Because nothing anchors your stay on the island more than her ancient lores.
The Republic of Maldives, or Maldives for short, is known for being one of the world’s best tropical destinations to visit at least once in your lifetime. “I’ve never been to the Maldives and I’d love to go one day as everyone says it’s paradise,” mused English TV host Emma Willis once upon a time, and we couldn’t agree more. The South Asian island country owes much of her heavenly status to her mythologically rich history. Located southwest of India in the Arabian Sea, Maldives is home to many ancient legends, each adding up to the seafaring identity that she holds strong today. Fancy a relaxing vacation on this side of the world? We uncover the top five Maldivian lores that you can honour as you indulge in the lush offerings of this colourful destination.
1. The symbolism of coconuts
The coconut tree is deemed sacred by Maldivians, which is also why it stands as the country’s national tree. This ideology finds its roots in realm of magic. It was said that coconut trees came to sprout on Maldives because a fandita, or sorcerer, had transmuted their growth from the skulls of the first settlers buried there. Quite the creepy start, we would have to admit, but one that’s nonetheless iconic. Transport yourself back in history every time you sip in coconut water by the beach, sit under a coconut tree or buy a memorabilia engraved with the coconut-themed Maldivian emblem.
2. The significance of tuna fish
Coconuts are not the only symbolic offering in Maldives; you can also honour the country’s origins by indulging in tuna fish. Being the dietary staple of Maldivians nationwide, the fish can be found anywhere and everywhere on the islands. According to local beliefs, the abundance of tuna was due to a close encounter that a mythical seafarer named Bodu Niyami Kalēfanu had with the Dagas, a mythical tree at the end of the world. As a result of this event, the fish was brought from where the tree was to Maldivian shore, and thus began its residential breeding and national food status.
3. The tale of Maldives’s first king
The story of King Koimala is a soft serve reminding visitors to appreciate Maldives’s sparkling wonders and developments. The first to rule the entire archipelago, the king was revered for bringing kingdomship to the lush territories, officiating the nature-fused Buddhist beliefs of whatever little inhabitants there were before him as he went. Word has it that King Koimala himself came from humble origins; his early days was spent as a wandering orphan in a small forest in Sri Lanka, herds of cattles always by his side. It was only after being found and adopted by the Sri Lankan ruler King Serendip would he then learn the ropes of sovereignty, which he later applied after discovering Malé Atoll, a beautiful atoll north of Maldives. So if you ever wonder why Maldivians are superbly tuned to their environment, you need only look at their country’s history to find out.
4. The history of Islamic practices
Maldivians today practice Sunni Islam, having left their Buddhist days behind since the 12th century. Their belief system, sustained in the officiation of Islam as the country’s national religion, finds its origin in the lore of Rannamaari. According to mythologists, Rannamaari was a sea monster who lived in Maldivian waters. He could only be kept away via the sacrifice of a virgin from time to time. This macabre routine was said to cease only when Abul Barakat, a Moroccan scholar, arrived in Maldives. Upon hearing Barakat’s recitations of the Quran, Rannamaari then dived back into the Arabian Sea, never to return again. As a result of the scholar’s victory against the creature, the entire Maldivian nation decided to embrace Islam, and has never looked back since.
5. The forecast of Maldives’s end
Everything good in life will to an end, and according to Maldivian folklore, so will Maldives. It is said that somewhere in the future, the entire island will catastrophically sink beneath the sea, catastrophically meeting the same fate allegedly assigned to Italy’s Venice as well as the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Nothing showcases the belief in this Atlantis-like myth more than the crop of modern architecture on Maldives today. Urban adaptation works are increasingly taking place as a way to cruise through a present problem of rising sea levels. Since no one can really predict when Maldives will actually submerge in water, the only way to brace through this existential crisis is by appreciating the archipelago while she is still around!