchase Laksharchana tickets costing from Rs. 101 - Rs. 151. Tourists visit these islands during this festival period, purchase tickets, participate in pooja and take the Prasad to their native village/country as a divine symbol of Sri Vetrimalai Murugan, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.


Villakku Pooja

This is one of the oldest poojas organized only by the Hindus. So far this pooja has been organized by the families of the Hindu devotees at their houses. This is performed by by married women. The person who organizes the villakku pooja in her house will call many Sumangalis of different Hindu families to her house every Friday, preferably in the (growing moon) waxing moon period and perform pooja. 'Sumangali" means married woman living with her husband. This villakku pooja is offered to Goddess maa maha Lakshmi. This was the custom prevalent sometime back. Now days, in these islands, Villakku Pooja has become a community celebration. All temples particulary Shri Ganesh temple at Dairy farm, Shri Vetrimalai Murugan temple, Port Blair and Mariyamma Temple at Astinabad, have started celebrating the villakku Pooja. All Sumangalis go to these temples with thrir Kuthu Villakku and other articles like flowers, kumkum, oil, turmeric, sugar candy etc. The Sivachariyar (Priests) will arrange the place for each participant and pooja will begin. All Sumangalis will have to recite the verses very carefully with the priest. This pooja will continue for more than two hours and at the end of it Prasad is distributed to all devotees.


Other Festivals

Other Hindu festivals celebrated here are Nag Phanchmi, Pongal, deepavali, Ram Leela and Vasanta Panchami. Deepavali or Diwali, the festival of lights is an important festival. It is celebrated in the mainland as well as in these islands but there is a lot a difference in celebrations here. Every house, irrespective of their religion or region, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands celebrate Deeplavali by wearing new clothes, preparing and distributing sweets to near and dear ones. During evening hours, the houses are decorated with candles, series of lights and serial lamps and crackers are burst. Next to Deepavali, Maha Karthiakai festival in the honor of God Sri Murugan, the God of knowledge and Courage, acquires importance. Apart from these festivals of the Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, there are also some important festivals which are celebrated among other communities living in these islands. They are - Jains celebrate the birthday of Lord Parasnath and Mahaveer; Buddhists celebrate Buddha Jayamnti, and the Muslims celebrate Muharram, Ramzan, Bakri Eid etc. in which all participate with great enthusiasm

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