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'Call of the Sangu' cultural festival at Dusit Thani Maldives

By Sarah Harvey | Sunday, April 6, 2014 - 21:24

Luxury resort Dusit Thani Maldives is showcasing some of the fascinating and unique highlights of Maldivian culture with a special festival.

The Call of the Sangu Festival is named after the local name for the triton on conch shell. For generations, in every inhabited island, the katheeb (island chief) would call the islanders to gather by blowing the sangu . The sound would resonate throughout the island, alerting the people to gather at their special meeting place in anticipation of what is to come.

Using this as inspiration, Dusit Thani has arranged the special festival which will allow guests to experience Maldivian culture through the various art forms including visual and performance arts; fusing the traditional with the contemporary.

The festival opens on April 20th and will include live demonstrations of sand art by the renowned Maldivian artist Afu (Afzal Shaafiu). He uses sand to illustrate epic traditional Maldivian tales and folklore, as well as to shed light on the customs and traditions of the Maldives. Afu’s performances are accompanied by a live musician. He has exhibited locally in the National Art Gallery of Maldives and internationally in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, Zanzibar, Japan, and onboard the famed cruise liner ‘The World’.

Maldivian handicrafts are as diverse as the islands scattered throughout the archipelago. Many of these crafts are skills handed down through the generations. Today, many handicrafts are now sadly a disappearing part of the culture of the Maldives so efforts are being undertaken to revive the tradition. Three types of handicrafts; lacquer-work, jewellery made from coconut shells and ornamental dhoni (boat) sculpted from wood, will be produced before guests' eyes and made available for purchase.

A band called "The Maldivians" has been creating music for over a decade under the recording company Super Muzik Faktory. Consisting of a keyboard/synth player, a female vocalist and guitarist and bodu beru (traditional drumming) performers, “The Maldivians” play traditional and contemporary music with a touch of modern pop, latin, and an electronic elements. They perform at international music festivals and their fourth album, Mi Raaje (This is Maldives), is a hit both locally and internationally.

Shaaz Saeed is a music director, composer, and instructor. Holding the accomplishment of being the only recipient of the National Award twice in a year, he is the lacuna of professional service in the entertainment industry of the Maldives. He is also the visionary behind “The Maldivians” music band. Apart from his intriguing knack for story-telling through music, he is also the composer of Call of the Sangu Event Promo Video.

Live interactive painting performances by the Maldivian artist Mariyam Shany Ahmed (Manje) will also explore the world of fantasy and mythology at the event. Shany participated in the SAARC Artists’ Camp 2013 whereby she exhibited works in the National Art Gallery of the Maldives.

To round off the festival, a night celebrating contemporary Maldivian culture, led by Menimal (DJ Manal)  – a name synonymous with dance music in the Maldives - takes place on April 22nd. Menimal electrifies the local entertainment circuits with his unique mixes and has previously performed at the Ministry of Sound in London

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