The Independence Day of Maldives is a day of great jubilation for the locals. Falling on the 26th of July, the day celebrates the nation’s freedom from the clutches of the British regime, which led to the full independence of the island-state.
Having tremendous significance to the Maldivians, the Independence Day of Maldives came about after a diplomatic agreement between Britain and Maldives. According to the historic records, although Maldives was governed as an independent Islamic sultanate from 1153 to 1968, it was still a British Protectorate during 1887 to 1965.
This event occurred on December 16, 1887, when the Sultan of Maldives and the British Governor of Ceylon signed a contract that turned Maldives into a British Protectorate. Maldives lost her sovereignty in terms of foreign policy, allowing the British to control matters that related to foreign affairs. However, when it came to internal affairs, the British did not interfere, ensuring that Maldives was given the power to control and decide on matters of local administration.
This was a part of the protectorate agreement between Maldives and Britain, which in the long run helped maintain Maldives’s safety from being subjected to any colonial intimidation. In addition, the British Government guaranteed Maldives military protection. During 1957, the British Government established a RAF base in a strategic location amidst the southernmost atoll of Addu and employed hundreds of locals. However, as time passed, it proved to be too costly to maintain, and 19 years later, the British Government evacuated the base. This led to the British Government granting Maldives full independence, an event that is celebrated with much vigor and enthusiasm.
The festivities usually take place on a larger scale in Male. There is an undeniable sense of excitement in air, as locals traverse along the streets, which are lined with red and green flags. Among the exuberant Independence Day festivities, a highlight for the traveller will be the flag hoisting ceremony at the Republic Square. A televised event, it attracts a number of locals and is held during the morning hours. The ceremony is conducted by the President of Maldives, who addresses the nation after the completion of traditions and customs. A common sight amidst the throngs of crowds is a number of Maldivian flags, waving in the air.
A fascinating spectacle will be the march past by the National Cadet Corps and National Security Service, followed by an extravagant parade. During the parade, the streets are filled with elaborate floats, coupled with armed forces and school children, adorned in colourful costumes, who perform traditional dances and various drills. This is followed by a number of processions, depicting Maldives’ traditional and modern influences. In addition, special programmes and shows are hosted on television and radio to celebrate the occasion, which includes the broadcasting of patriotic national songs.
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