Exploring the Local Culture and Traditions of the Maldives
25 Feb 23
Maldives, the beautiful slice of paradise in the Indian Ocean, is a fascinating destination steeped in a rich history and traditions. Located in the heart of the spice trade route, the small island country was a melting pot for travellers from various countries. Shaped and formed with the influence of many neighbouring countries — like Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, North Africa, and the countries in the Arabian Peninsula — the Maldives presents an amalgamation of cultures from around the world.
Though the travellers passing through the archipelago left their mark on the country, the isles of Maldives have their own unique identity. Having a strong faith in Islam, dedicated and highly spiritual, they are friendly and welcoming of all nationalities. To truly enjoy any destination, one must explore its deepest roots. At Nova, we will take you on a journey to discover the captivating local life of the island nation.
1. The Soulful Maldivian Lifestyle
Though the country is home to just over half a million people, the Maldivian culture is still rich, colourful and intriguing. One of the first sounds you hear aside from the rhythms of the waves is the Maldivian language, Dhivehi. With a mix of Indo-Iranian Sanskritic and Arabic, the unique language even has its very own script; Thaana, which was developed from Arabic numerals with the alphabets written from right to left. At Nova’s ‘Holhuashi underneath the Banyan Tree’, you can learn bits and pieces of the language first-hand, as the stories introduce you to the eccentric culture of the country.
As you travel to the islands of Maldives, you will discover that the community has a pretty simple lifestyle outside the city. Surrounded by the abundant coconut palms and endless blue seas, the livelihood of Maldivians is close knitted to the breathtaking nature. Whether you look at the Maldivan cuisine, pastime activities or even the country’s economy, it’s all linked to the sea and marine life. Fishing remains one of the oldest industries in the country and is also a pastime activity enjoyed by many. At Nova, you can tune out the world as we take you on an authentic journey, scouting the blue sees teeming with life in true Maldivian fashion.
2. The Magical Rhythms
The natural tunes of the country carried across oceans by waves and the breezy winds are the first thing to welcome you as you step on the shoreline. But the magical rhythms of the islands do not stop there. Music and dance are integral to the Maldivian culture and heritage, and are perceived as a form of celebration and entertainment.
One aspect where you can clearly see the intermingling of cultures in Maldives is the sound of Maldivian music. The influence of different countries, especially South and East African rhythms, is prominent in the ‘Bodu Beru’ ensembles. From the soulful beating, to the famous dance moves accompanying the melodies, each aspect of the performance brings an aura of joy. This traditional dance is performed in large groups of 10 to 15 men, all wearing traditional sarongs, while telling stories with their dance movements and song lyrics. The weekly ‘Holhuashi underneath the Banyan Tree’ at Nova is not only the perfect gateway to the Maldivian lifestyle, but also to our traditional music as well; where you can engross yourself in the beats as your soulmates tell you an unforgettable story.
3. The Flavourful Dhivehi Cuisine
Much like every other aspect of our culture, the country’s cuisine is also a fusion of multicultural flavours. Rich and diverse in its infusions, the tastes often carry a mix of mild spiciness and a delicate sweetness. Dhivehi cuisine nourishes one’s soul with various fresh seafood and tropical fruits, all presenting their unique culinary identity. Whether it is fish, coconuts, millet, tubers or breadfruits, the flavours from the Middle East, India, Sri Lanka and East Asia are peppered throughout the dishes.
While tuna makes up about 90% of the local cuisine, at your soul place, you can delve into a world of authentic Maldivian flavours, starting with the classic ‘Mashuni’ at breakfast. This succulent seafood dish, a mixture of grated smoked tuna and coconut, is served with roshi, a typical local flatbread, and is the perfect combination of savours to wake you up in the morning.
4. Local Crafts and Traditional Art
Lacquer art, locally known as ‘Liyelaa Jehun’, is an important craft that has been part of our history for centuries. This traditional artwork involves applying a coating of natural lacquer onto wooden objects, creating patterns and designs for bowls, plates, vases and many household objects. It is an art form passed down from generation to generation within families and is highly prized for its beauty and durability.
Another traditional craft practised in the Maldives is wood carving. This involves carving intricate designs and patterns into wood using chisels and other tools. The wood of the coconut palm is commonly used for carving, due to its durability and abundance in the Maldives. The carvings often feature intricate geometric designs, floral motifs, and depictions of marine life, reflecting the country’s geography and traditional way of life. Aside from discovering the local customs with them, these artworks can also be part of the story you take back. With our local artisans often travelling to Nova with their handicrafts, you can purchase art pieces and take a token of Maldivian culture home.
Take your soul on a cultural journey with an itinerary crafted just for you, and explore the fascinating stories of the paradisiac land in the Indian Ocean. Book your good soul days now and email us at [email protected] or talk to us via +960 66 88 777.