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A Kaleidoscope of Seychelles Culture

Culture of Seychelles

An archipelago consisting of 115 islands, Seychelles is located in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa. Neighbour to tourist destinations like Mauritius and Maldives, Seychelles is a quiet place with many uninhabited islands which is ideal for a tranquil vacation. Since most of the Seychellois are immigrants, the culture has been affected to a large extent by the amalgamation of different races- African, European, French and Indian. What is even more interesting to note is that the society is matriarchal- with women yielding power at homes. So, let's take a sneak peek into the multiracial and vibrant culture of Seychelles.

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Festivals of Seychelles

The Creole Festival

If you want to witness the melting of cultures of different ethnic groups into one place all at the same time, the Creole Festival is something you definitely would not want to miss. Held in October every year, this week-long celebration is an escape from the dull, monotonous life. You can dive into the sea of cultures and explore exotic cuisines, drinks, music and dance and that too with a multi-racial tinge. The festival is organized on the islands of Praslin, La Digue and Mahe. The Creole Festival is a symbolic tribute to the colourful culture, customs, traditions and practices of the Creole lifestyle.

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Seychelles Ocean Festival

Seychelles Ocean Festival is an underwater festival organised every year in December. The festival comprises photographic competitions, school events, diving and snorkeling. It is celebrated primarily to remind the Seychellois of their rich underwater reserves and a need to protect and preserve them. What is even more exciting is that you can flaunt your underwater photography skills and bring home some really cool prizes.

The Feast of the Assumption of Mary

This is a local festival celebrated in the La Digue island. Some devotees from Praslin and Mahe also join in the festivities. It is held in the Church situated at La Digue and is a religiously significant festival (Christianity is the main religion of Seychelles). People offer their prayers to Virgin Mother Mary and seek her benedictions.

Seychelles Cuisine

Seychelles' cuisine reflects hues of flavours of France, Africa, India and Europe. Being an island country, the staple food consists of a number of fish and shellfish dishes along with coconut, mangoes and breadfruit. Ladob and shark curry are other finger-licking dishes which must be given a shot. Ladob, when served as a dessert, is a creamy sauce made of sweet potato, plantain, coconut milk, nutmeg and vanilla. You really cannot resist the savoury version of Ladob which is cooked with salt, a bit of spices, plantain and cassava. On the other hand, shark curry is prepared with mashed, skinned shark in bilimbi juice, lime, salt and aromatic spices. If you are in Seychelles, then you really cannot miss the lip-smacking bat curry (Civet de chauve souris), cassava pudding, fruit bat and Satini Rekin all of which are inspired by flavours of France, Africa and India. And if you are a wine lover, then you must try the Seychelles specialties: palm wine calou(or kalou), bakka rum, Seybrew and Eku. The  cuisine of Seychelles is a unique combination of flavours of different regions and  you cannot resist yourself from trying it.

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Seychelles Traditional Dance

Do groove to the African rhythm in the Seychellois way: Moutia which is a traditional dance of Seychelles. With deep roots in the history of African slavery, Moutia is the centre of attraction in all the celebrations and festivities of Seychelles. Moutia is basically swaying your hips to and fro to the beats of African music in a light-hearted fashion. Another traditional yet exotic dance style in Seychelles is the Sega dance. Women dressed in skirts with a wide frill swing their waists in the most mesmerising way and you cannot help but join them. To top it all, Kanmtole is a ballet inspired from the European culture. You would not definitely want to miss any of these rare and unique dance forms especially if you are a party freak!

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Music in Seychelles

If you are in Seychelles, your heart cannot stop but race against the myriad beats of zez, bom (Brazilian berimbau), polka, taarab, soukos, French folk and pop, and Sega.  Over 200 years old, the Seychelles music makes extensive use of percussion instruments. The tangy Moutya is the most popular, and its tunes can often be heard in bazaars along the beach. Seychelles music has its own version of the European contredanse called the Kontredans, and of Reggae called the Seggae and Mouggae (mingled with the tunes of Sega and Moutya respectively). Zouk is a new genre in Seychelles and is a perfect cocktail of traditional music and modern, fast-paced beats.

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Seychelles' Art and Craft

Seychelles has few original art and craft of its own. However, the Seychelles Craft Village is a must if you want to discover some historical and authentic craft pieces of Seychelles. The Craft Village is a reminder to the rich and variegated cultural heritage of Seychelles. The village houses Grann Kaz Plantation House, dating back to around 1870, and the 'Lakaz Rosa' a replica of a servant house typical of colonial times. The Craft Village has some quaint, peculiar objects delightful to see and handle. There is a plethora of handmade jewellery, coconut items and batik clothing. One can really buy some flamboyant souvenirs from the Craft Village.

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Architecture

Seychelles' architecture mirrors the Colonial past and has a quite distinctive yet interesting style. The traditional architecture comprised lakou, kalorife and thatched roofs. The townhouses often resembled the Victorian era and had roofs made of corrugated iron sheets. The houses usually had kitchens located outside. However, these traditional houses have become less common these days, and have been replaced by newly designed houses with a flat roof as is seen in other former British colonies.

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Seychelles Traditional Dress

Dressing in Seychelles has been influenced to a great extent, by the French and British colonists. Kazak is a waist-length, long-sleeve blouse that came into vogue in the late eighteenth century. There is also evidence of hats and shoes being imported from France via Mauritius during the colonial era. However, modern clothing consists of a thin cotton fabric which is best suited for the humid, tropical weather in Seychelles.

Religion in Seychelles

According to a 2010 census, a majority of the population follows Christianity. However, a smaller proportion of followers of Islam and Hinduism also exist.

Seychelles offers a serene holiday extravaganza-the deep blue azure waters washing off the golden sand is a sight to behold. The spellbinding galvanisation of cultures makes the holiday experience even more rich and memorable.

This post was published by Kirti Dass