Ramadan in the Maldives
May 02 2019
May 02 2019
With unbeatable natural surrounds, exclusive, high-end resorts situated on their own islands and unparalleled experiences in the heart of paradise, it’s not difficult to understand why the Maldives is such a highly - coveted holiday destination. But, unbeknownst to many, this destination’s appeal is not limited to its sparkling cyan waters and smooth, white beaches. It’s a country with an incredible history, a fascinating culture and wonderful people, who observe the Muslim faith.
There’s no doubt that a trip to the Maldives will be memorable. But if you would like a novel and immersive experience of this dazzling destination, then it would be a good idea to book your trip here to coincide with one of the country’s festivals or religious celebrations. One of the most important Muslim observances takes place over the month of Ramadan, which, contrary to popular belief, is actually a fabulous time to experience the Maldives.
If you would like to travel over this auspicious month, here’s what to expect during, and what you need to know about, Ramadan in the Maldives:
Ramadan is observed the world over
Ramadan, also known as Ramadhan or Ramzan, takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar every year. It is observed around the world by Muslims to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad (which is said to have happened specifically in the last third of Ramadan), in line with their religious beliefs. It is a month of fasting, abstinence and prayer and is a time for reflection, personal and spiritual growth and a time to spend with family and loved ones.
Muslim adults are those most required to fast over this period with exceptions (such as pregnant ladies, those who are ill and children are not required to fast) as the Maldives is a deeply religious destination. This observance is deemed one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is, therefore, hugely important. Ramadan itself is considered the most sacred month of the year in the Islamic faith.
This year, Ramadan will technically begin on the evening of Sunday 5 May 2019 (along with the arrival of the crescent moon - or in actual fact, it only begins when the crescent moon is visible, so the actual date might differ slightly) and is set to end on the evening of Tuesday 4 June 2019. The beginning and end dates differ each year. The general rule is that it starts on the first evening of the crescent moon and ends 29/30 days later. The first and last day of Ramadan is observed as a public holiday in the Maldives. Eid al-Fitr (“the festival of breaking the fast”) marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next lunar month Shawwal.
Malé may function a little differently during this time
The capital city of the Maldives, Malé, serves as the bustling metropolitan heart of this magical country. It’s also home to important historical sites, incredible local restaurants and serves as the religious centre of the country which is why during Ramadan in the Maldives, it may function slightly differently to how it does normally. For example, because during Ramadan fasting lasts from sunrise to sunset, many of the restaurants may not open during the day and markets may be busier than normal towards the afternoon. Ferry schedules may also differ during Ramadan, so be sure to do your research beforehand and liaise with your accommodation to help you with your routes. This may also be the case on some of the other local islands.
It’s vital during this holy month that as a tourist, you dress appropriately and respect the local customs - your dress should be modest and you need to remember that smoking, eating and drinking in public areas during Ramadan fasting hours is frowned upon.
It’s an exceptional time to sample some of the local foods and delicacies
One thing to know about Ramadan is that the hotels and hotel restaurants generally operate as per usual. In fact, if you visit the resort islands during Ramadan in the Maldives, you may not even notice that the holy month is being observed. While fasting very well might occur amongst the staff of the resorts, this won’t impact the guest experience; hotels and resorts typically function as usual, except that visitors are treated to some of the country’s unparalleled cultural foods and delicacies (which will be on offer in Malé as well) and opening hours may differ slightly, but guests will be informed of this.
Each evening, the fast will be broken with evening meals, and for resort guests, this could mean being offered delicacies which are not normally served, which include dates, Arabic sweets, and novel juice flavours such as apricot and rose. The resort restaurants may also offer special, seasonal iftar (the evening meal) menus to be shared family style or sensational Ramadan buffets. It’s truly a wonderful time to enjoy some of the country’s finest foods.
During Ramadan in the Maldives, hotel guests may also be given the option to enjoy the end of the fasting day with in-room service, where Turkish coffee, watermelon juice or buttermilk may be enjoyed while taking in the mesmerising night sky from the comfort of your room. Before sunrise each day, certain hotels may also offer a pre-dawn meal, also known as a suhoor.
It’s a fabulous time to witness cultural events and festivities
During Ramadan in the Maldives, numerous events and festivities take place celebrating the significant month. Hotels and resorts may have fire or belly dancing shows, concerts and live bands might be playing traditional music (you can also observe this in the streets in Malé).
It’s a truly exceptional time to visit the Maldives for authentic and immersive experiences that centre on culture, foods specific to Ramadan and joyous celebrations. What’s more, you get to enjoy all of this (and more) with some of the most sublime island backdrops in the world.