By Glynn Burridge
The Seychellois are a colourful and harmonious blend of different nationalities, all of whom have brought something of their own customs and cultures to the islands. The result is a culture enriched from many continents. Where other nations live in fear of their neighbours, the Seychelles has blended its influences harmoniously with a live-and let-live philosophy. In a nutshell, Seychelles is one of the very few places on earth where harmony is a way of life.
There is nothing more volatile in the world than religious differences, yet in Victoria (world’s smallest capital) you will find a Roman Catholic cathedral, an Anglican cathedral, a Seventh Day Adventist Church, a mosque, a Hindu Temple, and halls of worship for several other denominations. It is not uncommon to witness a public walks organised jointly by several religions.
Cathedral of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. This imposing Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Catholic Diocese in Seychelles. Photo courtesy Gerard Larose. All rights reserved. Hindu Temple – Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar; the only Hindu temple in the Seychelles. Photo courtesy Barbara & Hartmut Röder. All rights reserved.
Of all the imported religions, French Catholism has proved the most influential and even survived British rule. Mass and other parish feasts are colourful occasions for Seychellois to dress up in their Sunday best and socialise.
Creole Language is spoken by everyone and is an adaptation of 17th Century French with other words and expressions coming from Africans and Malagasises. It has been elevated to national language status, earning the same respect that English and French receive. Today Creole is a written language as well as spoken. Such freedom has resulted in an outburst of creativity in plays, poetry and prose. The Creole culture is today a major attraction for worldwide visitors who want to experience a unique way of life.
Creole architecture is another important cultural aspect of the islands. The designs of some of the grand old houses with their steep roofs are representative of an architecture adapted for comfortable living in the tropics. Houses have many openings to catch the island breezes. Modern architecture attempts to assimilate traditional styles.
Kenwyn House. Seychelles’ architecture is at once distinctive in its style and practical in its design. It clearly illustrates the influences of its colonial past and combines these with practical considerations such as steep roofs to shoot the rain. Photo courtesy Gerard Larose. All rights reserved.
Yet another jewel of the cultural crown is cuisine Creole gastronomy is born of this spectacular fusion of cultures and offers the subtlety and innovation of French cuisine as well as the piquant flavours and exotic culinary combinations of the East across a fascinating spectrum of textures, tastes, colours and ingredients. Here, among the islands, the ocean’s abundant reserves of seafood, and the islands’ ample harvest of fresh vegetables and fruits will find their way to your table with a uniqueness, innovation and true gourmet flair that is guaranteed to seduce the most refined palate.
Fresh fruits displayed at the market in Victoria. Photo courtesy Gerard Larose. All rights reserved. Chicken coconut curry with rice on the side served in coconut shells. Photo courtesy Elsa Bouchereau – STB. All rights reserved.
One diary date not to be missed by locals and visitors alike is the main celebration of all things Seychelles – the annual Creole Festival in October.