New NGO ’39’ hopes to promote traditional Maldivian culture

The inauguration of new NGO Thirees Nuvaeh (‘thirty nine’), dedicated to promoting traditional Maldivian culture, has been postponed until next week because of rain in Male’.

The name ‘39′ is a reference to Article 39 of the Constitution, which states that all citizens will “participate in the cultural life of the nation.”

The organisation claims it will work towards “strengthening and consolidating democratic principles, human rights, gender equality and social justice; and, to lobby the government, the parliament, the judiciary, political parties, independent commissions, private agencies and individuals.”

One of the founding members of 39, Mohamed Nazim, said “we are losing cultural activities, because some groups and political parties are trying to push other ways of life.”

He said the purpose of the NGO was to bring back traditional Maldivian culture, and things people are no longer doing “because of political and other reasons.”

These include to traditional activities like thara jehun and bandiya jehun, traditional music and dance, both of which will be part of the inauguration ceremony tomorrow night.

Nazim said women in particular had stopped taking part in these activities “because they are not allowed or have been convinced it’s not good for them.”

“We are trying to tell people, ‘keep your eyes open, we are losing something valuable to us,’” Nazim said.

He noted they had approached most political parties, who have “indicated assistance and support” for the organisation.

Nazim said since “party politics are the main show of the town,” it was good to have close ties to the parties, but that while “we will take advice”, the NGO will not be a political organisation.

“We are trying to stay out of politics,” he said, adding that 39 has “members of all political parties” already signed up to the organisation.

Nazim said the NGO was founded after a group of 32 young Maldivians approached the president earlier this year to talk about Maldivian culture and moderate Islam.

He said there were currently no civil groups advocating for the strengthening of culture in the country, and “there was nothing they or the government could do.”

So they decided to found the NGO and lobby for cultural activities to be a more prominent part of Maldivian life.

“We want to bring these issues to the public,” he said.

The NGO will offer “seminars, functions and training sessions” to the public, and will bring professionals from overseas to help with the material.

“They will help us on how we’re going to survive and keep our rich culture growing,” he said.

Additionally, 39 has been contacted by many local NGOs from the islands and by foreign organisations who wish to assist them. The group said it hoped to work local organisations who are “like-minded” and promote their ideas.

Nazim explained that many of the local NGOs have “great ideas and objectives” and could do a lot for the country if they had better funding.

“Many NGOs are still not functioning because of lack of funding,” he said, noting that they already had pledges for funding from different people.

There are twelve founding members in Thirees Nuvaeh, but no full membership as of yet, “as we only received our registration from the Home Ministry yesterday,” Nazim said.

The inauguration was scheduled begin at 8.45pm on Friday night, but has been postponed due to the weather. Details about the new date will be available next week.


40 thoughts on “New NGO ’39’ hopes to promote traditional Maldivian culture”

  1. Absolutely wonderful!

    Organizations like these will go a long way in helping us find our true Maldivian identity.

    Too many Maldivians are confused and out of touch with the millenia-old rich, beautiful, tolerant and glorious Dhivehi culture.

    It is my belief that this lack of an own identity is what is driving so many youth towards aping foreign cultures - whether Arab or European.

    A cultural revival is long overdue in the Maldives.

    Bring back the 'thara jehun' and 'bandiya jehun' and the 'dhigu libaas' and all the charming little bits of Dhivehi culture that has been lost to politically motivated cultural genocide ! 😉

    All the best to 39, and may it prosper!

  2. Congratulations to the 32 people and others who worked hard to make this idea a reality!!! Lets work together to build a better future for generations to come.

  3. Culture is not Bodu Beru or bandiyaa.. But those activities EXPRESSIONS of the Maldives culture of its constituent sub cultures.

    Maldives Culture is shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes the Maldivians.

    The values are respecting each other, helping people, being modest, being family oriented, nationalistic, etc..

    Its not Bodu beru or Bandiya or Befulhism.

  4. Could '39' tell us 5 living people who represents the best of Maldivian cultural values..

    Hope at least one such person would be in 39 NGO.

  5. Culture is about the particular attitudes and behavior of a social group, and if you look at the Maldivian context, it would include bandiya and boduberu aswell, these are all parts of our cultural heritage.

    @Me "The values are respecting each other, helping people, being modest, being family oriented, nationalistic, etc.."

    = These are human values, as human beings these are some of the values that differentiates people from savages, other than the part of being nationalistic, which I believe negates some of the other characteristics you have highlighted based on nationality.

  6. I think no one can be fooled in why this was started. It will most likely be used to promote pro-western policies in the Maldives so we can move closer to countries such as the U.S who is currently waging war in a number of Muslim countries and pretty much stuck there without any sign of winning even though they some how keep claiming that their is progress for the past 7 years or more. hahah

  7. Absolute nonsense again promoted by Nasheed's cult followers. When we dont have 3 meals and shelter, what culture we are talking about.

  8. Congratulations to all those who have worked to make this a reality - What we really do need is a vibrant civil society. I think if the civil society gets things right, many things can happen. But, without the competent organisations, it will be quite difficult to consolidate democracy. So again, kudos to you guys. But, remain careful - many NGOs are around - but, do not have the capacity and die off eventually.

  9. @me;

    Culture Iceberg

    .... -visual attributes
    ``````` .........`````````sea level
    ............... - hidden attrib.

    Visual Attributes - customs. forlklores, attitude, language etc..

    Hidden attributes - norms, values, beliefs which drives the behaviours

    Hope this helps...

  10. Bandiya, Boduberu and many others form our culture - our identity. "We" define our identity. Cultures develop and change, matures and evolves. We just need to ensure that it survives - all of them wherever possible.

    ps: AFAIK, a greater number of 39 founders do not belong to any political party.

  11. "inauguration was scheduled begin at 8.45pm on Friday night, but has been postponed due to the weather." - this is very traditional! along with cutting queues and spitting mucus mixed with heera panna.

  12. congratulations 39! i wish you all the best. it is about time someone worked towards something that is on the brink of extinction in this country. we will welcome back our culture with open arms and warm hearts.

    @me: yes, bodu beru and bandiya is very much part of our culture. i am sure 39 will revive the friendly and generous lifestyles our fathers and grandfathers were used to. to the neighbourly respect and sense of security our people brought one another.

    39, this is just the beginning. i hope you grow to bring love and peace to our nation. good luck!

  13. Sounds like the NGO is already politicized, by the sounds of this article. If an NGO is actually trying to do something in this politicized climate the best action is not to advertise it and have a huge opening ceremony. Just do what u want to do, instead of trying to make it seem like u r the only people trying to help revive our dying culture.

    It isn't politics that has taken away most of our traditions and culture. I would say that TV had a lot to do with it too. We will never have people wearing Dhigu hedhun, or thaara jehun & Bandiya jehun, like in those days. That's why most countries have schools that teach it, for those who want to learn.

    Why not try to revive the "dhuves" akuru, raivaru, faris...thru the school system.

    Good luck.

  14. excellent!! finally something other than politics and religion for people to interact and revive the Maldivian way of life. i hope we get the chance to laugh and enjoy life through this NGO

  15. congartulations 39. This a massive step in the right direction. I am sure your efforts will save Maldivian society from sinking in to abyss.

    Good luck

  16. One might wonder: what is so moral or great about "culture" to revive it?

    What is so moral or uselful about "unique identity"?

    Why not we emphasise and promote the "human values" instead of the bodu beru, bandiya or bashi, which are all largely part of the patriarchal pleasures.

  17. We should also bring back Bodu Mauloodh, raise the white flags at Medhuziariath and other such places, Say Alhamdhulillahi everytime you pass Medhuziyaaraith, stop walking when you hear the call for the prayers. We should begin everything that the present Mulahs had prevented the Maldivians from doing. Organise discos like that was done at Icege, reopen Beach Villa, rename boduthakurufaanu magu Beach Road or Marine Drive. Get the ladies to throw away the veil or buruqaa. Please bring back the good old cultures where Maldivians practiced a liberal culture. Lets see how far you can go

  18. Ismail what about henveiru ganduvaru neshungandu(orgies)., a part of our heritage.probably these dances have already commenced there.

  19. I heard this NGO founders are bunch of so called Athesits and "liberist" who wants to work against the rise in Islamism in Maldives! I also heard this NGO wants to promote Gay activites as that was practiced in Maldivian royal family! I also heard many top brass politcal figure who has "Gay agenda" is behind this! Lets see if God fearing true Maldivians win this battle or some "Gay activitist or so called "liberals" wins this! May Allah Sw protect this country from these liberalists!!

  20. I do support 39 and its good intentions.

    But I hope that culture is simply not taken to mean the expressionist activities like various dance, music, maaloodh and art forms of Maldives. Such visible activities merely serves to represent the deeply embedded cultural values.

    To be simplistic, cultural expressions are visible. Cultural values are not so visible but it is the main driver of culture.

  21. this is wonderful and Maldives need 39. people need something other than religion and bongos politics to get involved with.yepeeeeeeee..go go 39s

  22. whats with the arab '3'? wtf does arabic numerals got to do with OUR culture?! other than that, from what i see as of now, i think this is awesome. i think this is great. thanx. and good luck.

  23. Why has an organisation supposedly dedicated to promoting Maldive culture has as its logo a number written in Arab numerals? The Maldives boasts two sets of indigenous numerals; Divess and Eveylaa and these people seem to want to pass characters they have imported from some Godforsaken foreign desert as traditional Maldive? Bad start, people; bad start!

  24. Whatever one wants to do in the name of culture cannot and must not be done against the principles of Islam - that is our bottomline. Many of the things mentioned by islamail are just such things which we have discarded because we know better now. I hope and pray that Maldivians will never allow to practice any munkaraaiy in our country in the name of reviving culture.

  25. "whats with the arab ‘3′? wtf does arabic numerals got to do with OUR culture?!"

    "Why has an organisation supposedly dedicated to promoting Maldive culture has as its logo a number written in Arab numerals?"

    Umm. Now that I think about it - that's a very valid point.

    On the other hand, almost every human being on Earth uses Arabic numerals as the de facto standard.

    But, yes. A Maldivian cultural revival movement should have adopted Dhives or Eveylaa preferably.

    *brain explodes*

  26. The logo in arab numerals looks nice. It reflects the culture from Pre-Maummon.

    I believe your are trying to restore Maldives culture to the Pre-Maumoon level in 1970s.

  27. Sorry to say most of the cultures we practiced conflicts with the new islam in Maldives.So first NGO39 should do something about Adhaalath and the other mullas, or Mutallib(the adaalath puppet) might take a no confidence vote against 39 in the parliament.Good luck guys, may Allah punish Adhaalath & all those who use islam a political weapon.

  28. 39 is trying to revive what maldives is all about. We have lost our culture and our beliefs. However, its not due to political parties we are no longer in touch with our culture.
    We should all take blame for our non existing culture. Islam as we known for the past 50 years (atleast as far as i can remember) has changed in just two years. All of a sudden so many "shaiks" are in male' and the funny thing is i am confused as to whom i should listen. after all no two "shaiks" says the same thing.
    therefore, 39 is doing a good job. even religion when its extreme should not be tolerated. Those ppl are making religion a joke and i believe religion deserves more respect than these ppl are giving.
    As for hama hama kan.... these ppl dont know what the hell they are talking about. seriously! do they expect us women to sit around when they preach about all what a woman is good for is to give into them when ever they want. and jaarias!!! these ment should be ashamed of themselves! bloody pydophiles! they should be arrested,,, harrasing young girls in the name of religion. shame shame! and when some ngo tries to correct this, we should not shout and discredit them. we should join hand and help them.

  29. culture, politics and religion should be separated to prosper as nation otherwise we ll be stuck in the 12th century. secularism is the answer

  30. The best way know how Dhivehi a person is by looking at Thaana handwriting. Its beautiful and artistic.

    Another Dhivehi activity include kids reciting Quran after Magrib prayer.

    But do you think our so called 'modern parents' could come home to recite Quran for their kids... But for sure, if it is Bodu Beru, they can dance..

  31. "On the other hand, almost every human being on Earth uses Arabic numerals as the de facto standard."

    Yaamyn, the term "Arabic numerals" as it is applies to the current international numbering standard is a misnomer. The term was coined in Mediaeval Europe to distinguish the system from what was then current in Europe, namely Roman numerals. The Arabs plagiarised it from the Indians. A bit of lateral thinking would make this obvious. The Arabs write from right to left; why then would they invent a numbering system that goes from left to right?

  32. PS: I used "Arabic numerals" in the context of the Indian numerals used by Arabs when writing in the Arabic script. Other languages that use the Arabic script such as Farsi, Urdu and Pashto also use the same numerals, with the exception of the number 4, which is written slightly different from how the Arabs write it.

  33. Hmmm... I was also wondering what the Arabic "3" is doing in 39... can someone explain?

  34. Just an observation. The term 'culture' is used synonymously to refer to traditions.

    Culture is fluid and dynamic. Maldivian culture today involves spending inordinate amounts of time at coffees, chain-smoking, participating in political rallies, the occasional Koththu Roshi, bad financial management, skinny jeans for men, burqas for women etc. etc.

    Although the above list may seem a bit negative the point is that the perennial lamentation of the loss of our culture is an inaccurate statement. Our culture is very vibrant and coins new terms for our vernacular every day. And also reintroduces terms that went out of use. E.g.:- "Heskiyaafa", "habeys" etc.

    Traditions the other hand - which also is somewhat dynamic as politicians, misguided pseudo-intellectuals and others can redefine and reinvent our history to their liking - is somewhat more rigid. Boduberu and a lot of other activities described above is traditional. And the reference to a cultural heritage is more appropriate.

    I cautiously applaud this effort and if indeed Majid has a hand in this I respect him as a chronicler and historian. However, I hope his deep and anachronistic resentment of Islam and its introduction to the Maldivian soil will, I hope, be tempered with more pragmatism and a true commitment to the resurgence of an interest in our history and traditions.

  35. Thanks Majid. I was also referring to the common number system referred to as 'Arabic numerals'.

    DRP thugs, hamza :

    Am I the only one who thinks it's rather odd that Majid would be giving his suggestions/criticisms of his own organization here on Minivan?


    I find the Maldives royal family website to be a treasure house of information. It certainly helped me discover a lot about our traditions and history.

  36. why all the negative energy. think positive and let us not be so divided. be tolerant and move on for prosperity than destruction. not everything should e so rebelled against, give space and learn than speculate or accuse

  37. it is culture that 39 is trying to revive. is arabic numerals, arabic alphabet, arabic names and words not a part of our age old culture? thos of you who are fearful - very appropriately too - of the growing extremism in this country, it was not brought by these little things from a very quaint culture we maldivians seem to be leaving behind. i see no problem in the arabic 3 being there. i am a so-called modern day mother and i do encourage the recital of qur'an after maghrib prayers. this is only my children and i like it that way. i allow my daughters to wear unveiled clothing and dance to whatever music they like, because i see no problem with it. i would also like for my children to grow up trusting their neighbours, understanding the unity of a nation, tasting the delicacies that our great-grandmothers cooked, learning what a raivaru is and so on and so forth. why does anyone need to politicise this possibility? does everything everyone does have to be against something? NO. some of you people need to look at things more positively and stop being so paranoid for heavens sake. i say again, good luck 39. God Speed!


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