Bodu Beru is the most popular form of music and dance in the country,
enjoyed by the young and the old, men and women. There is a Bodu Beru
troupe in almost every inhabited island and is regularly played at
special functions and festivalss. The musical instruments used in Bodu
Beru consist of three or four drums and a variety of percussion
instruments. The drums are made from hollowed coconut wood and covered
on both ends with manta ray skin or goat hide. A lead singer chants
the lyrics and a chorus of 10 to 15 follows as they clap to the beat
of the drums. The rhythm build as the song continues until it reaches
a frenzied crescendo.
As the rhythm picks up, dancers come out from amongst the troupe
swaying to the rhythm. As the beat becomes faster the dancers leap and
jerk to the beat as if in a trance. Onlookers join in the clapping and
dancing. Old men, suddenly catch a stray rhythm and throw themselves
into the arena. To wild applause from the crowd they gyrate and
grimace in their dance, passing on to the young what they have learnt
from their forefathers. According to some historians Bodu Beru was
introduced to the country in the early 19th century by African slaves.
During the reign of Mueenuddeen I these slaves were liberated and sent
to Feridhoo in Ari Atoll. It is believed that bodu beru spread out
from there to become one of the most popular forms of entertainment in
Thaara also holds a special place in local entertainment. Two lines of
men attired in white sit on the ground and sing beating hand drums
while others dance between them. Thaara is believed to have been
introduced from the Middle East in the seventeenth century. Today
Thaara is only played at national events.
Dhandijehun is another form of entertainment, which is popular
throughout the country. This is mostly performed to celebrate festive
events such as Eid and other national occasions.
Bandiyaa Jehun is a more popular form of dance performed by young
women. The women carrying metal water pots stand in two lines facing
each. They sing and dance to melodious tunes while taping the rhythm
on the pots with rings worn on the fingers. Although western pop and
Indian music is quite popular today, traditional forms of music and
song that have been passed down to us by our ancestors survive.
Raivaru, farihi and bandhi are all unique styles of singing that are
still practiced by people around the country.