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Maldive Islands


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.     

Maulood was actually Arabic poetry praising Prophet Mohammed and his companions. At a large tent prepared for the purpose, professional readers would recite Maulood with melody.

There used to be a lot of preparation for the event. Whole populations of a few nearby islands would come to join the fun. The islanders would make arrangements for their welcome, accommodation and food. They would also prepare and decorate the venue. 

Girls welcoming guests

Welcoming the guests from other islands was a special part of the ceremony.  Here, young girls proceed in traditional costume towards the beach.

Catering for the maulood tent was the central part of the celebrations. The highlight would be the opening ceremony, at which all the males of the island and the visitors would be invited. Each house in the island would prepare a "keym" for the event. A keym was packed in a large wooden container called a "malaafay", and contained rice, curries, short-eats and sweets. It was then closed and tied with a decorated sheet of cloth resembling a huge scarf.

At the maulood tent, groups of 5 to 6 people would sit on the ground cross-legged around a keym. Hosts from the house who brought the keym would be there to help. They would first bring a pot of water to wash the guest’s hands. The keym would then be opened. The guests would serve the food onto their own plates. 

When the feast was over the maulood started. Most of the guests would then leave the hall, leaving the readers behind. The Maulood would continue for a day or two depending on the particular island and its customs. At each mealtime fresh keyms would be brought. But this time it would be only for the maulood reciters and their helpers. So just a few rich houses would send the keyms by turn.

Typical road scene on a Maulood day

In the typical island crowds like this were only seen on special occasions like the Maulood  

While all this was going on a lot of merriment and fun was happening in the island. With all the guests there were lots of people on the streets. Everybody is in his or her best clothes and in a merry mood. Some games like the traditional 'Bashi' are also organized.

For the youngsters it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to introduce themselves to girls and boys visiting from other islands.