Insights Into the History and Culture of the Maldives

While the Maldives is a famed tourist destination, travellers can forget that this Indian Ocean nation also has a rich history and culture. Here is more on what you need to know about its heritage and traditions which are an integral part of local life.

Early Beginnings

The Maldives is believed to have been inhabited as far back as the 5th century BCE by people from Sri Lanka and India, two neighbouring countries. Buddhism found its way here and became the dominant religion and some ancient Buddhist ruins of this bygone era can be seen to his day at places like Kaashidhoo Island. With the arrival of visitors and traders from other parts of the world, the Maldives became more multicultural as well.

Conversion to Islam

Fast forward to the 12th century when Arab traders introduced Islam to the Maldives. The pivotal moment arrived when the Buddhist king of the Maldives embraced Islam, leading the entire nation to embrace this faith as well. Today, it is a fully Muslim nation, with its laws intertwined with Islamic principles; this includes aspects like wearing conservative attire in public along with restrictions on alcohol and pork. However, there is an exception to such laws in the Maldives; five star hotels on private islands are not subject to them so guests can wear swimsuits and enjoy their favourite cocktails at such properties.

Photo by Adventour Maldives pexels

Traditional Livelihoods

Before tourism, fishing was the heartbeat of the Maldivian economy, and this traditional livelihood is still practised. To gain more insights, those staying at a private resort like Adaaran Prestige Vadoo can plan a visit to the Male Fish Market as well as try their hand at traditional sunset fishing. There are other livelihoods here as well and Maldivians are skilled artisans in lacquer work, wood carving, and mat weaving. You can look to buy such items on your holiday which make for unique mementoes.

Traditional Music

Boduberu, or the “Big Drum,” is an ancient musical form that can be traced back to the 11th century when it was brought to the country by sailors. This lively musical tradition has influences from East Africa and apart from the signature beats and rhythms, also features singing and dancing. Other traditional forms of music in the Maldives are Langiri and Thaara, each performed with a small drum. Witnessing one of these performances is to embark on a musical journey that transcends language and connects you to the soul of the islands.