“It’s not as friendly as it used to be”: the price of politics on Maalhos

Eid brings Muslims worldwide together in a shared sense of celebration. It is also a litmus test for change.

Earlier this year councils were elected for the first time on Maldivian islands. Although they allegedly give islands a larger voice in the national dialogue, in some places the shift has rearranged community life.

“The activities are less common – women don’t play and men do less for Eid,” said Haleema Adam, a Maalhos resident.

Her daughter Nazeera attributed the shift to the advent of multi-party democracy.

“The democracy and party systems created divisions, now people don’t always agree on things,” she said. “Now, people make distinctions by party lines. They still go to the celebrations and help cook for big events, but it’s not as friendly as it used to be. If [our family] plans a party, the others won’t come,” she said.

In keeping with most reports from Maldivian islands, Maalhos residents do not find solutions in aggression. “They don’t show anger in the face,” said Nazeera. “But in the heart it’s there, so they don’t want to play at Eid.”

Eid activities are a favored pastime – ask most islanders on Maalhos about the festivities and they will smile as they recollect a favorite food, game or performance. Yet as young people move to Male’ and technology becomes more accessible, the strongest memories seem to rest with the elderly.

At Ramazan, a conche shell is traditionally blown to signal to other islands that the holiday is being observed. Lately, television and radio have eliminated the need, and therefore the tradition.

Electricity has been a useful advent, however. According to Nazeera, boys and girls no longer have to wait for a full moon to play gon kulhun, a night time game of tag and capture.

Aneesa Adam has many grandchildren, and has lived on Maalhos for most of her life. She remembers a swing that was traditionally hung from a tall palm tree before Eid prayer and used by children throughout the holiday.

“Now, the really tall palm trees have gone,” she said. “They were cut down to build the jetty. A nearby resort bought the trees and in exchange built our jetty.”

The game of fankulhun, a palm leaf version of dodge ball played by women, has fallen in the wake of uncompromising fashions. “Now, we’re too fashionable, too western to play those running games,” said Aminath Nasiha. Another girl gestured to her hijaab.

The changes in Eid traditions are most noticeable by women, who note that activities faded with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

“Religious people don’t like activities that gather men and women together. Those who are in charge of the activities have also become more religious, so they can decide what happens,” said Haleema. “Islanders like the activities, women especially, but most have stopped with religion. We don’t like the change.”

“We used to have Women’s day and Fisherman’s day and all those days,” said Haleema. “The women would cook and we’d bring the food in a keyn (large dish) to the school, because it was the only communal space big enough for everyone to gather.” She said the practice stopped four years ago when sheikhs disapproved.

Maalhos residents used to cook on the 40th day after a death to remember the life of the deceased. “We thought it was a Muslim tradition, but now they are saying it is a waste and not good,” said one resident.

Mosques have been gradually segregated over the years, but now women report being told to pray at home. Maalhos has four mosques, two for men and two for women.

Entertainment has been restricted as well. Haleema said local authorities oppose concerts and dance shows as well as a variety of traditional activities. On a quiet island, few options remain.

Several sports-based games featuring women are less common, or are played on a quieter level within families or household units. Women interviewed said they used to play bodu beru, a traditional drumming music still featured at most events. None could explain why they had stopped.

At a bodu beru celebration this Eid girls encouraged onlooking foreigners to dance. When asked if they would join, most girls gestured to their hijaab or burqa and shrugged. “You should have come two years ago, I was dancing then, oh!” said one girl. “But then I took up this [burqa], and that changed.”

“It’s just not very comfortable to dance with this long dress,” said another.


22 thoughts on ““It’s not as friendly as it used to be”: the price of politics on Maalhos”

  1. What the hell is wrong with this Eleaner Johnstone? All her "reports" contain anti-Muslim bigotery. Go practice your Islam hatred else where, not in maldives.

  2. @ MDL

    What the hell is wrong with you? No one's writing ani-Islamic stuff here.

    You're a typical narrow minded sick Islamic extremist. People like you wrap bombs around themselves and go into public places and blows themselves away with innocent people.

    Try to learn to live in a cosmopolitan world just like Prophet Mohamed. He lived amongst pagans, Jews and Christians, 'Majoosees', etc. And most of these non-Muslims were from his family.

    Yet the Prophet didn't BLOW them up or shut them up. He loved freedom of all sorts including freedom of expression. All he tells is to the Muslims was to try to LEARN good things from EVEN the Christians or non-Muslims. Not to attack Jewish synagogues or Christian churches, NOT to KILL women, children and elderly people. In short LIVE & LET LIVE (in a cosmopolitan WORLD).

    But those who came after him KILLED his grandson and became KILLER rulers. Just like Maumoon - preaches Islam but kills others and SHUT FREEDOM and educates only their close ones. The result was that the Muslim empire soon became a FOOLISH empire with FOOLISH MUSLIMS without any modern education with only a handful of educated TOP-ASSES. It was an inadequate and poorly managed system. And soon the Christians took over them. HAHAHA

  3. By the way, I'm a Maldivian and a MUSLIM. So go fux# yourself, MDL and others like him who names ISLAM in everything they say and do.

  4. @MDL on Wed, there is nothing wrong with Eleaner Johnstone thinking. Actually it is your way of thinking people who don’t support. Keep in mind the majority of Maldivian don’t support Bedouin, Pakistani and Afghanistan culture.

  5. the last minivan news reporter mariyam omidi was found to write for pink news and was working illegally in maldives under a false visa and we kicked her out of the country.
    wonder what dirty laundary we will find of this anti islam bigot elenor johnstone.
    remember elenor johnstone, there are lots of 'religious conservatives' and 'burga wearing people' who are quite capable and who will not tolerate your continued propagenda against them. think about this.

  6. fodi
    your name tells it all. and you are not worth replying.
    please open a window or something.

  7. Good work Minivan. However you have to step up the ante and employ more populist writers to prepare the masses in time for the conference on religious freedom that Iruthisham promised.

    I think your secularization program is hurt by the employment of unpopular niche bloggers like Yaamyn. Nothing personal Yaamyn, just offering my years of experience to Minivan. So, look to people and processes that make an impact. Yaamyn's animated feature certainly registers with the public. However his style of writing and overall demeanor does not.

    The Ehandhaanuga retro shows also help to diminish religious-conservatism. Some more activities centered around the newly opened fast-food franchise Marrybrown might also help as most of the common masses cannot resist indulging themselves. Rather than attack Burqa-wearers it might help to emphasize those girls who don colorful scarves and are ready for a good time as much as any tranny at a red-light area in Amsterdam.

    Good luck Minivan. However please keep in mind that the forces working against your agenda are gathering strength as well.

  8. Any attempt to 'secularize' maldives will not succeed, Insha Allah.
    We will make sure of it. We are ready to pay any price for it, even with our blood.

  9. @MDL

    As a regular reader, I have never seen "anti-muslim bigotry" anywhere on Minivan News. The author in this article merely made an observation of the radicalization of religion within the community that was echoed by the islanders themselves.

    People are going to talk about what the Maldivian Taliban are doing whether you like it or not. That doesn't make the dialogue anti-Islamic.

    We all know that everything you don't like are anti-islamic for you. So why don't you just mind your own islamic business?

  10. With fundamental islam come the mad mullahs and the inevitable destruction of local customs and traditions. This is what is happening in the Maldives. You already deny your preislamic (buddhist) history. Soon you will be like northern Pakistan where the Taliban are destroying girls' schools, music shops etc. Why is it that all activities that uplift the human spirit are deemed unislamic by the mad mullahs? Not surprising that muslim countries are the most boring places in the world. Small wonder all your youth are addicted to drugs.
    Please don't insult me by assuming I am muslim and Maldivian. I am hindu and Indian.......born lucky I guess.

  11. @ bystander
    we will see whether this website is withing the law when we present our case to the court.
    Just wait and see.
    We will see how much of the maldivian constitution and rules and regulation are being violated by this websites continued publication of islam hating comments, its anti-islam bias in news reporting and it employing islamophobic bigots.

  12. @MDL
    @maldives defenders league

    Honestly, from a standpoint of all, I think the article says the truth. It speaks of how we have become. How religion and culture have clashed and what has come out..

    little to wonder y as we all know the reason behind it. Eleaner Johnstone was one reporter who could tell this truth becz shes outsider. Imagine if sum1 local wrote this, m sure u all wud have eaten her or him for lunch and dinner eh..

    There was a time when people cooked at home and when they finished their meals, they share the leftovers with the neighbours. NOw, taking is a shame and giving is mistreating and seeing others low..

    It is my understanding that when sum1 says somethn good, pple have to listen and accept it..no matter who told...today it was maalhos talkin the language of the whole country...devided between mullas, politicians, councilors & parties...where husband does not sleep with wife because she support a different party...where brothers and sisters hate each other for the same reasons...

    I donno what will come of Maldives...with pple hu think like 'defenders league', 'MDL' and 'Advise'; it will go no where.

  13. i'm from maalhos. it is a small island and we know each other in the island.
    most of the people the writer mentioned do not exist in the island. the writer has has made up peoples name and simply wrote things that are the opinion of the writer. is this the standard of journalism of minivan news. shame on you.

  14. Good article, bringing into focus the drastic change of our social values due to the spread of extreme Salafi / Sunni brand of "Islam" and the effect of economic development at the cost of environment and social values.

  15. @ maldives defenders league

    If you're serious about the court case, it's not going to accomplish anything. It will do nothing to validate your point even if the courts ruled in your favor. Maldivian courts are a farce. Our judges wouldn't know justice if it came and flogged them in public.

    Your case will most likely be thrown out of court. Because there is nothing anti-Islam about minivannewsarchive.com. I think you're the one with the real problem with Islam, if you think people who doesn't wear beards and tents and funny hats are anti-islamic.

  16. its probably been half a century since games like "gon jehun" on eid....this is pure crap, with undertones of anti islamism.....

  17. @INDHIRA NEWDELHI ..." muslim countries are the most boring places in the world"????????!!!!
    what the hell??!!then why the hell are sooo many stinking indians here....

  18. @aishy
    I bet there are tens of thousands of stinking Maldivians in India too. India should slam the door shut on you backward people. Having intolerant '100% sunni muslim' people here pollutes our happy, heathen, secular atmosphere. Maybe all the Indian doctors and teachers should leave the Maldives........you don't even have a university in your country........and the only decent hospital IGMH in Male is a gift from India........so just shut up.


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