music and dance are not performed every day, a contemporary Divehi
culture does exist, which is strong and adaptive, in spite of foreign
influences, which vary from Hindi films and asian martial arts to
Michael Jackson and Muslim fundamentalism.
Western fashions, videos and pop music are evident in Male, but
on public events, like the beginning and end of Ramadan, the celebrations
regularly maintain a distinct Maldivian flavour. There are 3 daily
newspapers and several magazines published in the unique national
language. Rock bands that bellow out Divehi lyrics, and multi-story
buildings that echo the architecture of Maldivian island houses.
A bodu beru means a big drum, and lends its name to the best-known
form of traditional dance and music. It's what tourist resorts present
for a local culture night, and it can be quite compelling and very
sophisticated. Dancers start with a slow, nonchalant swinging and
swaying of the arms, and become more animated as the tempo rises,
ending in a rhythmic frenzy. There are between 4 and 6 drummers
in a group, and the sound is African influenced.
Modern local rock bands usually perform at resorts doing reliable
covers of all the old favourites. Performing for a local audience
they may blend elements of bodu beru in their music, with heavy
use of percussion and extended drum solos. Cassettes from local
bands are available for purchase in Male music shops.
Islam is the national religion and all Maldivians are Sunni Muslims.
No other religions are allowed, though ancient beliefs survive:
for example, islanders fear jinnis - evil spirits from the
sea, land and sky. These are criticized for anything that cannot
be clarified by science or religion.
The staple foods of Maldivians are Fish and rice while
chicken and meat are only eaten on important celebration. Fish soup,
fried fish and fish curry are national dishes. Areca nut (an oval
nut chewed with betel leaf, cloves and lime) is the the after-dinner
Alcohol are available only in the resorts. The local brew is raa,
sweet and delicious drink tapped from the crown of the palm trunk.
Besides coconuts, only a few fruits and vegetables are grown on
the islands, so most of the food available at the resorts is imported.