Festivals of the Maldives
Renowned for islands of enchanting beauty, unimaginable diving and snorkelling sites, and luxury overwater villas, the Maldives actually has even more to offer travellers from around the world.
The tropical island nation has previously been through some turbulent times and had quite a rich mix of rulers and different cultural and religious influences over its long history. This makes the Maldives a charming destination filled with intriguing stories and a rich cultural heritage for visitors to discover.
1. National Day of the Maldives
Officially known as Qaumee Dhuvas, the National Day of the Maldives is observed in celebration of the 16th-century triumph of Maldivian hero, Muhammad Thakurufaanu who, along with his troops, regained Male in 1573 and abolished the 15-year colonial rule under Portugal.
According to the Islamic calendar, the National Day of the Maldives falls on the first day of the month of Rabee-ul-Awwal, which is the beginning of spring. The date of National Day changes every year based on the position of the moon.
Military marches, celebratory speeches, and flag-raising ceremonies are held across the country. Spectacular firework displays may be spotted in some places.
2. Independence Day of the Maldives 26th July
Independence Day is a truly significant day for Maldivians. It is celebrated on 26th July as the Maldives received complete freedom from the British on 26th July 1965. The Maldives was colonised by Britain in 1887 and later became a British Protectorate.
Visitors are most welcome to join in with the locals to celebrate Independence Day. The vibrant festivities include numerous processions, and performances from civil servants, the general public, and school students.
3. Republic Day -11th November
If you believe in People Power and have a fondness for sweets, then the Republic Day of the Maldives is one of the best festive days for you.
The Maldives celebrates Republic Day on 11th November. Even though it is not as significant as Independence Day, Republic Day is still considered an eventful time, commemorating the change from a constitutional monarchy to a republican form of government in 1968.
Celebration of Republic Day showcases vivid and colourful parades and performances on the streets of Male. And if you have a sweet tooth, it’s a wonderful time to try some special Republic Day treats like huni hakuru folhi, coconut cake, bodibaiy (a super-sweet rice snack, and masroshi) a fish-stuffed pancake.
4. Eid Ul Adha
Eid Ul Adha is one of the major religious festivals for Maldivians. It may be known by different names such as the Festival of Sacrifice, Eid-e Qorban, Qurbani Eid, and many more. It is celebrated on the tenth day of Thul Hijjah, the 12th and final month of the Islamic calendar. Considered the most important feast of the Muslim calendar, the three-day festival is celebrated by Muslims all over the world to mark the willingness to sacrifice of the Prophet Abraham to God.
In the Maldives the festival is locally known as Bodu Eid. Locals gather across the islands to catch large fish called bodu using woven palm leaves. Bodu Eid is based on the ancient belief that a -giant fish and ghosts emerged from the ocean. With the help of a holy man, the villagers were able to catch the enormous fish despite great difficulties. Malli Neshun, a ghost dance, is also performed by locals who paint their faces and dress up as ghosts.
5. The Prophet's Birthday
As one of the most beloved and well-known Maldivian festivals, the Prophet's Birthday is the must-witness event of this archipelago paradise.
The birthday of the founder of the Islamic Faith, the Prophet Muhammad, is in the month of Rabee-ul-Awwal, which is the third month of the lunar calendar. Charitable actions are observed as food and money are donated to the underprivileged.