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Maldives' biggest cultural festival a hit amongst tourists

By Sarah Harvey | Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 11:54

The Call of the Sangu festival at Dusit Thani Maldives was so sucessful with guests that a Maldivian cultural showcase will now become a permanent fixture of the resort.

The special celebration which took place at the luxury resort in Baa Atoll between April 20 and 22 cast the spotlight on traditional and contemporary Maldivian art and handicrafts on the biggest scale ever attempted to date in the Maldives.

The opening of the event was heralded by the blowing of a sangu (conch shell) and the cutting of the ribbon by Desmond Hatton, General Manager, Dusit Thani Maldives.

Lacquerwork artisans were joined by matt weavers, coir rop-makers, bodu beru (drumming) performers, contemporary artists and poets during the festival. The participants were posted at various locations around the resort throughout the day and guests were able to chat to them, learn more about their crafts and buy authentic souvenirs such as hand-made models of dhonis (wooden boats), lacquerwork vases (Baa Atoll is famous for lacquerwork) and coconut jewelery.

There were also numerous scheduled performances and presentations including a dhandi jehun (stick dance), bandiyaa jehun (pot dance) and raivaru (a traditional form of poetry which in the past was composed by toddy tappers and fishermen). Famous Maldivian sand artist Afu (Afzal Shaafiu) was one of the special guest artists at the event. He enthralled guests with his live performances which combine Maldivian story-telling with breath-taking visuals created solely on a palatte of sand with his bare hands.

Afu said “It is simply an inspiring event for everyone including guests, artists and the resort; which strikes a perfect harmony in exposing the beauty of Maldivian art and culture”.

Another renowned Maldivian artist, Mariyam Shany Ahmed (Manje), led an illustrative exploration into the world of fantasy and mythology through live interactive painting performances. Guests flocked to the performances and later enjoyed interacting with Manje and Afu during the painting workshops for kids and adults.

Dusit Thani Maldives has reported that the guests were so engaged and fascinated by the various cultural happenings during the Call of the Sangu festival that now many of the concepts will become permanent features at the resort. As such, guests will be able to observe craftsmen making lacquerwork items by hand and purchase locally-made souvenirs which have been certified for their authenticity.

Thanos Lionsatos, Director of Sales & Marketing, said: “Culture matters. That’s why it holds a unique place in our hearts. Call of the Sangu will leave everlasting impressions in  our guests’ minds and hearts and will become one more reason to see our guests at our shores often”.

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