Celebrations In Maldives
Festivals All Year Round
Sun, sea, sand and Maldives' festivals? Ok you might not be heading to the Indian Ocean just for the festivals that are part of the Maldives culture, but some of the festivals provide entertainment in the Maldives, as well as some of the tourist attractions in the Maldives… “So what and when are they?” I hear you ask… well…
Maldives' festivals tend to be ruled by the lunar calendar. Maldives' holidays are a mix of the secular and the religious; with the lunar calendar tending to influence the religious celebrations. A blend of contemporary and traditional themes is clearly seen during Maldives festivals.
Haj and Bodu Eid in January
In January, possibly the most poignant of the Maldives' festivals takes place. It’s the annual Haj pilgrimage during which, many Maldivians travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It’s the largest annual pilgrimage in the world and the fifth pillar of Islam: An obligation that must be carried out at least once in the lifetime of every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. It’s a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people and of course a commitment to their belief.
The three days that follow the pilgrimage are national holidays in the Maldives. Communities throughout the Maldives celebrate with families and friends by sharing food and playing games.
National Day in March
The festival that Maldivians call National Day commemorates the victory of Mohammed Thakurufaanu over the occupying Portuguese forces in 1573. This Maldives' festival is an opportunity for tourists to see the colours of Maldives culture on display.
Independence Day in July
July 26th on Malé is the biggest national event in the Maldives festivals' calendar. It marks the Maldives Islands’ independence from the British in 1965.
Everyone turns out, from the Maldives people to the President to take part in marches and dances. Like many of the Maldives festivals, this one is community orientated, full of performances with schools putting on shows and displays.
Ramadan in September
All Maldivian Muslims follow this thirty day fast of Ramadan that dominates the month of September (although sometimes dates can vary). If you find yourself in Malé during Ramadan you’ll probably find that the restaurants are closed, so bear this in mind if you're thinking of booking your Malé tour during Ramadan.
Kuda Eid in October
Ramadan ends with the beginning of a new moon. A cannon is ceremoniously sounded to mark the end of the fasting and also the beginning of Kuda Eid, a Maldives' festival celebration beginning with prayers. Food is central after the fast and lunch is a family and friends occasion with an open door policy. It is a joyous and generous time for the Madivians with offerings and donations made to local charities.
In the afternoon the celebrations take to the streets with bands and marches. On the islands the celebrations tend to centre around sports games and live music within the communities. Charley and I have spent a lively afternoon watching a school volleyball competition with an energetic crowd during Kuda Eid on the north Malé atoll.
World Food Day
World Food Day was created by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. In Malé there’s an official reception attended by the Maldivian President and a food fair that unites producers, suppliers and consumers to promote local produce and traditional food items, such as millet and mangroves.
Of all the festivals in the Maldives, this one has the strongest contemporary feel with current world issues. It’s a chance for the Maldivian people to show their environmental credentials and how they’re working with other nations.
On 11 November 1968, the Sultanate was abolished and the Maldives became a republic for the second time. This Maldivian festival evokes a real sense of family as everyone shares in the preparation of food and entertainment.
This Maldives’ festival on the 10th of December commemorates the importance of fishing to the people and the country of the Maldives. Make sure you check out the Malé fish market on one of your island shopping trips. Fishing is crucial to the economy of the Maldives. Much of the line caught tuna we get in Europe comes from the Maldives. It’s worth finding a friendly Maldivian fisherman and going out for a spot of line fishing with them, besides they’ll be able to read the weather better than most!
You see? There's more to this holiday destination than just the powdery white sands and stunning house reefs - It's a country with a rich culture and an enchanting community tapestry. Enjoy your Maldives vacation!
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