Maldives culture has a vivid and varied background that cloaks you in a mist of warmth created by the charm of the sea and the mystic tradition of the atolls. Since Maldives plays host to numerous communities, it essentially has a multi-cultural spirit, which will make you feel welcome. You can experience the pleasures of this land of festivity by enjoying the native music and folk performances, which are integral part of the culture of Maldives.
There is a mystery about the ethnic origin of the Maldivians as some say the initial dwellers in Maldives were from Southern India and Sri Lanka, whereas others predict it was the Aryans who sailed some 4000 years ago from the Indus Valley. In 1153 A.D., the country welcomed Islam, but archaeologists have found traces of Hinduism and Buddhism in the early days of Maldives. Coming from such diverse backgrounds, Maldivians can be similar in their features to the inhabitants of South East Asian, Arabian and African mariners.
Family Life in the Maldives
The communities in the island are close-knit and act as a kind of extended family supporting each other through thick and thin. Since families and neighbours know each other, children receive the care of people other than their parents – this integrated community is part of the . Here, the traditional gender roles are generally observed where men go out to fish during the day and women take care of the household responsibilities.
Maldivians usually speak Dhivehi but English is very popular and quite widely spoken in Maldives. You won’t find trouble in communicating with them in English. You can experience this when you are staying in the “real Maldives” unlike the boring English dominated resorts. Interestingly, due to the diversity of cultures in Maldives, every isle seems to have a special pronunciation of the dialect and vocabulary. In the 16th century, when the country gained freedom from Portuguese rule, the Maldivian script called Thaana was invented with 24 letters writing from right to left to fit Arabic words used frequently in the language.
Islam is the predominant religion in Maldives, with the Maldivians following the Islamic calendar and celebrating Muslim festivals as a part of . Education about religion is a must in school and home along with other subjects, with special emphasis given to Arabic language that is taught from infancy. Ramadan and Kuda Eid are celebrated in Maldives with pomp and splendour.
Music and Dance
The Maldives is known for its rich culture and tradition and the richness in its history flows down through how the people celebrate and enjoy life. One of their most popular ways of celebration is carried out with their most popular form of folk dance and music – the Bodu Beru. This could be enjoyed in some of the inhabited islands of the Maldives.
Many traditional songs and dance forms have died out because of the increasing popularity of Indian and Western pop music. However, the Maldives Island’s Bandiyaa Jehun remained strong and people, not only the Maldivians but also tourists and globe trotters place and recognize its own importance.
Maldivians are skilled craftsmen, whose talents are given testimony by the ornately carved tombstones in Hukuru Miskiiy in Male and others gravestones. These skills of past have been passed down to many generations and are revived again with the beginning of tourism. Old and new mosques and the Islamic Centre of Maldives display verses from Holy Quran by means of the art of calligraphy. In craft, Maldives used to produce black corals and tortoiseshell ornaments, which are prohibited now in a bid to conserve the environment. Yet decorative flower vases and pillboxes for example are still available from the bustling market. The culture of Maldives boasts artisans who produce a range of products from wooden lacquer ware to mats and dhonis (boats).
Wooden Lacquer Ware – These are pieces of wood emptied out to create ornate containers, boxes and objects in all shapes and sizes Produced exclusively in Thulhaadhoo in Baa Atoll, these wood works are lacquered with red, yellow and black resin strings and soft flowery patterns.
Mats – The women of Gadhdhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll are famous for weaving gorgeous red mats known as Thundu Kunaa in the local language, Dhivehi. From the nearest isle of Fioari, the women collect the reeds, which are dried and tinted with various dyes ranging from beige to black. Into these mats, intricate and abstract designs are weaved unique to the skill and imagination of the weaver.
Boat Building – Boats or dhonis are made not by any proper design, as the boat gets its design as it is created. This boat building style is a tradition that continues to remain an integral part of the Maldives Culture still today. The size of the dhonis varies depending on purpose and they all run with the help of diesel power
Live the culture
You can of course learn more about the culture of Maldives during your stay. Our guest houses are located in real local Maldivian islands where the culture of the islands is all around.