The rhythmic beat of traditional Maldivian music is one that continues to pulsate through our shores and our hearts. The drum and bass, a constant refrain, entices listeners to the beat of an ancient culture. Visitors to our tropical paradise can immerse themselves in the authentic island experience by taking in the vibrant and energetic performances of traditional Maldivian dance and music.
Let us take you through a journey in history and time, to the world of traditional Maldivian performance arts, venerated to this day and presented by locals during special occasions.
BoduBeru; Rhythmic Beats That Thrived Through Our Ancestry
BoduBeru is the most beloved of the Maldives' musical traditions. This rhythmic performance brings together men and women in a celebration of sound. The BoduBeru group of each island is a source of immense pride for their community, performing at all important functions, celebrations, and festivals. In tourist resorts, visitors are often treated to the sight of performers dancing with great energy, accompanied by the beat of several coconut-wood drums and percussion instruments.
The drums used in this performance, eponymously called BoduBeru, are large drums made of coconut tree trunks and goat skin. In the past, drum heads were made from manta ray skin, but this was discontinued when mantas received protected status from the Maldives government. During a BoduBeru performance, a group of approximately 20 people take part, including three drummers and a lead vocalist.
Today BoduBeru is an essential part of welcoming tourists to the Maldives, with many resorts putting on displays of this performance to welcome visitors to the Maldives, and to their property, in style.
Thaara Jehun: Perfect Harmony of Drums and Dance
Thaara Jehun can be described as the Maldivian version of tambourines. The Thaara Jehun musical performance seen in Maldives is said to have originated from the Middle East. The performance includes about 22 men arranged in two rows, singing and beating drums, while others dance in time to the music. It is a very special form of entertainment, reserved for national events and celebratory occasions.
Bandiyaa Jehun: Unique Expression of Grace and Elegance
Bandiyaa Jehun is a form of dance performed by young women. The women, arranged in two lines facing each other, sing and dance while tapping metal pots with their fingertips to the rhythm. This traditional performance is a beautiful sight, showcasing the grace and beauty of the young women of the Maldives dressed in traditional garb.
All women Bandiyaa groups used to perform in cultural ceremonies, events, and more. Today, it is a dying form of art which is being revived more and more due to tourism, often held for the benefit of visitors during special events.
Dhandi Jehun: Reflection of The Lively Maldivian Spirit
Dhandi Jehun is another popular form of entertainment, performed throughout the country to celebrate festivities such as Eid. The rhythm of the drums and the joyous dance is a reflection of the lively spirit of the Maldives and its people.
The Dhandi Jehun folk dance of the Maldives is performed in a style that differs from island to island, with some performances featuring up to 30 men. With roots tracing back all the way to the Malik (Minicoy Islands), the performance includes a lead singer who sings traditional “Thaara” or “Unbaa” songs, while the remaining performers sing in harmony and dance to the beat. In the dance, each participant holds sticks referred to as Dhandi and strikes them against the sticks of the dancer across from them while moving.
For those seeking to experience the true essence of the Maldives, make sure to catch one of these traditional music performances. The drum, the bass, and the energy of the dancers will take you on a journey of transcendent island rhythms and transport you to a world that is uniquely Maldivian.