Maldivians have great national pride. In all festival
planning a feeling of family is sensed as women, men, and
children share in the preparation of food, decoration, and
entertainment programs. Most celebrations will find a blending
of tradition and modern entertainment. Folk dances and music
using wooden instruments may be followed by modern jazz or pop
music. People from all professions work side by side in a
spirit of co-operation for these celebrations.
Besides important religious holidays celebrated following the lunar
calendar, traditional celebrations provide a festive atmosphere.
Independence Day brings days of festive activities with school and
government holidays. Almost every holiday brings out the green and red
national flags criss-crossed over main streets and displayed from
private homes. Festivals usually have two types of parades: the usual
marching of bands and the parade of children smartly groomed for viewing
by all neighbours and sundry spectators.
Whether commemorating a marriage or circumcision, the drummers,
dancers, and singers keep pace with the rhythm of traditional music.
Most celebrations offer an excuse for a feast. Gula (fried fish balls
with tuna and coconut), kuli boakiba (spicy fish cakes), foni boakiba
(coconut milk and rice pudding), and kiru Sarbat (sweet milk drink) are
popular dishes. The special after-dinner treat is made from bileh
leaves, foah nuts, and cloves. A festival may also include a tour group
of young Maldivian women and musicians, who provide a special
entertainment, Bandiya Jehun: the beating of metallic water pots to the
tune of an accompanying song. The island poet may be called upon to
recite Raivaru, a traditional form of poetry sung in a slow, even tune
which expresses various sentiments.