The culture of Maldives is influenced by the proximity of the island nation to India and Sri Lanka. The state religion of the country, Islam, also dictates various cultural aspects of the people. Elements of African culture can also be observed in the Maldivian culture.
Cuisine Of Maldives
The cuisine of Maldives mostly involves fish as the main source of protein. Most meals include rice and fish. Fishing is the second biggest industry in the country. Meat other than pork is consumed on certain ceremonial occasions. Food for tourists is mostly imported. Vegetables are almost absent in the cuisine of Maldives as the country has little arable land to grow vegetables. Rice, sugar, and flour are some of the basic commodities that are imported to Maldives from other countries. The guduguda is an elongated pipe that is smoked by the elders. The raa is a local brew that is consumed widely.
Clothing Of Maldives
The traditional costume of the tropical island is nice and simple. For men, the traditional attire involves a sarong wrapped around the waist as a lower garment and a cotton shirt which is more often white in color. Libaas are traditional costumes worn by women and appear like a long dress with gold and silver colored threads adorning the dress.
Music And Dance
Music and dancing is an integral part of the culture of Maldives and is heavily influenced by North Indian music and dance. Bollywood films, films of the Indian film industry based in Mumbai, are extremely popular among the people of the Maldives. The language of the country being related to the northern Indian languages makes this affinity for Indian music and dance quite natural. Songs of Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Asha Bhonsle, all notable Indian singers, are enjoyed by the people in the island nation. The North Indian kathak dance and Bollywood dance moves also shape the dance forms in Maldives. The bulbul tarang is a popular musical instrument played in the island nation.
Literature, Arts, And Craft
Maldivian literature has a distinct folk aspect associated with it. Folk tales in the country have been passed from one generation to the next by word of mouth and many have been penned down to the written form. Folk tales of Maldives feature various aspects like magicians, plants and animals of the island, good and evil spirits, royals who ruled the region, and origin of life on the islands, etc. A significant volume of religious literature is also treasured in the country. One of the famous religious works produced here is the “Siyarathunnabaviyyaa” by the writer Husain Salaahuddheen.
The island life of the Maldives also influences many art and craft forms in the nation. Woodcarving and lacquer work of Maldives is famous for its intricate designs and bright colors. Mats woven from dyed reeds are created by the women of the country and used as prayer mats or sold as souvenirs. Traditional boats called “dhonis" are built of coconut wood and their sturdy and stylish appearance exhibit the excellent craftsmanship skills of the Maldivian boat-builders.
Social Beliefs And Customs In Maldives
The Maldivian society pays great respect to the elders and promotes strong bondage with immediate and extended family members. However, most families on the island are nuclear in nature. Women also enjoy a respectable role in the society. Inheritance laws apply equally to both males and females. Women maintain their maiden names after marriage. The members of society are expected to adhere to the Islamic code of conduct. 18 is the legal age of marriage in Maldives but marriage at a younger age is usually the norm. Although males are allowed to marry four wives, polygamy is rare. Pre-marital sex is not allowed and punishable. Divorce rates in the country are high. Prostitution is illegal in the country and homosexuality has been criminalized.
Religions And Festivals Of Maldives
The freedom of religion is severely restricted in Maldives. Islam is the nation’s state religion and is the only religion allowed to be practiced by the Maldivians. Non-Muslims are not allowed to vote, hold public positions or be the citizens of the country. The President of the country must be a Sunni Muslim. Foreigners are not allowed to worship publicly in the country if they are adherents of any other religion.
Islam being the state religion of the Maldives, Islamic festivals are the only religious festivals celebrated here. The people of the island celebrate the end of the month of Ramadan with great festivities. The Prophet’s Birthday is another Islamic festival observed in the nation and involves visits to the mosques for prayers. The National Day, held on the first day of the lunar calendar’s third month, is celebrated with parades and marches held across the country. Republic Day is held on November 11 and celebrates the foundation of the Republic of Maldives.
Sports In Maldives
Football is the most popular sports in Maldives. The locals adore the game and young boys and men can often be observed playing football in their locality. Tennis, basketball, baseball, badminton are also some of the other sports played in the country. The presence of beautiful and expansive beaches means that the country is a hub for many types of aquatic sports and beach activities. Jet skiing, windsurfing, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, diving, swimming, parasailing, and beach volleyball are some of the sports activities which attract a large number of tourists to the country from across the world. Adventure activities like bungee jumping, gliding, rock-climbing, etc., are also popular in the country.