Celebrating the Heroes of the Nation

Maldives Promotion House – An important day in the history of Maldives, today the National Day, is observed to celebrate the victory of Muhammad Thakurufaanu over the Portuguese in year 1573 AD. According to the Islamic calendar, the National Day of Maldives falls on the 1st of Rabee ul Awwal, the third month.

The story of Muhammad Thakurufaanu is a story of bravery and freedom from the colonial rule of ancient Portuguese. In 1558, the Portuguese attacked Maldivian Sultan and established their own rule.

Muhammad Thakurufaanu was the son of island chief Husain of Utheemu in Thiladhummathi Atoll and Lady Amina Dio of Ihavandhoo. After the invasion, it is reported that the Portuguese rule was harsh and cruel in a period which is describe as ‘‘a time when intolerable enormities were committed by the invading infidels, a time when the sea grew red with Maldivian blood, a time when people were sunk in despair.’’

To bring an end to this, Muhammad Thakurufaanu, left the Maldives with his brothers Ali and Hasan to Maliku off the coast of India in the Laccadive Archipelago. The three Utheemu brothers built the ship Kalhuoffummi, the sailing boat used in his endeavour to free the country of the occupation by the Portuguese.

The sails of the ship were made on the island of Maroshi, Shaviyani Atoll. This island is historic and still has the tree that grew from the raw wooden post of the tree used to make the sail of Kalhuoffummi. It is also the largest tree of its kind in the country, and probably the oldest as well.

The three brothers landed on a different island every night, fought the Portuguese, and set sail into the ocean before daybreak. They reached the capital island Malé on the night before the day fixed by the Portuguese garrison of Andiri Andiri for the forcible conversion of the inhabitants to Christianity, on the penalty of death for non-compliance.

The Utheemu brothers along with other Maldivians who were determined to die for their country and faith attacked the Portuguese garrison and gained independence for the country from its invaders. According to history, their leader was killed by a musket shot from Muhammad Thakurufaanu himself.

It is said that Mohamed Thakurufaanu received a lot of help from the renowned Maroshi Raaveribe (toddy tapper) in his fight for national independence. It was his job to mend and maintain the sail of the Kalhuoffummi every time it docked at Maroshi, which was an important port during the fight.

The Maldivians assigned Muhammad Thakurufaanu as their Sultan, no longer recognizing the sovereignty of the Portuguese kings or their appointed regents. The chronicles report him to have ruled wisely, being just and considerate, protecting the poor, and even solicitous for the people’s interests. He was the first Maldivian king to form the unified military body. Muhammed Thakurufaanu died a natural death on August 26th, 1585 AD.

Every year the first day of Rabi’ al-awwal is celebrated as the Maldives National Day or Gaumee Dhuvas in remembrance of Mohamed Thakurufaanu’s defeat of the Portuguese. We at Maldives Promotion House wish Maldivians and foreigners in Maldives alike, a very happy Maldives National Day. Have fun and enjoy.

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