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.
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
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.
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.