Customs and traditions
Since tourists are mainly referred to specific hotel islands, the chances of foreigners meeting maldives in the home environment are limited. Should it still happen, you will go a long way in acting as a guest respectfully and showing kind appreciation; you do not have to worry about any complicated label.
However, the visitor should remember not to sit down anywhere until a place has been assigned and one should wait until the village head or the male head of the house has sat down. Eating is done with the right hand, since the left is considered unclean.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Maldives, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Also, one should not appear too undressed off the beaches. Women should cover shoulders and wear skirts or trousers that reach at least to their knees. Anyone who wants to go into a mosque covers arms and legs.
Food and drinks
Fish form the basis of Maldivian cuisine, for obvious reasons. Rice is also basic food although it is imported. Meat is only eaten occasionally and pork is not present at all because the Maldives is a Muslim country. Alcohol is for the same reason only in the tourist islands. The intake of vegetables is limited because it is not possible to grow very much on the atolls. The food is often spicy and reminiscent of its proximity to India.
A common feature of the food is tuna which is cooked, smoked and then dried to hard pieces. The preservation method was important in the past, when modern ways of storing food were lacking. The dried fish is often finely divided or ground and used as a flavoring, protein supplement or thickening agent in cooking. “Maldivian fish” is a concept also in Sri Lanka that imports large quantities of the product.
Raa is a drink made from liquid dropped from coconut trees. It tastes sweet but smells slightly fresh. If raw is not consumed at one go, it ferments a bit – and thus, the maldives may after all taste a weak alcoholic beverage occasionally.
Traditions and holidays
As a good Muslim, a Maldivian must follow the five pillars of Islam: read the creed, pray five times a day, give alms to the poor, observe the fasting month of Ramadan and, if possible, pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime.
According to Countryaah, the religious holidays are based on the Muslim lunar calendar, which means that they fall on different dates from year to year. One of the most important holidays is the fasting month of Ramadan (locally called rorda mas) when one should refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex between dawn and dusk. The Ramadan ends with kuda id (elsewhere best known as id al-fitr), a three-day weekend when you celebrate with a lot of food. Prophet Muhammad’s birthday is also celebrated, as is the sacrificial feast of id al-adha.
According to Abbreviationfinder, the Maldives National Day, in memory of when Mohammed Thakurufar al-Azam expelled the Portuguese in 1573 (see Ancient History), also moves with the lunar calendar. Independence Day, July 26, is celebrated in memory of when the Maldives ceased to be British Protectorate in 1965. On Victory Day, November 3, the victory over a group of mercenaries from Sri Lanka in 1988 is celebrated, while Republic Day on November 11 marks the transition to Republic of 1968. At all festivities, usually with parades, dances and performances.