The Maldives is a perfect archipelago, located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and home to more than 1,190 small coral islands. The Country of Maldives is noted for its beauty and is one of the most visited travel destinations all around the world. Now that you are reopening your borders and starting safe tourism for international tourists on July 15, 2020, why not make the most of it?
For newbies, traveling to the country will be very exciting, but at the same time, there is much more to expect and understand beyond exotic lifestyles.
For example, did you know that the Maldives is a Muslim country? Newbies often overlook religion, but it is important to know this in advance and pay attention to compliance. Although bikinis and bathing suits are allowed at the resorts, they are not acceptable during your stay on the local islands, unless there is a specific “Bikini Beach” for that purpose.
Public display of affection is also a serious matter in the Maldives- keeping it to a minimum on local islands is recommended.
The Maldives has one of the highest literacy rates in the world and also they have their own language, Dhivehi. This means that most people have a good command of English, which makes communication easier.
The Maldives also has its own currency, the Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR). Other forms of currency, such as US dollars and euros, are accepted in most places and you can also pay with your card. There are card machines and ATMs available on most islands and resorts, but it is advisable to carry cash if you are on a local island, just to be safe. The current exchange rate for US dollars to Maldivian Rufiyaa is 15.42 (MVR 15.42 per $ 1).
In the Maldives, the pre arriving Visa is not mandatory. A 30-day visa is issued on arrival for all nationalities, but please ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months remaining and that you have a valid ticket to return to your country. However, with current safety precautions, a health declaration card will be required according to the procedure.
There are many accommodation options to choose from, as the country is full of beautiful resorts, hotels, guest houses, and cruises that cater to a variety of travelers. The best you can do is research, save, and book early. Choosing a place can be difficult, but it all comes down to your budget and preference.
Alcohol and pork are served at resorts and dive cruises; This is where the rules are a little more relaxed and there will be plenty to choose from. However, because the Maldives is a Muslim country, they are prohibited on the local islands.
You can also travel at affordable prices and still live the dream of beach life by staying at a guest house or boutique hotel on a local island in the Maldives. This guarantees the opportunity to experience the island lifestyle while experiencing the culture and heritage of the Maldives. The islanders are hospitable and will be more than happy to invite you to lunch and other activities.
What to do ?
You can ask what you can do besides lounging on the beach and managing your vitamin D. There are several options to choose from. You see, you can enjoy every imaginable water activity here from snorkeling to diving, jet-skiing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and more. Also, there are excursions, fishing trips, and even dolphin watching. You can also visit nearby lagoons and sandbars for a magical dose of serenity and privacy. The possibilities are endless in the Maldives.
Sea travel is not the only thing that exists in the country, but that is approximately half of the reality. Transportation from the main airport, Velana International Airport, to the desired island or local resort is done by speedboat or seaplane. The speedboat is used to transport tourists to nearby islands, while a seaplane is used for remote and distant islands and resorts.
Traveling by seaplane is a unique experience in itself, you can see islands and atolls as a whole and take lots of lovely photos along the way! Most of the time, you can always get a representative of the resort to accompany you, this makes things much easier.
The Stories of Bodu Mas and Koadi Kendun
There are many folklores that offer a deep insight into the history, culture, and beliefs of the Maldives natives. These folk tales are full of magic, spirits, demons, monsters, and sorcerers often depicted in books, movies, and cultural activities.
Bodu Mas is the most anticipated celebration of Eid al-Adha. Watch the islanders gather and the fishermen catch a large fish made from woven coconut palm leaves. “Bodu” means big while “Mas” means fish. This celebration is followed by “Maali Neshun“, a traditional form of dance performed by a group of people painted and dressed as evil spirits and ghosts.
This tradition is based on ancient folklore in which a Bodu Mas (a big fish) along with Maali (ghosts) had come out of the sea and a fight ensued to catch him. After a long fight, the villagers are said to have succeeded with the help of a holy man.
Koadi Kendun (cut of a wooden stick) is celebrated together with Bodu Mas. The men of the island unite to adorn the “Koadi”, a wooden stick made from a coconut palm, decorated with coconut palm leaves. When it is night, the koadi is taken out and danced around it. The dancers wear African-inspired costumes, made with coconut palm leaves and paint.
Costumes change every year as pop culture has a great influence on inspiration and creativity. Then the koadi is tied to the top of a coconut palm and a playful game begins where the women must protect the koadi from the men while trying to cut it. The man who succeeds is rewarded with a dip in the sea, followed by a glorious party.
Eid Al-Adha or “Bodu Eid” as we know
Eid al-Adha is an Islamic festival celebrated in the Maldives, it’s the day after Hajj Day. Its importance is derived from the importance associated with Hajj. An annual Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. Muslims from around the world observe this festival in color, as it is a holiday that lasts for a few days.
In the Maldives, it is no exception. Eid al-Adha is called “Bodu Eid” due to the tradition of “Bodu Mas” that is observed in many parts of the country, mainly on the local islands. Family and friends generally travel together, some escape the busy city life and others visit loved ones at home.
The day begins with an Eid prayer early in the morning, a congregational event with the flooded mosque of the faithful followed by “Kulhi Boakibaa” (fish cake). Each home will prepare a large amount of tasty local food, inviting family, friends, and neighbors for breakfast and lunch. Some of these parties are completed with a “Malaafaiy”. Malaafaiy is the name given to large wooden serving plates, with the exterior and lid adorned with beautiful traditional lacquer work.
Dishes are usually filled with rice and curry bowls, as well as other side dishes, salads, and bananas, covered by the lid. The Malaafaiy is wrapped in a cloth tied at the top. Cultural events, music, and dancing make this a memorable occasion. These events start as early as in the morning and continue until midnight.
The beginning of the festivities is usually “Fenkulhi”, a playful activity in which small bags of water are mixed with dyes and colored oils and thrown together. While most people love it, some tend to avoid it, but the visitors to the Maldives are likely to be caught in the middle when kids and adults run all over the island, making everyone victims of their games. It is very similar to the ever-popular Laser Tag game except that there are no laser guns involved and they are all winners.
Music and dance fill the streets and houses with joy and happiness. “Bodu Beru Jehun” (playing big drums) is perhaps the most widely performed form of music and dance today. It consists of men in traditional dress, singing, and dancing to songs that vary in mood and rhythm. Most of them start slowly and increase their rhythm and a couple of men start dancing as they go. The art of dancing Bodu Beru is unique in that the dancers throw their arms and legs and sway to the beat in a fun way. The public generally comes together, enjoyed by men and women of all ages.
Some of the other forms are “Bandiyaa Jehun” (a dance typically performed by women using flowerpots), “Dhandi Jehun” (a dance performed with sticks), and “Thaara”, which is a tambourine, performed by 22 people seated in two rows parallel to each other.
While the customs of the traditions have changed over time, Bodu Eid remains a testament to the strong community ties in the Maldives.
It is an opportunity to meet, relax, and enjoy vibrant festivities, full of fits of emotion, laughter, and joy.