The Tribal Culture
Since pre-historic times these islands were the home of aboriginal tribes. The tribes in the Andaman group of islands are the Great Andamanese, Ongese, Jarawas and Sentinels, all of Negrito origin, while the tribes in the Nicobars are the Nicibarese and Shompens, both of Mongoloid stock.
The first settlement by the British took place in 1789, which was later abandoned in 1796. The second settlement was basically a penal settlement, taken up in 1858 after the First War of Independence. The people who came after independence were from various regions of the mainland with different languages, caste, religion, and other cultural background. In 1901,the population was 24,549, which included Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Sikhs. As per 1991 census the population is 2,80,661.
Persons of all faiths- Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs etc., and of all languages like Hindi,Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil Telugu, Punjabi, Nicobari, etc., live together in complete peace and harmony. Inter-religion and inter-regional marriages are common. This amazing racial and cultural mix is correctly described as "Mini India".
Impact Of Christianity
French Jesuit missionaries made first attempt in the 16th century to propagate Christianity but did not succeed. Danes took over these islands in 1756 but they too failed to introduce Christianity. However, only in 1869 after British took possession of the island from Danes that Christianity saw its first dawn on these island and first church was made in Car Nicobar in 1903. V. Solomon, Thumouswamy, a Tamil from Madras originally a non-Christian was first apostle to the Nicobar Islands. His disciple John Richardson Hacherka represented first time Andaman and Nicobar Islands in Parliament of India.
First Church at Katchal was opened only on 8th January 1962. Now there are many big beautiful churches besides many large Hindu temples present on the islands. However, influences of Christianity have affected indigenous traditions, worship systems and belief. But the tribes in 'Ponda' and other villages still follow their ancient worship system.
First Muslims to settle down in Nicobar Islands were "Minicoyans" from Laccadive Island in the Arabian Sea. R. Akoojee Jadwet, a prominent Muslim from Surat , Gujarat , during British period made some impact on these islands. Jadwet people had financial agreement with British government and for decades they had total economic trade monopoly on these islands.