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Study indicates genetic links between Lakshadweep, Maldives

Ahmed Aiham
07 May 2019, MVT 14:00
The people of Minicoy (Maliku) seen during a traditional dance. The clothing and metal pot dances are largely similar to the traditional dances of Maldives. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES
Ahmed Aiham
07 May 2019, MVT 14:00

A genetic study conducted by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) indicated strong genetical links between the people of Lakshadweep, and Maldives, Sri Lanka and India.

According to the study titled 'The peopling of Lakshadweep Archipelago', CCMB "analysed 557 individuals from eight major islands for mitochondrial DNA and 166 individuals for Y chromosome markers."

The research was able to find a strong founder effect for both paternal and maternal lineages.

The study also uncovered minor gene linkages with East and Western Eurasia.

As per Indian English news 'Deccan Chronical', Senior Author and Chief Scientist Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj stated that "we expected the presence of genetic signatures of ancient people such as Andamanese and Australian aboriginals" due to Lakshadweep being an early migration route from Africa to Andaman and Australia.

However, the genetic data uncovered that the majority of human ancestry is largely derived from South Asia.

Part of the coastal region of Minicoy. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES

The eight major islands of Lakshadweep studied were Agatti, Andorth, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kiltan and Minicoy - locally known as 'Maliku'.

CCMB's Director Dr Rakesh K. Mishra said that the genetic research on the islanders would lead to a study of their health profiles in the near future.

Historical records of Minicoy and Lakshadweep note that Maldives once ruled over the area but was later governed by Ali Raja of Cannanore. On November 1, 1956, India formally annexed Minicoy and incorporated it into the Union Territory of Laccadive Minicoy and Amindivi Islands, which was later renamed to Lakshadweep in 1973.

The lighthouse in Minicoy. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES

In December 1976, India and Maldives signed a maritime boundary treaty whereby Minicoy was placed on the Indian side of the boundary.

Lakshadweep is an archipelago of about 35 islands, but the literal meaning of Lakshadweep is “one hundred thousand islands” in Sanskrit and has a resident population of roughly 65,000 people.

Minicoy is situated approximately 120 kilometres north of the northernmost island of Thuraakunu, Haa Dhaalu Atoll, in Maldives.

The majority of the population follow Islam and are ethnically similar to the Malayali people of Kerala state and the Maldivian sub-ethnic-group 'Mahls'. All Mahls are native to Minicoy and Lakshadweep.

According to local media Mihaaru, the 'Dhivehi Ganduvaru', loosely translated to 'Maldivian Palace', still exists on the island of Minicoy. The palace was a residence of former Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al Auzam.

The Maldivian script 'Thaana' is seen on an institutes signage. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES

The cultural traits of Minicoy including manners, customs, and food differ from Lakshadweep and are more similar to Maldives. Minicoy uses the Maldivian 'Thaana' script and utilizes the 'Malikubas', a dialect of the 'Dhivehi' (Maldivian) language.

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