Kun Faya Kun – “Be! And it is”

One day a man set out on a pilgrimage, to find Allah Almighty.

He walked barefoot from his land to Mecca, just to “meet” Allah in Kaaba. But despite the prayers and pilgrimage he performed he never “met” Allah. With a sunken heart he returned to his land, consoling himself to think that Allah only resides inside the Kaaba – where no ordinary human being is allowed to enter.

After many years the man set out on a journey into a desert, to find a hidden treasure. But before he could find the treasure, a fierce sandstorm caught up with him and he was lost. After days and days of wandering — in search of water to quench his thirst — he finally came upon a small, almost dried up well. He drew a hand-cup of water and brought it to his lips only to realize that, what he has been looking for all his life was in that handful of water drawn from a small well. In joy he cried; “Alhamdhulillaah!”

He finally “met” Allah — in the most unlikely of place.

..

In Holy Quran Allah mentions that when he intends something to happen, he only gives his command: “Kun Faya Kun”, “Be! And it is.”

This was my story when I had gone to to Haa Alif Atoll Ihavandhoo, on a project to document the Island’s Old coral stone mosque. The beautiful Island, its old coral stone mosque, vast cemetery, revered mausoleum, peaceful roads, intriguing vernacular buildings, most humble and beautiful people — they all touched my heart and my life.

The most beautiful moment of my entire life was bestowed upon me by Allah, on this Island. During the early hours of dawn, after a long night’s work I walked back home alone on the empty roads of the Island — with a wondrously magical song “Kun Faya Kun” playing on my ipod.

Strangely this “hindi” song and its words cleansed my soul with the graceful light of Almighty Allah and guided my heart to Him, like that of a swirling Sufi Dervish’s in the trance of a Sema.

Presented here is a compilation, an Odyssey of every little blessing that touched my heart and “brought meaning to my life.” I thank Maldives Department of  Heritage and the wonderful colleagues who accompanied me on this memorable trip.

Please take a while to “know” the meaning of the song here.

.

A humble tribute to beautiful strangers – “Buru Maama”

 

Strangers, are the most beautiful friends we come across.

During my journeys I have had the blessing of meeting some of the most beautiful souls I have ever come across in life. Their smiles, words, touch and most importantly blessings are what help me come alive during trying times. In the middle of a “low on life” moment, so unexpectedly one would call and say “handhaanvegen hama haalu balailan gulhaalee” ; calling up just to say a simple hello as my thoughts crossed their minds.

Those beautiful souls are what make me “what I am”. Their blessed love is what makes me the person I am; humbled!

Today I have decided to make a humble tribute to all those beautifully beautiful “strangers”.  Each month I wish to give a piece of my heart, to express my gratitude and love for the little things they have done for me….  from squeezing my hands, to offering me a cup of tea…. from reminding me to “balaigen hingan” at night, to showing me the way when I am lost.

I give each a piece of my soul!

“Buru Maama” is what I call her.

At daybreak she would come out from her home and sit on a “buru”, a concrete circular platform built under a shady tree on the “bodu magu” main road. Just a couple of steps from her place, right opposite her home is “her real place” “Buru”; where she truly belonged.  From dawn to dusk and long into the night she would sit there, watching the world go by — changing its colors and hues.

There she would sit in her vivid “dhivehi libaas and kandiki” – an old traditional dress worn by elderly women – often with her contrasting “burugaa” head veil, making it almost impossible not to spot her from the far end of the road.

During my stay at Hanimaadhoo, my meals were arranged at a house of a kind friend.  Each day I cross “buru mama” at least eight times – on my way to and from, after four meals of the day – and each time I would call out “maamaa, kihineh?” making it the most spoken words during my fifteen days trip.

But the most memorable were hot sultry afternoons when I would simply go, sit by her and her other “buddies” who regularly joined her on “her buru”. Listening to them talk, laugh and even occasionally gossip about their friends were blissful moments I brought back home with me.

On the day I was to leave the island, I went looking for her, hoping to offer her a gift and bid farewell. But before I could reach her, she walked away and disappeared into her house, leaving me both surprised and confused.

On my way back from my last meal, suddenly she dashed out of her house and called out to me. There she was with a bag full of “kunnaaru”, stone apples, saying that she had got them just for me.  A face, a smile, a soul I would never forget!

I have had the opportunity to visit Hanimaadhoo last year again (2011). This time my beloved “buru mama” was nowhere to be seen. Not on the buru or in front of her house. So at my request a dear friend took me to “buru maama’s” house. I was told that she was too frail and weak to talk or even recognize faces. But whether she did or not, I was determined to see her’s.

As I entered an empty “fenda” (foyer) with a bed at the far end, there on it lay my loving “buru mama”; weak and frail. I held her hand and asked if she recognizes me. She looked at me for a long moment and nodded with a teary eye and a struggling smile. No words were spoken. None were needed. Our hearts spoke….. And someday when I visit the beautiful Island again, perhaps our souls would speak too.


.

.

our very own Dhivehi names; borrowed and owned 

Khadheejaa  –  Kaiyydha

Zuleikha  –  Dhaleyka

Yoosuf  –  Yoosubu

Ahmed  –  Ahammadhu

Fathimath  –  Faathuma

Adham  –  Aadhanu

Mariyam  –  Mariyambu

Aiminath  –  Aaemina

Raninge’ Izzath; prestige of a Queen

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

The King

“Next day as daylight hit the ground, Moslems in the island said they should search for the body of the fallen king. They went to the reef and turned over the bodies of the infidels until they found Ali Rasgefaanu and the toddy man. They were lying away from the others where the waves were forming a sandbank. On that day, the 17th of Shaubaan, the two bodies were buried where they had fallen and the people raised a tomb there as well and reinforced it with a circle of large rocks.”  – from the story of Bodu Takurufan (as told by the famous Buraara Mohamed Fulhu and written by Al-hajj Ibrahim Ibn Ismail Feeboa) 

In time these rocks laid out in the sea became a memorial or “ziyaaraiyy”, a highly revered “heavenly” spot. After 453 years King Sultan Ali IV – crowned in the Dhivehi language as Siree Adha Siyaaka Kaththiri Maharadun – commonly known among Maldivians as Ali Rasgefaanu, still rests peacefully with his loyal companion “toddy man” by his side him.

King Sultan Ali IV memorial or commonly known as Ali Rasgefaanu Ziyaaraiyy; the king and the "toddy man" rests side by side. location: kaafu male' (2012). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

Every little grain of sand, every tiny rustling leaf, every beam of ray cast from the lantern that guards his grave, witness the glory of this “sleeping” King. Plaques with poetry written on the walls of Ali Rangefaanu Ziyaaraiyy, reflects the love of the people towards this brave King.

plaques on the walls of Ali Rasgefaanu Ziyaaraiyy with praiseful words and poetic verses about his bravery. location: male'. photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

Ali Ragefaanu reigned as a Sultan from 1557 to 1558 until the Portuguese attacked and captured Maldives to rule for over 15 years under their Captain Andhiri-Andhirin. It was believed that behind the notorious attempts of the Portuguese was Sultan Hassan IX, later known as Don Manoel who renounced Islam and fled to Cochin where he joined the Portuguese and converted to Catholicism. Don Manoel, was King Ali’s wife’s nephew.

On the 1st of Shaaban 965 AH Ali Rasgefaanu was martyred by the Portuguese in a battle that he fought courageously, alongside his Chief minister and a Paige, long after his troops deserted him.

Indeed our Sultan deserves the honor and the homage bestowed upon him for centuries through “Shaheedhunge Dhuvas” or Martyrs Day, celebrated as a National Holiday all over Maldives.

King Sultan Ali IV memorial, commonly known as Ali Rasgefaanu Ziyaaraiyy. location: kaafu male' (2012). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

The Queen

‘Viyazoaru, arrange the tax collection as soon as possible,’ said Andhiri-Andhirin.

‘How am I going to live there without being married to someone?’ mentioned the Viyazoaru.

‘Get married as soon as you can and then hurry to do the tax collecting,’ ordered the king.

Viyazoaru dressed himself well and walked around the island every morning and afternoon in search of a woman to marry. After eight or nine days, he decided to marry king Ali’s widow, Kaba Aisa Rani Kilgefan. He left Male’ with his new wife and king Ali’s daughter Siti Mava Rani Kilegefan, and sailed as atoll chief to the northern atolls. Their vessel left through Kagi Channel, crossing Kashidhoo channel and stopping at the islands of Faadhippolhu looking for the shape of a harbour that his wife in Goa had described to him…. He checked all the islands and finally found an island with the right harbour. It was Baarah. There he stopped with his new wife, and established himself as the tax collector.” — from the story of Bodu Takurufan (as told by the famous Buraara Mohamed Fulhu and written by Al-hajj Ibrahim Ibn Ismail Feeboa) 

Written down in Maldives history as Viyazoaru (Viador) was a Portuguese native, employed by Andhiri-Andhirin. After the invasion Viyazoaru was “rewarded” the post of tax collector to the Northern Atolls of the Maldives.

Before residing in Haa Alif Atoll Baarah he decided to take with him, as his wife, none other but the widowed Queen of Sultan Ali; Aysha Rani Kilege. The same Queen, whose nephew Don Manoel was behind the murder of her husband, the King.

“Haa Alif Baarah” is one of the most unique Islands in the Maldives with many significant characteristics to it. The Island itself is shaped as the letter “Baa” in Dhivehi script “Thaana”. It’s beautiful people having physical features rarely seen anywhere else in Maldives, joyfully continue their lives in “white smiles”, honey-colored eyes and brownish hair; not knowing the worth of the Queen who “sleeps” among them. A queen known to them as their very own Kanba Aysha.

a beautiful young girl from "baarah" . the light skin and honey-colored eyes are unique physical features most locals of the island possess. location: haa alif baarah (2010). photography: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

a small boy from "baarah". the light skin, brownish hair and honey-colored eyes are unique physical features most locals of the island have. location: haa alif baarah (2008). photography: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
..
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
break.

The vast cemetery of “Baarah” is a peaceful and scenic place with huge “gulsampa gas” temple flower trees – a common sight in dated cemeteries – and a gem of an old coral stone mosque surrounded by carved tombstones. The locals believe that both Portuguese infidels are buried here alongside the Muslim islanders.

cemetery of "baarah". huge and beautiful temple flower trees "gulsampa gas" surrounds the whole compound. location: haa alif baarah (2008). photography: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

old coral stone mosque dating way back into the 16th century. location: haa alif baarah (2010). photography: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

However none of this would matter, when one come across the Queen lying alongside this historical site. In a “Bisthaanu” – a low-lying wall covering the grave – Queen Aysha Rani Kilege rests silently without a tombstone. A Queen who once lived her life in “Ganduvaru therey” Royal palaces, earning the respect of her people. Today she “sleeps” forgotten and “tossed away” on the pathway to a cemetery of an Island that her latter husband ruled almost like a king.

In December 2008 the grave of Aysha Rani Kilege had only a tarnished wooden board lying on the ground beside it, with her name written on it in faded letters. Covered in coarse white sand – turned dusty by the weather – her grave was of little notice to the visitors who pay their respect to the great cemetery and mosque. Yet, one or two coins hiding halfway under the sand proved that some people believed in her “saintliness” and power to fulfill “nadhuru”; a vow to perform a good deed, on condition that something pleasant happens.

grave of former Queen Aysha Rani Kilege, locally known as Kanba Aysha. location: haa alif baarah (2008). photography: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

a tarnished wooden board saying "Kanba aysha mahaana" tomb of Kanba aysha. here lies former Queen Aysha Rani Kilege who was once married to Ali Rasgefaanu. location: haa alif baarah (2008). photography: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

In November 2010 Aysha Rani Kilege “Mahaana” was merely a forgotten memory. Without the “blotted piece of wood” which had her last identity on, she neither had white sand nor rusted coins, but weeds all over her grave. This neglected Queen might never be found again; neither on the pages of history nor in the hearts of her people.

grave of former Queen Aysha Rani Kilege, locally known as Kanba Aysha (formerly married to King Ali Rasgefaanu) seen in a state of negligence. location: haa alif baarah (2010). photography: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

Aysha Rani Kilege, a “used” Queen “sleeps” forgotten by all except one simple woman sympathizing and trying to understand the life of another woman who was offered to a conspirator as a “reward” for killing her husband; a husband who “sleeps” peacefully surrounded by all the glory a mighty King could ever have… while his once beloved queen – born and raised in the Male’ – lies buried under the soil of a far away “beerattehi”  foreigner land.

“Baarah”, the Island of Maldives first and only Beauty Queen “Reetheege Raani” Ramla, lies our very own beloved Queen Aysha Rani Kilege; Forgotten and Abandoned!

grave of former Queen Aysha Rani Kilege who was the wife of Ali Rasgefaanu when he was martyred by the Portuguese in 1558. location: haa alif baarah (2008). photography: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

Shaviyani; reflection of a true Maldivian

We Maldives need to evolve! “Shaviyani” is what we need to be.

I have heard many stories about men who leave their beloved homes, to cross vast deserts, deep oceans and high mountains in search of great treasures; only to find it at the heart of their own homes. 

We, Maldivian are leaving our beloved “humanity” and following shades of colors, tastes of supremacy and songs of creed. Perhaps one day we will end up realizing that what we needed to be was only within ourselves. 

We, Maldivians need to evolve! “Shaviyani” is what we need to be.

“Shaviyani”, the second letter in Dhivehi script “Thaana” is the finest example of a True Maldivian.

“Shaviyani” a 45 degrees slanted duplicate of the Arabic numeral 2,    , adopted into the present day script “Thaana” is a letter with a one-off personality. I have always called letter “Shaviyani” “the king” of our alphabet.

No words or sentences begin with the mighty letter “Shaviyani”. However like a king who marches through to join his knights, only to make his army stronger, “Shaviyani” strengthen our rich language when taken amid other letters.

“Shaviyani” plays a vital role in completing our fine language “Dhivehi” and it’s owners “Dhivehin”. It is a fine depiction of Team work and “self-utilization”; a fine reflection of what we Maldivian had been in the past.

In troubled waters, in harsh winds Maldivians have always stood together. In battles that saved our independence, religion and identities, our ancestors each became a “Shaviyani” to enforced our unity.

We Maldives need to evolve! “Shaviyani” is what we need to be.

Kreativ Blogger Award; a gift by a wonderful blogger

 

Amira is a gem of a blogger! She is loved, admired and respected in the “world of bloggers”. It is strange how invisible ties binds us to strangers. Amira and I have threads running between our words and thoughts expressed on our blogs.  I wish to convey my heartfelt gratitude to her, for giving out this beautiful Kreativ Blogger Award to me, and I Congratulate her on this.

The rules of the award is that I share 10 things about myself with the readers; which is certainly the most difficult thing I will be ever be asked to do since I am too simple a person to have things of much fascination to others. However, I shall carry my obligations… openly and lovingly… and try drizzle “a few drops from this dried-up cloud”.

1. I have Silent Fingers, that only speaks the language of my soul.

2. I am A-Sexual; until I crave fine skin.

3. As a little child I remember poking my tongue into the holes of “uvafaaru” and licking the “himun uva”, (no wonder why I love “thelhigaa faaru”).

4. I paint “only in color red” when I am depressed.

5. I cannot go out of home without my colorful large necklaces. For me it would be like roaming half naked, and the time hasn’t come for that, yet.

6. My hands have a weakness for sensual things. If something reaches my heart through my eyes, I am “obliged” to feel them on my hands too.

7. One fine day, Inshallah, I shall leave everything behind in Male’ and go settle in a remote island; have a dimly lit small house with lots of laughing neighbors around.

8. My words on my life: “some trees they bear fruits, some threes flowers.. and some trees are simply there to beautify the gardens”.

9. I am a Lioness with a “ruby red” soul.

10. There is nothing I enjoy most than spending rainy afternoons, silent nights, calm dawns and lazy mornings with myself and a few scented candles — listening to Urdu Ghazals. Yes, I am my lover!

Now that I have “openly and lovingly” shared 10 things about myself, I would like to give out the award to few others, whom I wish to know a little better.

Let me humbly give away the award to these wonderful bloggers:

Cheeky Sylph

Amira another 10 little things wouldn’ hurt, would it? ;)

Through my lens 

Hassan Live

Dua; a silent prayer for a stranger

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Early morning on December 18th 2008 while waiting for a plane to take me home from Haa Alif Hanimaadhoo Domestic Airport, I decided to get “acquainted” with the island. Whenever I rest foot on an Island there are three things I look for; old cemeteries, old mosques and old people.

Hiring a car wasn’t difficult at all as I had my “indispensable friend” with me. But this old cemetery became my first and last stop, where I saw that which changed my whole perception on life, forever!

The old cemetery of Haa Alif Hanimaadhoo. Here we see a "fresh" grave and further back a small "hinavaage" a small hut where burial services are conducted. location: haa alif hanimaadhoo (2008). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

This was a sight I knew I’d remember for the rest of my days; the grave of a freshly buried body. I was told by the driver that the deceased was buried after “fajr” prayer “fathis namaadhu”, only three to four hours afore we had reached there.

What filled my heart wasn’t simply seeing it, but the love it reflected on it. So much of love that I just had to pause for a while and say a humble prayer.

Covered in fine white sand, the “heavenly spot” came shaded under a “dholhi”; a white veil worn by women to perform prayers. In Maldivian custom, after burial the grave is covered with fine white sand and a few fistful of water sprinkled over it. However I have never seen or heard about covering the grave in this manner.

A grave of a person buried just few hours before the photo was taken. location: haa alif hanimaadhoo (2008). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

Without a tombstone – which would only be erected after 40 days – I couldn’t tell whether this was a man or a woman. All I knew was that it was of a stranger’s, who must have been surrounded by lots of loving people.

….. perhaps this was a woman; a mother, and the veil belonged to her….. or perhaps it was a man, with his loving wife’s veil covering him from harsh sunlight….

grave of a freshly buried body. the white cloth above is one that maldivian women wear as a veil before performing prayers. the cloth seen here is not a common sight in cemeteries. perhaps it is out of love, that the loved ones of the deceased wished to cover the grave from harsh sunlight. location: haa alif hanimaadhoo (2008). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

Could the freshly pressed handprints on the sand be that of a loving son’s, a feeble father’s or a cheerful brother’s…. or of a forgotten friend who came with a forgiving heart, to say his last goodbyes? However among it all there were trails of earthworm burrows running in every direction, reminding me of what we shall all return to one day, Dust.

fresh handprints are pressed onto the white sand as a last goodbye. at the same time traces of earthworm burrows are seen on top of the soil, running all over. location: haa alif hanimaadhoo (2008). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

Today, January 15th 2012, I wish to take a moment to say a prayer. A humble prayer said for a stranger whom I have never met. Yet whom I shall remember for the rest of my life.

“O Allah! May our lives be filled with those whose endless love and caring ‘handprints’ shine on our hearts and our graves forever. May your kindest blessings be with this soul who rests under the soil with which you have created us all. And may this soul be among the pious under the shades of “Jannat-ul-Firdhaws”. Amen!”

Maa-vadiyaa Koshaaru; resurrecting childhood fables

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Mamma is a storyteller. She has always been one, until she became her own stories. But that’s another story.

I was a spoiled child, obedient but spoiled. I didn’t know how to eat properly with my hands until I was ten years old. It wasn’t that I didn’t know; I simply never wanted to prove otherwise. So my beloved mother would always feed me before helping herself to it. And the best part of it comes only then… her “immortal” stories.

I would listen to the same tales over and over again, and she would never lose heart telling them over and over again. During meal-times, during shower time, bed-time anytime was a story time. However my favorite was the “morning fable” time.

The most beautiful moments of my childhood “visited” me during early morning hours, around the age of eight. I would sit on a little wooden swing hung from the huge branches of a breadfruit tree “banbukeyo gas” that sat in the vast compound of our home. Now, the tree wasn’t just another breadfruit-tree-with-a-swing. She was home to over a hundred pigeons. Their home was a wooden three-storey pigeon-house which stood under the shady leaves of our very own breadfruit-tree-with-a swing.

Oh, I was always a very busy little girl during those mornings. For every piece of bread dipped in hot tuna curry that Mamma puts in my mouth, I tear a “pinch” of previous night’s left over crusty “roshi.” And in between every other gulp I would whistle lightly so that the pigeons knew it was their turn to be fed by “little-mother-me”.

Having a curious little girl to feed and her ruthless long hair to plait, mamma often pauses in between two mouthfuls only to hear the word “mamma dhenoa (what next mother)?”

“findhan fulhaa bondan fulhaa vaahaka”, “maimeli dhaitha vaahaka”, “ranmann ranmann fullaa vaahaka”, “anga gadha mithuraa anga madu mithuru vaahaka”, “foolhu dhigu handi vaahaka”, “safaru kaiyydha vaahaka”, “maakunbe vaahak”, “vagu findhah badhuruva laigaiyy vaahaka”… these were all among her “best-sellers”.

However the best and my favorite by far is a story with the most cunning plot. A fable with a wit, humor and politics in it; Maavadi kaleyge yaa minikaa vaguge vaahaka”.

“Eh saharegga ulhunoa…..”, slowly the pigeons’ purrs would dissolve into her motherly voice.

Maavadi yaa Minikaavagu; here I have translated this amazing “thousand-morals-story” for those who are more patient with words and generous with imagination. What I am presenting in photos is an important part of this great story.

Since childhood my curiosity about the image of “what taught minikaa vagu a lesson” – Koshaaru – was left empty… until just two months ago in November 2011.

A “Koshaaru” is a small granary or storehouse found in some local Islands of the Maldives. Now nearly in extinction, a “koshaaru” serves many purposes in daily lives of the locals. Normally located separately at the back of the house compound these “small” structures for centuries were an important part of our vernacular architecture.

"koshaaru" or a small granary. these were used Maldivians to store fish, grain and sometimes other household items. location: laamu atoll fonadhoo (2011). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

As much as I may wish to believe our very own “koshaaru” to be an indigenous creation of the Maldives, the origin and purpose of granaries dates back to thousands of years B.C. In ancient times granaries were used in many countries to store grain and pottery.  The grains could be stored there for many years, maintaining its original quality.

During early times Maldivians earned their living through fishing and agriculture. And “koshaaru” played an indispensable role in fishermen’s communities. Unlike other countries Maldivians have generally had two types of “koshaaru”, which are “mas koshaaru” (fish granaries), “dharu koshaaaru” where firewood is stored for cooking purposes.

The early diet of Maldivians “dhivehin” mainly consisted of fish and cereals.  Namely millet “binbi”, maize “zuvaari”, barley “hima godhan” and more. These cereals were stored in our “granary koshaaru” in similar manners, for the longest period of time. Bruguiera cylindrica “kandoo”, another commonly used food in early days were harvested and kept in sacks for years before consumed. This is still practiced in some Islands of the Maldives where they are blessed with vast “kandoo faa” mangroves.

“Koshaaru” is made from locally available timber, most commonly with coconut palm wood “ruh vakaru”.  In its most authentic form, the timber panel boards are constructed without using screws or nails, but instead with wooden pegs and tongue and groove system, which is the same case in Maldivians well-known “bodu foshi” (a big box used to store clothes and other valuables.

The most intriguing feature of the “koshaaru” is its door. The panels can be dismantled by starting from the upper most board, so that one could reach the items inside even without fully “opening” it. The top most board or panel is the primal panel and the “koshaaru” could be locked only if this first piece is in its place.

a kind lady "mama" who was the owner of this "koshaaru" shows me how to open its door. location: laamu atoll fonadhoo (2011). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

a kind lady "mama" who was the owner of this "koshaaru" shows me how to open its door. each timber board has to be dismantled separately making way for an opening. location: laamu atoll fonadhoo (2011). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

a kind lady "mama" who was the owner of this "koshaaru" shows me how to open its door. each timber board has to be dismantled separately making way for an opening. even with few boards out one could reach inside easily. location: laamu atoll fonadhoo (2011). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

The lock on the “koshaaru” below reflects the creativity which our forefathers carried in them. Designed is the shape of a fish, most likely this one truly resembles a “mas koshaaru”; even though inside were oil lamps “bigaru”, wooden boxes and “seen thashi”; old porcelain-ware used extensively throughout Maldives.

The small chair like object “mas gondi” lying on the horizontal platform was used in early days to cut fish on it. This also gives a hint of a “mas koshaaru”.

padlock of a "koshaaru". it can only be locked when the top most timber board is put into its place. i was told by the owners that this one was an old "mas koshaaru" now being used for other storage purposes. location: laamu atoll fonadhoo (2011). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

an upside down "mas gonad" used to cut fish on it. location: laamu atoll fonadhoo (2011). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

“Koshaaru” was often built above the ground so as to keep the stored items away from mice and also from rain floods during heavy monsoon season “hulhangu moosun”.  The roof is designed in such a way that “natural air ventilation” is provided so that stored food could be maintained in good condition, safe from moisture and humidity.

“Koshaaru” and “bandahage” a storehouse; these are significant features of our vernacular architecture. It is necessary to ask oneself why and when these authentic Maldivian ways of living had gone into extinction. Can we afford to have our children read these “dhivehi” stories fifty years from now and feel alien to their own culture and heritage? Can we really afford to wait and watch our tangible and intangible heritage vanish like mists into the word “civilization?”

the proud owner of a "koshaaru" wondering about the future of her much-loved "koshaaru" location: laamu atoll fonadhoo (2011). photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

Thoacheh; echoes from a swing

for centuries swings "undhoali" have played an important role in maldivians' lives. they are often used by people to gather around for casual chats. location: haa alif baarah. photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

“maa nakathuga masverikan dhah dhuvahaku, bodu ashi mathee thibe muguraan garudhiya fodhakaa githi kandulaa kaalaigen, bolu oiyy foshaa gaimathee laigen, kani vamundhiya fulhi baththi aleega, nidhi dhuvas maa araamu thoacheh.” – sampa goathi bodu aadhanu

“fann thoshalin biyy jahaigen, mas kaashin bandu furaigen, fas kulhandhu hama noonkan gaboolu kollaigen, huri haalah shukuru koh, athiriyah gos avadhivegen, moodhu lonun fenvaraigen, maa miskithu dhaalayah araa hukuru kuri dhuvas maa hithah faseyha thoacheh” – raa hasanbeyyaage ali futhu soru

“baa kandikkakun hiyy hama jassaalaigen, muhh furaa alhaa kaashi theyo gaiga vashaigen, fenbathaa boakiraa kaalaigen, dhonveli mushakun dhaiyy ungulhaigen, bodu valhu dhoshah fen balaa gos, zuvaan kachoarunna mallava koffa ais, dhimaa endhah araa nidhi dhuvas maa ufaaveri thoacheh” – valu kaiyydhage medhu kanbulo

Finiburu on hot sultry afternoons

Tags

, , , , ,

I am often told that I think with my heart. But I have always felt that I do my “thinking” with my eyes, especially on my ventures to the islands.

During sultry afternoons when most prefer to stay indoors, I enjoy taking strolls around the narrow alleys of local islands. I absorb every little sight, every little sound and every little thought that obsessively follows it. Above all I cherish the old coral rubble walls “thelhigaa faaru” walking in opposite direction as I keep my pace and tread on like a lost wayward breeze.

With my fixed smile I walk on. Often I stop to catch a chat with women sitting on local recliners “jolifathi” with huge aluminum plates “dholangu” on their laps filled with rice “handoo”. For every word we exchange they would skillfully sway their palms in the grains and pick the “little odd ones” out; a sight that would take any woman of my age back into our childhood… when our mothers sat by old radios – humming and listening to hindi songs of Mohamed Rafi – while cleaning the ‘late-night-chore-rice’ “handoo hovun”.

Or I would share a laugh with elderly women wearing pretty traditional dresses “dhiguhedhun”, sitting under shady breadfruit trees and weaving thatch from coconut palm fronds “fangi viyun”.

skilled hands of an "artist" weaving thatch from coconut palms "fangi vinun". location: haa alif filladhoo. photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

Or I would sit beside and hold the wrinkled hands of every white haired “maama” sitting on cement platforms “simenthi ashi” outside their homes, watching the world go by.

beautiful hands of a pretty "maama". location: raa atoll meedhoo. photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

Or I would smile and say a brief hello to coy young girls sitting on small swings “undholi” hung from huge Portia Trees “hirundhu gas”. For a minute or two I do stop by, only to be fascinated by the skillfulness by which they shave the coconut fronds with a sharp knife, leaving only fresh bundles of eekle to sweep the main road “bodu magu” on Fridays.

a young woman shaving a coconut palm frond to make eekle. location: alif alif ihavandhoo. photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

Or I would pause and answer the curious questions thrown at me by groups of women sitting on mats making coir-rope. With red-stained lips gotten by continuous chewing of betel, often these beautiful souls would smile and ask to sit by them for a longer while. And hastier than the flow of our conversation, their hands would turn and twist the coconut husk fiber into fine strands of rope “roanu”.

skillful hands of a middle aged woman, making coir rope from coconut fibre. location: alif alif ihavandhoo. photography by: mariyam isha azeez {mariyamboo}

Indeed, during sultry afternoons when most prefer to stay indoors, I stroll around the narrow alleys of the islands. And after a day or two – to my delight – I will be lovingly sought after…. “the little woman who wears a huge ring, colorful necklaces and carries a large camera in her hand”.

"odd it may seem, but i often see my world upside down". location: earth (2011). photography by: muja (sumuvul-gareeb)