Bodu Beru is the most popular form of music and dance in the country, enjoyed by the young and the old, men and women. There is a Bodu Beru troupe in almost every inhabited island and is regularly played at special functions and festivalss.
The musical instruments used in Bodu Beru consist of three or four drums and a variety of percussion instruments. The drums are made from hollowed coconut wood and covered on both ends with manta ray skin or goat hide. A lead singer chants the lyrics and a chorus of 10 to 15 follows as they clap to the beat of the drums. The rhythm build as the song continues until it reaches a frenzied crescendo.
As the rhythm picks up, dancers come out from amongst the troupe swaying to the rhythm. As the beat becomes faster the dancers leap and jerk to the beat as if in a trance. Onlookers join in the clapping and dancing. Old men, suddenly catch a stray rhythm and throw themselves into the arena. To wild applause from the crowd they gyrate and grimace in their dance, passing on to the young what they have learnt from their forefathers. According to some historians Bodu Beru was introduced to the country in the early 19th century by African slaves. During the reign of Mueenuddeen I these slaves were liberated and sent to Feridhoo in Ari Atoll. It is believed that bodu beru spread out from there to become one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the country.
Thaara also holds a special place in local entertainment. Two lines of men attired in white sit on the ground and sing beating hand drums while others dance between them. Thaara is believed to have been introduced from the Middle East in the seventeenth century. Today Thaara is only played at national events.
Bandiyaa Jehun is a more popular form of dance performed by young women. The women carrying metal water pots stand in two lines facing each. They sing and dance to melodious tunes while taping the rhythm on the pots with rings worn on the fingers.
Although western pop and Indian music is quite popular today, traditional forms of music and song that have been passed down to us by our ancestors survive. Raivaru, farihi and bandhi are all unique styles of singing that are still practiced by people around the country.