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It is believed that Aryan immigrants from the Indian subcontinent established permanent settlements around 500 BC.
PTI | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON FEB 01, 2006 08:00 PM IST
People of Maldives: The origins of the Maldivians are lost in history. Archaeological finds indicate that the islands were inhabited as early as 1500 BC, and there are tales of a legendary people called the Redin, who may have been among the earliest of explorers.It is believed that Aryan immigrants from the Indian subcontinent established permanent settlements around 500 BC. The early Maldivians were probably Buddhists or Hindus migrating from the Indian subcontinent.Today, Maldives is perhaps the only country with a hundred per cent Sunni Muslim population. Islam was introduced around AD 800, and the moderate form practised in Maldives has remained virtually unchanged.The main tribes are Singhalese, Dravidian, Arab and African. No other religion, except Islam, is permitted. Several ancient beliefs still survive; for example, islanders fear ?jinn's-evil spirits that come from the sea, land and sky?.These are blamed for everything that cannot be explained by religion or science. Dhivehi, an indigenous language, is spoken only in the Maldives. The script is called "Thaana." English is the main language taught at schools. Most people in Male and tourist resorts speak English.Flag of Maldives: The flag of Maldives is red with a large green rectangle in the centre bearing a vertical white crescent; the closed side of the crescent is on the hoist side of the flag.Arts, culture and music of Maldives: The term bodu beru means a big drum, and lends its name to the famous music and dance form of Maldives. Tourist resorts organise performances of this dance for a local culture night, and it can be quite sophisticated and gripping.There are four to six drummers in a group, and the hum has distinct African influences. Contemporary local rock bands often perform at resorts where they do credible covers of the usual old favourites. Performing for a local audience, they may incorporate elements of bodu beru in their music, with lots of percussion and extended drum solos.Though performances of traditional music and dance are not daily events, the Dhivehi culture is strong and adaptive despite various foreign influences, ranging from Hindi movies and Oriental martial arts, to Michael Jackson and Muslim fundamentalism. Western fashions, pop music and videos are visible in the capital, but on public occasions, the celebrations always have a distinctly Maldivian touch.Women and dress: In fact women play a major role in society - not surprising considering the fact men spend the whole day out at sea fishing. Many of the traditions are strongly related to the seas and the fact that life is dependent on the seas around. Dress is generally casual. T-shirts and cotton clothing are most suitable. In Male, the capital island and other inhabited islands, it is recommended that women wear modest clothing without baring too much.Food: Traditional food, basically fish, used as the main component has been influenced from the Indian subcontinent. Garudhya (tuna soup), spicy curry and rice are the stable food of most of the population. Most other dishes such as western meals like pasta are normally modified with a flavour of tuna in it when prepared for local consumption. Other meats and chicken are normally eaten in special occasions.
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