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Last updated : Nov 2009
Male Culture Guide
Male Culture Guide - TravelPuppy.com
Although traditional 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 mint equivalent.

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.