Kadhaa Maali

The Maldives

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Kadhaa Maali

This dance, of which the origin is unknown and dates back a few centuries, survives only in Kulhudhuffushi in south Thiladhunmathi Atoll. The performance is initiated by the beating of a number of drums and a "Kadhaa", an instrument made up of a copper plate and a copper rod.

With the music which is emanated from the beating of the drums and the Kadhaa, a large number of people usually about 30 men, dressed in different postures and costumes, take part in the dance. The costumes depict different types of evil spirits and ghosts. These evil spirits or ghosts are referred to as "Maali".

The dance is associated with the traditional congregation of the elders of the island who practise a late night walk around the island to ward off the evil spirits believed to be associated with terrible sickness and epidemics prevalent in the island community. The midnight walking usually begins after the late evening prayer, would continue for three consecutive nights and on the third night as to mark the end of the working the island community will engage in different types of music and dancing. This is a prelude to Kadhaamaali which is the final and the major event of the night.

While Kadhaamaali is being performed, people of different trades will come to the venue on a group by group basis bringing along with them their instruments, displaying their skill and craftsmanship in the form of a dance. Once their performance is over they would simply go leaving the Kadhaamaali dancers who would continue dancing until it was all over by about midnight.

At present Kadhaamaali is performed only during festivals. But, even now in times of terrible sickness the dance is still performed after the "three night walking".

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