current generation of Maldivians lives at a time of rapid
change. The old ways of doing things are giving way to new
ways. The haphazard Islamic lunar calendar along with the
Hegira year was disestablished from official use and the Gregorian
calendar with the Christian year adopted in its place in 1961.
The medium of instruction in state schools changed from Maldivian
to English in the same year. The dress code changed in 1969.
What was considered holy before (e.g.: seeking intercession
of the dead) has become profane under current fundamentalist
Islamic influence sponsored by radical Arab organisations.
Where once the very sight of the Islamic veil would draw amazed
stares, women who grew up wearing micro-mini skirts are now
coerced into donning the burugaa. Mosques with quaint Divehi
names such as Karukehey Miskiiy (Throat-clearing Mosque) and
Faifuhey Miskiiy (Feet-wiping Mosque) have transformed into
"Masjids" with unpronounceable Arabic names.
spite of all these changes that older people are finding hard
to cope with, there is one system that has remained unchanged.
That is the seven day week. What is more, the Divehi meanings
of the days of the week are remarkably the same as those of
the Western days of the week.
surprising is the fact that Monday in Malé had probably
always been Monday everywhere else in the world. Who co-ordinated
Babylonians reckoned time using the lunar month. They regarded
the first, the fourteenth, the twenty first and the twenty
eighth day of the month as holy. These days coincided respectively
with the first visible crescent, the waxing half moon, the
full moon, the waning half moon and the last visible crescent.
There were seven days between these holy days. This seven
day period later became disassociated from the lunar month
to become the week. Soon the days of the week became associated
with the Sun, the Moon and the five known planets.
that were influenced by the Babylonians adopted this system
and associated the week with local deities that corresponded
with the same celestial bodies.
Maldive names of the planets sound very similar to their Sanskrit
equivalents and were probably derived from that language.
Hindu deities associated with the planets have similar names.
Although the images of these Hindu deities are shown below,
there is no evidence to suggest that the same images, if any,
represented those of the equivalent Maldive deities.
is indeed surprising that the names of the days of the week
and what they stood for survived the onslaught of Islam which
accelerated more than ever before over the last quarter of
of the Twentieth Century