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Local livelihood, games, activities in Maldives

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The culture of Maldives is an amalgamation of various other cultures. Some of the traditional practices constitute elements of other origins but are unique in their own special ways.

As we are currently going through a challenging time, it is vital for families to come together and engage in thought-provoking and interesting games and activities to keep the worries at bay.

Today, we will take a look at some traditional Maldivian games and activities everyone can be a part of.

Gan’du Fillaa

Gan’du Fillaa is an easy and simple game that several generations of people have enjoyed. It is often played indoors and requires readily available items in the house. The rules, customs and the sing-sung words announced by the guesser have barely changed over the last few years.The objective: Guess who is hiding inside the “gan’du”

Equipment: Bed, a big blanket, pillows and any other items

Number of players: Three+

How to play: One person steps out and away from the main playing area, often a bedroom. That would be called the “guesser.” When he steps out, the remaining players decide who should hide inside the blanket, which is called the “gan’du.” The others assist in putting pillows and any other items around and on top of the person laying down, before covering him with the blanket. Once it is done, the remaining players hide in various parts of the room. Usually, the players hide inside the bathroom or closet if the room does not have any other hiding spots. Anyone can call upon the guesser to come back. The guesser comes back and sings “gan’du heley heley heley” and when he does, the person inside has to shake but he cannot utter a single word. Then, the guesser guesses who the individual is. If he gets it correct, he gets to join the team and the person inside the gan’du becomes the new guesser. If he gets it wrong, he has to go back and a new round starts again.

Thin Hama

Thin Hama is a strategic board game. Traditionally, the grid would be drawn on a wooden square and players would use “boli” (shells) and “madhoshi” (a red seed) from “madhoshi gas” (Adenanthera Pavonina) commonly found in the Maldives. It is a game that has existed for several generations, with our forefathers having stories of their forefathers teaching them this thought-provoking game.

Objective: To make three in a row in order to get the opponents pieces

Equipment: A grid, nine pieces of any two items (buttons, shells, seeds, pebbles, two different coloured paper cut into circles, etc)

Number of players: Two

Preparation: Get a piece of paper and draw the grid. There are three squares – the outer, middle, and the inner square. Connect them with a line from each corner and from the middle of each side.

How to play: Each player gets a turn to place their items on the grid one-by-one until all 18 pieces are on the board. These pieces can be placed anywhere the lines intersect, but not three in a row until all pieces are on the grid. Once the pieces have been placed, take turns to move the items vertically and horizontally, but not diagonally along the grid. You can only move the pieces to an empty intersection. Once the player gets three in a row, they can remove any one piece from the opponent and continue, letting the opponent start off. The player wins when the opponent has only two pieces left on the board.

Dance steps for Bodu Beru

Bodu Beru literally translated to big drums in Dhivehi – “Bodu” for big and “Beru” for drums. Bodu Beru songs are usually performed by five-seven individuals with drummers and singers who provide backing vocals accompanied by various other instruments and the main singer. However, the most noticeable part of Bodu Beru performances would be the dancers who display distinct steps for different songs; there are no strict rules followed but a basic pattern exists for all types of songs.

The feet move to the beat of the drums. Every beat is a step forward, to the side or the back. These steps can be used to turn, walk or even move around.

The hands accompany the feet – swaying and moving to the beat of the drums. It can be moved to the voice of the singer as well.

The rest of the body can be utilised to accompany the other parts. You can move your hips, lean down, and twist and turn to support your flow.

Dancing to Bodu Beru would be completely letting go of yourself and surrendering to the beat. All Bodu Beru songs start slow, but gradually increase and end with a very fast drumming session where the performers and viewers can dance in any way they want. The beauty of this is that there is no right or wrong way to do it – the main purpose of Bodu Beru is to let go, enjoy and have loads of fun.

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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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Bandos Maldives offers exclusive Eid Al-Adha offers, celebrations

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This Eid Al-Adha, Bandos Maldives invites guests to create unforgettable family memories in a stunning tropical paradise.

Enjoy an exclusive offer with benefits including free stay and meals for up to two children, a free sunset dolphin cruise, and complimentary use of Clubhouse facilities, snorkeling gear, a glass-bottom boat experience, and non-motorised water sports. Additional perks include complimentary laundry services, early check-in and late checkout, and a 20% discount on spa treatments and food & beverages.

Celebrate Eid with a delightful breakfast spread featuring local and international cuisines, participate in thrilling aqua races, and enjoy an enchanting performance of Dhafi Negun accompanied by Maali & Bodumas. Indulge in a special buffet dinner showcasing local culinary delights and experience the vibrant culture of the Maldives with rhythmic drumming and cultural dances.

Join the team at Bandos Maldives for a memorable Eid Al-Adha celebration. Book now to enjoy these exclusive benefits and make the most of your holiday.

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