Maldives celebrates Ramazan with food, festivities, fasting, prayer

The Maldives has seen a flurry of activities in the lead up to the holy month of Ramadan, which began today (July 9) in the tropical island nation, with festivities and devout worship to continue throughout the month.

Ramadan marks month in which the Quran was revealed to mankind, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is a time of fasting, is one of the five pillars of Islam and represents a form of worship to Allah.

During Ramadan, or Ramazan as the holy month is referred to in the Maldives, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds.

Maldivians throughout the 100 percent Sunni Muslim nation will abstain from eating, drinking and sexual activity from dawn until sunset throughout ‘roadha mas’ (fasting month).

The rituals during this holy month are intended remind those who follow Islam of their duty as a Muslim, by keeping them away from worldly temptations to tame the mind and instill determination.

Extensive cleaning, home repairs, as well as shopping for foodstuffs and other household supplies are common practice in preparation for Ramazan throughout the Maldives, as is hosting banquet celebrations, traditionally referred to as ‘maahefun’ parties, to welcome the coming of Ramazan and symbolically celebrate eating the last meal before ‘roadha mas’.

Family, friends, and neighbors come together to enjoy traditional food and music, while many celebrations have ‘boduberu’ performances, a combination of traditional singing, dancing and rhythmic drumming considered one of the most high-profile examples of Maldivian culture.

Maahefun block parties have been ongoing throughout Male’ neighborhoods, particularly over the last week, in addition to events hosted by political parties, businesses, schools and government offices.

Since the exact date Ramazan begins is derived each year from phases of the moon, moving backwards an average of 10 days every year, last night (July 8 ) the Islamic Affairs Ministry held a small conference to confirm the sighting of the new moon.

During a ceremony following the meeting, the Islamic Affairs Ministry declared that today (July 9) would mark the beginning of Ramazan in the Maldives, as well as some other Muslim countries where the new moon had been sighted.

Now that Ramazan has officially begun the flurry of parties and preparations have given way to calm and quiet during the day, particularly in Male’ where there is a noticeable lack of people on the roads in the typically overcrowded capital.

Working hours have been reduced to between 9:00am to 1:30pm, as per previous years, while cafes and restaurants have been permitted to remain open until 3:00am. In previous years, many eateries and other businesses were open 24 hours, however in October 2012, the Ministry of Economic Development revoked the 24 hour licensing permits issued to businesses across the country, citing concerns over national security.

The pace of daily life has slowed to accommodate the difficulties that arise from not eating or drinking, which can be quite challenging given the tropical equatorial climate in the Maldives.

Mosques are brimming with worshipers – in some cases they are overflowing with people who can be seen praying in the street – during the five regular prayer times which fall around 5am (fajr), 12pm (dhuhr), 3:30pm (asr), 6pm (maghrib), and 7pm (isha).

There is also an special tarawih (night prayer) that takes place during Ramazan; while the exact prayer time varies it always follows isha prayers.

Another optional prayer time in the middle of the night, around 2am, is referred to as ‘dhamu namaadhu’ (midnight prayer) in the Maldives. While it takes place throughout the year, there are more attendees during this holy month.

One of the most significant aspects of Ramazan is Laylat al-Qadr, the anniversary of the night the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Mohamed, which falls on one of the last nights of roadha mas although the exact date is unknown. It is believed that an individual who prays with devout sincerity on this day will have all their past sins forgiven.

The spiritual oneness of island communities in the Maldives is palpable during Ramazan, especially when most of the community comes together to pray in the quiet, peaceful hours of the night, while the Imam’s Quran recitation can be heard echoing on the breeze.

While the religious significance and ritual practice of Ramazan makes this an extremely important month for Maldivians – and Muslims worldwide – it is also very festive.

Maldivians break fast as soon as the call to magrib prayers is heard in the evening, eating delicious traditional foods during ‘roadha villun’ (fast breaking). Dates and fresh juice – watermelon and young coconut are particularly popular – are followed by sweet and savory ‘hedhika’ (short eats).

Although the hedhika varies by household, a surprising variety of dishes can be derived from the basic ingredients of tuna, shredded coconut, chilies, onions, and flour. ‘Haaru’ (supper) is also taken sometime in the middle of the night, with many traditional dishes served during Ramazan.

This year a Male’ City Ramadan Fresh Market consisting of 24 stalls selling fresh fruits and vegetables is being held in the capital’s Henviru ward, near the Artificial Beach. The market will be open daily from 8am until 1am until the end of the Eid holidays in mid-August.

Unfortunately, the increased demand during Ramazan also drives up food prices throughout the country each year.

The sundown to sunrise festivities are not limited to food. There is also an increase in evening sports events, such as football tournaments, as well as entertainment programs on TV, like the popular boduberu challenge that has been broadcast annually in recent years.

Given the importance of the holiday, President Mohamed Waheed issued a Ramazan greeting to the nation, noting that the holy month was an occasion to strengthen communal relations and an opportunity to restore peace and order in the society.

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9 thoughts on “Maldives celebrates Ramazan with food, festivities, fasting, prayer”

  1. I've never heard it referred to as Ramazan. Dhivehistanis call it Roadhamas (from Persian roza) or Rum Loan (The Dravidian tongue is not used to Semitic pronunciations).

    What it should be called is Hypocrisy Month. It's supposed to be holy but the sinning increases in fervor under a thin pretense of piety. We can see wrath, sloth, gluttony, lust, vanity and envy in abundance. Perhaps the onerous rituals justifies the increased sinning for Dhivehitanis.

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  2. The Glorious month of Ramadhan, the month in which Holy Quran was revealed to Mohammed is upon us. For most Mulsims today, the meaning of Ramadhan is totally lost.

    As "Homosexual" pointed out, various forms of indulgence and sinning actually rise during this month. The most obvious one is that of Israf, i.e. wastage. The mountains of food that people get through as well as waste is just beyond comprehension. The fact that people actually increase their weight during Ramadhan was something which I've never understood (I do understand the physiological reasons for it, i.e. huge quantities of food combined with very little activity).

    May Allah show us the right way to behave in this holy month.

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  3. Fasting from dawn to sun set and eating whole night is the unhealthiest religious practice done by these crazy people. There is no such health benefit in this and even there is nothing you can gain morally. When your whole system is messed up what moral teaching you can get out of it. When people are starved they are simply animals, your brain does not work properly. During Ramadan domestic violence increases and people become simply worthless merely breathing animals.
    The Islamic fasting is simply is an act of slavery and sacrifice to make Allah happy and today people are trying to make sense out of it and make stories that it has health benefits and it strengths morality.
    The fact about fasting clearly reveals that this is simply madness.
    (A new study by scientists in the United States has revealed that pregnant Muslim women who fast during Ramadan are likely to have smaller babies who will be more prone to learning disabilities in adulthood.
    The researchers also found that the women were 10 per cent less likely to give birth to a boy if they had fasted during Ramadan. The trend was clearest if the fasting was done early in the women’s pregnancy, and during the summer months, when long hours of daylight called for them to go longer without food.
    . . .
    The study, which used census data from the US, Iraq and Uganda, also discovered long-term effects on the adult’s health and his or her future economic success.
    "We generally find the largest effects on adults when Ramadan falls early in pregnancy," the Independent quoted Douglas Almond, of Columbia University, and Bhashkar Mazumder, of the Federal Research Bank of Chicago, the authors of the research, as saying.
    "Rates of adult disability are roughly 20 per cent higher, with specific mental disabilities showing substantially larger effects. Importantly, we detect no corresponding outcome differences when the same design is applied to non-Muslims," they added)

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  4. why cannot the kuffar let us be? by abstaining from food are we harming them? Is it not evident that kuffar and secularists are generally more intolerant? They cannot even stand muslims fasting.

    this is why we shall reject this 'laadheenee' baigandu wherever they are. they are a real threat to peace and harmony in our society.

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  5. Fasting is one of best spins that came out of Arabia to shackle men and control them.

    Pure diamond.

    Stun the men, weaken them, make them feel they are atoning to sins that they never even heard of, toss the source to the Almighty... What more easier way to control men and make them forget about what you have to deliver to the public especially when you are retarded and have run out of intelligent initiatives to appease the public.

    Brilliant piece of work.

    No amount of scientic facts could change these idiots minds.

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  6. How ironic when a muslim asks everyone to leave them alone, while they are on the hunt to literally kill infidels, apostates, homosexuals and anybody who speaks against their fascist religion.

    On topic though, I have noticed a trend amongst a lot of younger dhivehistanis to secretly drink red bull during ramadan. I wonder why

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  7. The kuffar will leave you alone when you leave the kuffar alone, Mr. Being. 🙂

    http://minivannewsarchive.com/society/four-men-arrested-for-eating-during-fasting-hours-10648

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  8. Human Being … I wonder whether you do really fast, I doubt about it. Now we know that your judges who execute orders for stoning adulterers in fact they themselves are guilty of it. And this puts us in a position to believe that your action does not always reflect what you believe and we call it hypocrisy.

    I don’t know why you want be a hypocrite with your God, because it seems your hypocrisy is between you and your God. We take this as weakness in your belief, if you are really sure and have no doubts that there is someone out there watching your action, you will not dare to play hypocrisy with him. We kuffar have no doubt that there is no one there who is watching us and we do good because we think our purpose of life is to do good, having said that of course your goodies are totally different than what is ours. You think to be a good persons there are some silly thing you have to do like kissing the ground five times a day, starve your cells from dawn to dust, cover your women like mummies and go to Mecca to stone the devil and kiss a black stone. For us definition of good persons is who helps fellow human being to refrain from doing harmful things to themselves and to others, and to strive with invention and ideas that can help to alleviate all human suffering. We talk the truth about your mental capacity and give evidence based arguments that you are simply intellectually bankrupt. If you are unable to differentiate between realities and fantasy than it is your weakness. By the way we don’t care even if you commit suicide in the name of your religion but don’t expect to take the rest of humanity with you. Our problem is, in your country if someone doesn’t want do the silly things you majority do, you start discriminating against them, harassing and make laws to punish them.

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