The Colombo Plan Staff College family remembers its Maldivian brothers and sisters in celebrating two important national holidays in their country’s history held on this month of November. It conveys its good wishes to the country and hopes that it will continue to thrive in prosperity, peace and harmony.
History of Qaumee Dhuvas
The National Day of the Maldives is celebrated on November 9 as a tribute of the day when local resistance drove out the Portuguese occupiers after they had seized and ruled the islands for a span of 15 years.
The Portuguese had arrived in 1558, killed the local sultan, and taken over. In 1573, however, Muhammad Thakurufaanu and his forces took back Male in a decisive victory that effectively eliminated the Portuguese presence.
The date of Maldives National Day is based on the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar. Therefore, the date will change by about 10 days each year. However, National Day falls on the first day of the month of Rabi-ul-Awwal, which in 2017 is November 19 and November 9 on 2018, depending on the moon sightings. The National Day in the local Dhivehi language is “Qaumee Dhuvas”.
History of Republic Day
Governed as an Islamic sultanate until 1968, the Maldives has a murky historical past. Details aren’t clear about the sultans that ruled over the islands, likely in part due to both the fragmented nature of the community as well as the lack of historical storage facilities.
Being an island nation, the Maldives were visited and influenced by many cultures including pirates from the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. It was also a British protectorate between 1887 and 1965. Even the Portuguese had a brief influence on the country’s history in the 16th century.
On July 26, 1965 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, a ceremony took place at the British High Commissioner’s Residence where full political independence was given to the Maldives with a signed agreement between the sultan of the Maldives (then known as Maldive Islands) and the designated British ambassador. However, it wasn’t until November 11, 1968 that the monarchy was fully abolished and a republic installed under President Ibrahim Nasir. This conversion to a republic is now celebrated annually as Republic Day.
Traditions, Customs and Activities
National Day is celebrated primarily by means of numerous parades held throughout Maldives, the main one being in the capital city of Male. These are heavily military parades, very ceremonial in nature and flag-raising ceremonies. You can also find stage performances, children’s events, and fireworks displays at some events on some years.
In addition, the celebration of Republic day, which is just two days away, is usually vibrant and colorful with marching bands and children wearing their finest while parading down the streets. As Islam is the official religion of the country, the parades often have a significant Arabian flair.
During the festivities, the locals feast on huni hakuru folhi (a cake made from coconut, sugar and flour), masroshi (a small pancake stuffed with fish), or bodibaiy (a sweet, sugary rice treat).
- “Holidays Around the World: The People of Maldives Celebrate Republic Day” (n.d.). Retrieved on November 6, 2018 at http://aglobalworld.com/holidays-around-the-world/maldives-republic-day/
- Wikipedia (2017). “Qaumee Dhuvas (Maldives National Day)”. Retrieved on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qaumee_Dhuvas_(Maldives_National_Day)