Gaa Odi Lava

The Maldives

Gaa Odi Lava

Gaa Odi Lava is a music and dance which expresses the satisfaction by a group of people on completion of a task involving hard manual work. Some say Gaa Odi Lava was first sung during the reign of Sultan Mohamed Imadudeen I (1620-1648AD). In his effort to defend Male', he wanted to build a break water around the island. For this purpose he divided the work force to various "odi" or vessels, for carrying coral stones from the many reefs. Upon completion of the task, workmen from each "odi" paid a ceremonial visit to the Sultan, singing songs to express their happiness. And hence Gaa (stones) Odi (vessels) was born.

In the time of Sultans, whenever a job ordered by a Sultan was completed, the workers involved would walk to the ground in front of the royal palace, in a special dance called "Dhigu magu negun". In this type of walking, the dancers each carry a special stick and walk in two rows while singing and dancing. Once in front of the palace, the songs gradually increase in tempo until the whole team forms a ring around a special container, still continuing the dance and singing. Inside the container are gifts for the dancers, given by the Sultan. The taking away of the container is called "Dhafi Negun" which is also the motive of dancing and singing. In the olden days, the songs sung in Gaa Odi Lava were in Arabic.

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