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Culture

The Sunny Side of Life

Visitors to the Maldives often remark why Dhivehi, the local lingo, does not have words for greeting and thanking. Coming from very formal cultures, our guests assume that since we lack these words, we are also lacking in these feelings. But nothing can be far from the truth.

For the Maldivians, welcoming a guest is not just a formality to be completed by a curt 'good morning'. It is a moment of sheer joy that is expressed by a natural smile that translates to 'welcome' in any language. Similarly a favour is not simply dismissed by an impersonal 'thank you', but deeply appreciated and the gratitude shown in one's eyes and expression.

Till a few decades back there were no hotels in the Maldives. We simply welcomed our visitors into our homes and treated them as one of our own. Today the increased numbers of visitors do not allow us to do that; so we have built exclusive resorts for them. But the same tradition of hospitality continues.

To see the real Maldivian way of life you must come to one of the inhabited islands. Life is quiet in these islands. No traffic to disturb your walk. You will see more women and children than men, because many of the men are out at sea. Women work on land, farming and processing fish.

In the evening one could see the youth playing a game of football or volleyball. After that they may relax with a video film or listen to the local pop stars on tape.

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Do we need a cultural dress?

Is our nationhood naked without a national dress? Some of us apparently feel so. Perhaps it is a subconscious national desire to keep up with the Joneses, since many neighbors do have national dresses. But many others dont, and its comforting to know that we are by no means alone in our cultural nakedness. In fact, we are in excellent company. Still, it may be worthwhile to see why others have national dresses and what they achieve from them.....
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Matheerah: the Exalted Island

Matheerah is a small scenic island in the lagoon of Hathifushi, Haa Alif Atoll. It is famous throughout the Maldives for its ancient Mausoleum. Interestingly, nobody really knows who the Mausoleum contains, or when it was built. However, old folks in Hathifushi relate a story that sheds some light on the mystery.....
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From African Dance Drumming to Maldivian Bodu Beru

According to oral tradition the people of Feridhoo in North Ari Atoll are descended from Negroes. Feridhuans trace their origins to three slaves freed by King Mueenuddin and settled in the island more than a hundred years back. They even trace the origins of the popular Maldivian dance drumming, bodu beru, to these emancipated slaves....
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Entitlement Ceremony of King Shamsuddin III

King Shamsuddin's Entitlement Ceremony was the last flicker of the candle before the thousand-year- old flame of royalty was finally extinguished in the Maldives. Though the monarchy would linger on for another 60 years, the level of splendor and pageantry seen on this occasion would never be duplicated again.....
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Surrounded by jinnis

The Modern Maldivian does not think of him/herself as superstitious. But the fact remains that like their ancestors over the bygone centuries, they too live in an environment they share with a host of jinnis and other spirits. No one raises an eyebrow when the local football team hires a "fanditha man" to work hand in hand with the expensive coach hired from Rumania.

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Island Maulood

In the not too distant past, many islands used to have their own festivals called maulood. Different islands held their maulood at different times to commemorate different events....--Click the Heading for details--

Toddy Tapping

Toddy tapping used to be an important occupation in the Maldives, second only to fishing. Even a cursory glance at historical records and legends would reveal the central role of toddy tappers in earlier days....
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