Mains Practice Question


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Lakshadweep’s culture and society evolved much differently than the rest of India due to its geographical isolation and absence of colonialism. Discuss.
A Simple Introduction about Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep, India's smallest Union Territory, comprising 36 islands spread over 32 sq km, boasts a unique cultural and societal fabric shaped by its geographical isolation and historical context. In the 16th century, the islands came under the dominion of the Arakkal kingdom of Kannur, Kerala's only Muslim dynasty. The kingdom's control over Lakshadweep was significant, driven by strategic and economic considerations, amid competition with European powers.

It is the central part of the answer and one should understand the demand of the question to provide rich content.

The evolution of Lakshadweep's culture and society has been markedly distinct from the rest of India due to several factors

  • Islamic Influence: Unlike other regions where Islam spread primarily through the Mappila community, Lakshadweep's Islamic heritage has deeper roots in its interactions with Arab merchants and sailors. Consequently, the Islam practiced here bears distinct characteristics, reflecting an amalgamation of Malayali, Arab, Tamil, and Kannadiga influences.
  • Matriliny and Societal Structure: One of the defining features of Lakshadweep's society is its tradition of matriliny, where lineage and property are traced through the maternal line. This unique social structure sets it apart from mainstream Indian society and contributes to its cultural richness.
  • Pre-Islamic Influences: Despite its predominantly Islamic character, traces of pre-Islamic Hindu practices are evident in Lakshadweep. Archaeological findings, such as buried idols, and traditional island songs that reference Hindu deities and rituals, suggest the presence of a pre-Islamic Hindu society.
  • Gradual Conversion to Islam: Scholars suggest that the conversion to Islam in Lakshadweep occurred gradually over time, facilitated by regular interactions with Arab traders and travelers navigating the Arabian Sea. This prolonged engagement fostered cultural exchanges and facilitated the assimilation of Islamic beliefs and practices.
  • Inhabited Islands and Lineage: Certain islands, such as Amini, Kalpeni, Andrott, Kavaratti, and Agatti, are among the oldest inhabited ones in Lakshadweep. Families residing here often trace their lineage to converts from Nair and Namboodiri Brahmin communities on the mainland, highlighting the diverse socio-cultural origins of the islanders.
 The ending of the answer should be on a positive note and it should have a forward-looking approach.

Lakshadweep's cultural and societal landscape stands as a testament to its rich heritage, shaped by centuries of maritime trade, migration, and cultural exchanges. Despite its small size, the archipelago's distinctiveness underscores the importance of recognizing and preserving India's diverse cultural tapestry.

Other Points to Consider 

Important Islands of Lakshadweep


Previous Year Questions

1. Given the diversities among tribal communities in India, in which specific contexts should they be considered as a single category? (2022)

2. Assess the main administrative issues and socio-cultural problems in the integration process of Indian Princely States. (2021)


05-Apr 2024