While the Maldives is famed for being a tropical paradise, it goes beyond the postcard-perfect beaches and features a rich heritage and culture worth experiencing. Here is more on what you need to know.
While the Maldives was initially a Buddhist country, following the conversion of the king to Islam in the 12th century, the people adopted this religion as well. The country follows Sunni Islam and the nation’s laws are linked to religious beliefs and practises as well. Thus, conservative attire covering bare shoulders and legs is required on local islands, while one cannot sell or consume alcohol on such islands either. Interestingly, such laws do not apply to those staying at private island resorts.
While you do get modern development in the country, you will still find islands where one can witness village life in the Maldives. Hotel deals can be found at private island resorts like Embudu Village which offer guided visits to such villages where you can soak up some local culture and observe traditional livelihoods. You can also engage in conversations, sample traditional cuisine, and witness the close-knit community spirit that defines island life.
When it comes to traditional livelihoods that have sustained island communities for generations, pride of place is given to fishing which is not just a profession, but a way of life. For a truly immersive cultural experience, some resorts will give guests a chance to try traditional fishing using the hook-and-line technique. Skilled craftspeople in the country are also engaged in wood carvings and delicate lacquer work, with the skills of these livelihoods being passed down through the ages.
Maldivian music, particularly Boduberu, is a vibrant expression of the nation’s cultural identity. This form of traditional music has its roots in African music brought over by traders and sailors to the country. Boduberu which translates to “big drum” features the use of drums as well as songs that tell tales of love, heroes and more. The beat of the drums may begin at a slow pace, but the tempo is steadily increased, while lively dancing is also part of the performance creating a stunning spectacle.