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MATI, Gadheemee Collection begin traditional stone carving course

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Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) and Gadheemee Collection has kicked off a course on traditional stone carving.

Conducted in association with the tourism ministry and arts and culture ministry, the first-of-its-kind “Traditional Stone Carving Course” runs for two months starting June 20. Ten applicants were selected, to be trained under the sponsorship of MATI.

The course began with a special function held at the national museum in capital Male on June 22. Arts and culture minister Yumna Maumoon, tourism minister Ali Waheed, and MATI Secretary General Ahmed Nazeer attended the ceremony and spoke at the event.

Other attendees include Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) Managing Director Thoyyib Mohamed as well as senior officials from tourism ministry, arts and culture ministry, MMPRC, and MATI. Gadheemee Collection’s founder Mohamed Imran Ahmed, who is leading the training, was also present at the function.

During the function, officials from the arts and culture ministry gave a presentation on traditional stone carving as well as a tour of the museum.

“The preservation and promotion of Maldivian culture is a key area of focus for MATI. Furthermore, traditional stone carving was picked specifically as research suggested that this is a dying art with very few traditional stone masons/carvers operating in Maldives,” a statement issued by MATI read.

“MATI also believes that the Tourism Industry is a viable platform that can assist in the revival and promotion traditional arts and crafts by providing artisans and craftsmen a platform to showcase their products and services and earn a living out of practicing traditional arts and crafts.”

As a non-profit established since the introduction of tourism in Maldives, MATI has been at the forefront of almost all travel and tourism related activities and issues in the Maldives for the past three decades. The association coordinates with government and liaise with organisations locally and internationally to solidify member services and operations in the tourism sector.

Founded in 2010, Gadheemee Collection aims to reintroduce the almost lost traditional art form of stone carving, which is embedded in the history of Maldivian arts and crafts, by recreating the ancient lime stone carvings made by our ancestors.

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JA Manafaru celebrates Maldives Independence Day with cultural week

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The stunning all-natural resort paradise, JA Manafaru, invites guests to immerse themselves in the rich culture of the Maldives during their Maldivian Cultural Week.

Located in Haa Alifu Atoll, they are proud to be “the Real Maldives and are promoting this by holding this weeklong event, held from July 22nd to July 26th, 2024.

This exciting week coincides with Maldives’ Independence Day and offers a unique opportunity to experience the island nation’s vibrant traditions and customs.

The festivities begin on July 22nd with a captivating tour of the resort’s cultural exhibit, Magey Hiyaa.

Excitement builds on July 23rd as the celebration continues with an unforgettable Maldivian night, where guests savour a traditional feast called served “Malaafaiy” style at Kakuni restaurant, followed by a mesmerising Boduberu performance.

On July 25th, a captivating Maldivian Cooking Class led by the talented Executive Chef, Chef Moosa Nazeeh, takes place at Kakuni. Guests can learn the secrets behind the country’s most beloved dishes.

The week culminates on July 26th, Maldives Independence Day, with a traditional flag-raising ceremony on the beach. Guests can join the national pride as the Maldivian National Anthem fills the air.

The celebrations conclude with a delightful Maldivian-themed afternoon tea featuring local delicacies served at the Veli Bar. As guests savour the flavours, they are enthralled by the rhythmic beats of another Boduberu performance.

“Maldivian Cultural Week is a fantastic opportunity for our guests to discover the heart and soul of the Maldives,” says Jason Kruse, General Manager at JA Manafaru. “We are thrilled to offer this immersive experience that allows guests to connect with the rich culture and traditions of our beautiful island nation.”

Experience the magic of the Maldives and immerse yourself in its culture at JA Manafaru during Maldivian Cultural Week. For reservations or inquiries, please contact reservations.manafaru@jaresorts.com or via WhatsApp +960 766 0170.

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Anantara Kihavah launches initiative to bring Maldivian culture to life for guests

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Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas has announced the launch of “Journey Through Maldivian Heritage,” an immersive cultural experience that aims to introduce the luxury resort’s guests to a variety of local customs and artisanal activities designed to celebrate the heritage and traditions of the Maldives.

Available every Thursday, this all-day initiative offers guests the opportunity to immerse themselves fully in local heritage by making a genuine connection to the Maldivian people and their culture. From the moment guests wake up, they are treated to a wide selection of authentic Maldivian specialities at breakfast. Then as they stroll around the island, guests will see the team proudly dressed in traditional Maldivian attire. With guidance from the resort’s dedicated team and local artisans, guests will experience traditional corals, local cuisine, and cultural activities throughout the day.

Suitable for guests of all ages, the many engaging artisanal activities on offer include a Palm Leaf Weaving Workshop, where guests can learn traditional weaving techniques and create their own beautiful palm leaf corals such as ornaments, baskets, hats, and more. For those seeking a musical experience, the Bodu Beru Drum Class offers guests an opportunity to immerse themselves in the rhythm and movement of traditional Maldivian drumming and dance. Culinary explorers can participate in a hands-on Maldivian Cooking Class with a local master chef as he reveals the secrets of Maldivian cuisine.

As part of the fully immersive adventure, the Local Island Visit encourages guests to explore a nearby island and experience the local way of life up close. The Traditional Maldivian Sunset Fishing activity provides guests with an opportunity to try their hand at fishing using traditional methods against the backdrop of a stunning sunset. The Fishing Net Making Class, led by local experts, teaches the skill of making fishing nets that has been handed down across multiple generations. For the more active fun seekers, there is an unmissable opportunity to join in a Bashi Game, a traditional Maldivian sport which is similar to volleyball.

As the sun sets, the team and guests will gather for the mesmerising Bodu Beru Sundowner Ritual. Celebrating the end of the day, the ceremony begins with the lighting of torches before the rhythmic beats of a Maldivian bodu beru performance by the team combine to create an enchanting and unforgettable experience.

Anantara Kihavah is committed to offering guests an authentic and immersive experience that captures the heart and soul of the Maldives. Through these cultural activities, the resort aims to create lasting memories and a deeper appreciation for Maldivian heritage.

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Palace for the prince: Muleeage’s century-long journey through history

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It was ‘honeymoon season’ in Suez. Sultan Haji Imadudeen was reigning on a throne of love in Egypt. But back home, those were darker times, as Maldives continued to borrow from Bohra merchants of Mumbai. After all, the wedding expenses of the monarch had to be paid by the state.

Imadudeen has appointed his younger brother, Dhoshee Manippulhu of Maandhooge, as the regent to take care of the state’s affairs, but it was Prince Ibrahim Dhoshimeynakilegefaan of Athireege who ruled. Prince Ibrahim’s son, Abdul Majeed Didi of Athireege, took charge of stabilising the nation.

Backed by the British masters and business elites in Male’, Abdul Majeed Didi began hatching a secret plan. Finally, by the early hours of March 10, 1910, onlookers could understand that something was happening in Muleege. Beeru Mohamed Fulhu, who was at the Friday Mosque, saw the door being opened and Mohamed Shamsudeen being escorted out by his brother-in-law Abdul Majeed Didi and Sayyid Kilegefaanu, also known as Khatheeb Seedhi. The two men accompanied Shamshudeen to Boduganduvaru, the royal palace, and placed him on the throne as Sultan Shamsudeen Iskandhar, Al-Salitc. As Shamsudeen was the brother-in-law of both men, the aim behind the plan could mean more than just stabilising the nation; there might have been personal motives and interests.

After appointing Shamsudeen the sultan, Khatheeb Seedhi told him that no one was ever going to challenge his reign. He said that Shamshudeen was not going to leave the throne unless he wished to do so.

Khatheeb Sidi’s saying became true, as Shamsudeen remained in power for the next 31 years, six months and 28 days. That was until he left behind all the privileges of a king for the sake of his beloved son Hassan Izzuddeen, for whom he built Henveyru Ganduvaru or Muleeage from where he started his journey to become the sultan at one midnight. As the famous public speaker and poet Ibrahim Shihab later said, the sultan abdicated for the only son he ever had.

Muleeage, the presidential palace which is now 105 years old, was originally built for Shamsudeen’s son and the then Crown Prince Hassan Izzudeen. The palace was originally named as Henveyru Ganduvaru. It was a symbol of the king’s love for his son.

The origin of this address goes back to the era of the heroic Sultan Hassan Izzudeen, also known as Dhonbandaarain. This plot of land was first used to build a thatch hut when Muhammad Manik of Mulee shifted his family to the capital city. The house was later inherited by Dhonbandaarain and then by Ibrahim Noorahdeen and then by his son Shamsudeen. Hassan Izzudeen was born to Shamsudeen and Sithi Didi, daughter of Bodu Sidi of Kalhuhurage.

When Izzudeen was studying in Ceylon, Shamsudeen decided to build the house before his son returned home. Shamsudeen decided to build it as a palace for the crown prince.

Fully funded by state coffers, the project was commissioned in 1914. Ahmed Dhoshimeyna Kiligefaanu of Athireege was assigned as the project manager. Architects and builders were brought from Ceylon. Architecture and the design was that of the Victorian era with a touch of colonial architectural design. Furniture too was imported from Ceylon. Few transoms were designed by Easa Mohamed Fulhu from the island of Kela in Haa Alif Atoll.

The palace was opened on December 7, 1919, with a special Mauloodh, a cultural prayer.

Izzudeen came back from Ceylon after his education to live in the palace as “Henveyru Ganduvaru Manippulhu”. He lived with privileges that don’t match with that of any other prince. As he was a highly-skilled musician, the palace became a theatre for music. Izzudeen sang with his beautiful voice whilst also playing harmonium. Boys of his dance group, widely known as “Nashaa Party” danced to his music, dressed as ladies. Boduberu too was part of the fun at the palace. It was full on partying till midnight on most days. It is said that the novel, Dhonthuhkalaage Gellunu Furaavaru (lost teenage of Dhonthuhkala), written by Muhammad Ismail Didi of Meerubahuruge, was based on an incident that happened at the palace.

The elite of Athireege took all that as inappropriate for a crown prince. Their disapproval grew and Izzudeen was considered as someone who is ineligible for the throne. The first written constitution in the history of Maldives was passed as a result. It was written in that constitution that the sultanate will only go to a grandson of Dhonbandarain, effectively removing Izzudeen from the royal inheritance path.

But the constitution was later received by the people as a burden, as new laws were introduced to a population that was not aware of such rules. It made their life miserable.

“We can’t bear this anymore,” they said, as they gathered at the Gulhakulhey Fasgandu, an open area just next to the headquarters of the army, and tore apart the document. They even attempted to bring out some ministers to be dealt with by the mob.

The country then saw increased hostile actions against the government from Izzudeen who tried to take over.

Prime Minister Hassan Fareed issued orders to arrest Izzudeen’s allies. Izzudeen went to Bodubandeyrige, then headquarters of security forces, in person to try save his allies. Shamsudeen left the throne to follow.

The prime minister, who was paving way for the change in government, used this as an opportunity to overthrow Shamsudeen. The latter was banished to Fuvahmulah, in the far south, together with his son Izzudeen.

Izzudeen died on the island after a short ailment, whilst Shamsudeen was brought back to Male’ as his health deteriorated. He died shortly thereafter. Henveyru Ganduvaru was deserted after that.

All the palaces except that of the sultan were later downgraded and Henveyru Ganduvaru became Muleeage, taking the name of the first house built at the address.

Muleeage was used for several purposes for the next 80 years before becoming the presidential palace in 1953. From 1942 to 1947, it was used to house the ministries of home affairs and defence, and the office of the head of intelligence. It also served as the headquarters of the first newspaper in the country, Sarukaaruge Khabaru.

With the first republic that came into being in 1953, Muleeage became the presidential palace, serving as the official residence of Mohamed Ameen Didi, the first president.

As the monarchy was reinstated after overthrowing Ameen and abolishing the republic in a coup, Muleeage became the office of the prime minister. Ibrahim Famuladeyrikiligefaan and Ibrahim Nasir were prime ministers who used the office. At one point during their administrations, Muleeage also housed the ministry of defence.

Presidential palace and several ministries at some point, Muleeage has been in use ever since.

Apart from this, several high profile guests of the state stayed there during their visits. Late Queen Elizabeth and her late husband, The Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philips were amongst those.

Although Ibrahim Nasir, as the first president of the second republic, declared Muleeage as the presidential palace again in 1970, he didn’t use it as such. His successor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was the first president to formally use it as his official residence. He stayed there from 1988 to 1994, before moving to Theemuge, a newly built presidential palace which later became the Supreme Court.

The first Supreme Court, which was the result of the present day constitution, was temporarily housed in Muleeage in 2008. Then came President Mohamed Nasheed who chose to make it the presidential palace yet again. It was also used as the offices of a national inquiry commission, which was setup to investigate the events surrounding Nasheed’s early departure in 2012, before becoming the presidential palace again.

In the century that has passed since Muleeage was built in its current design, it has witnessed numerous historical events in the country. It witnessed the declaration of the first republic and the reinstating of the monarchy. It hosted heads of states as well as ministers from different parts of the world. Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandi was one amongst them to be remembered.

Been a place for all that, the status of Muleeage is much more important in our history; it was the childhood home of Hassan Izzudeen, Dhonbandaarain, the heroic sultan who freed Maldives from the short-lived rule of the Malabari invaders, also known as “Holhin”. This was the place from where he came out for his battle with the flag of freedom flying over his head.

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