Ukulhas (Dhivehi: އުކުޅަސް) is one of the inhabited islands of Alif Alif Atoll
Ukulhas is known to be one of the unique featured Islands in the Maldives with many significant characteristics. People of Ukulhas are well known for ‘Yellowfin tuna’ fishing; along with it major occupation of the island is also recorded as fishing. The people of this island are famous for their braveness and strong adherence with each other.
Ukulhas is located in Alif Alif Atoll close to the most northern boundary. It is an oval-shaped, flat coral sand cay, oriented north-west to south-east, 1025 meters long, 225 meters wide. The island stands at the Longitude of 70° 52′ 00 E and 04° 12′ 00 N. The distance between Male’ and Ukulhas island is 71.91 km. The area of the Island is 17.40 He
People of this unique island beautifies with many aspects. They are unified by a strong tie between each other, especially when they are hurry to fill up a commitment. The people are so friendly, kindred, intelligent, as well as devout. They are tolerant and respectful for each other and of visitor to the island. When you meet up someone in Ukulhas, it is a customary to shake hands. Visitors are always highly welcome by the Ukulhas community. When visiting someone in Ukulhas it’s a trend of escorting him or her to the home or coffee shop to serve a coffee or a local meal. When they receive a guest, they learn the hospitality of the local people. Almost each and everyone know more than one or two types of work. For example; a fisherman knows not only fishing, beside of it working in the environment, he knows carpentry or masonry works.
Most of the people do involve with different games. Foot ball, Volley ball, tennis, badminton and swimming are the common sport items in the island. Colourful entertaining during the night time also marked by a traditional Music called ‘Boduberu’ (cultural music; drumming, singing and dancing). The night life in Ukulhas Island could be cherished by the so called gathering with the cultural memories of traditional Music. The life of the island society is casual, peaceful and spiritual. Almost all are Sunni Muslims; local language is Dhivehi, however most people know English language very much. The people of the island are family oriented.
As the Maldives locates in the middle of Indian Ocean, the route has been led to be a meeting place for African, Arab, Malay and Indonesian mariners. Due to this long time of interchange leads to form diverse culture. Ukulhas has got people from different ethnic groups. We have descendents of Tamil, Sinhalese, and Indians. The people get along in harmony and are proud of their public. The people of the Ukulhas having physical features rarely seen anywhere else in Maldives joyfully continue their lives in “white smiles”, honey-colored eyes and brownish hair.
The island had a series of political changes throughout the last couple of decades. Before the existence and the ratification of present constitution, the island had been entirely centralized by the central government. The island had a chief (Head of the Island) who had to be appointed by the Atoll chief (Head of Atoll). The atoll chief was a person who had to be appointed by the Minister of Atolls and Administration. Because of an autocratic rule which had been kept over the people by the government, the island chief had no power to make his own decision for his concern matters; he had to send messages to the Atoll office where Atoll Chief had to get prior permission by Minister of Atolls and Administration before sending back the reply to the island office. So the minister had the fully power to control over the island and its people. Because of the appointees to the chief posts of the island and atoll, chiefs or heads were fully control by the Minister. As a result of those appointees, island people had no power to elect the people by themselves. Eventually disputes started to arise between chiefs and the people of the is Island.
Island people did not have the right to decide what they want; beside of it they had to accept whatever the orders given by the island chief, either good or bad. After the ratification of the present constitution dated on 7th August 2008, within the democratic movement in the government everything had revolved. The centralized system of the government had changed into a decentralization system.
Local governments were formed in the name of local councils. Councilors were elected by the people of the island. Councilors got the authority to make decision in the name of island people. Councilors got the fully authority to decide what to do for their island and the people. They got the authority to utilize the resources within their jurisdiction outlined by the decentralization Act. Councilors too got the authority to pass local regulations well accordance with the constitution, ratified other laws and regulations.
Historical Political Changes in Ukulhas 1. Katheeb Kaleyfaanu (javaahirumaage’)( at the time of Shamsudhin)(Grand Father of Ibrahim Ali, (Dhon Ibrahim), Reynige’ Dhonfuthu Kuda Katheebu (Brother of Maakudey) 2. Ibrahim Katheeb (Irumatheege’, Father of Kalhuthube’ and a Father of Dhon Hassan) (At the time of Shamsuddin) 3. Katheebe Kujjage Bappa, Abdulla Katheeb(Grand Father of Hassan fulhu and Alifulhu) 4. Maakudey (Father of Hakeem) (At the time of Shamsudhin) 5. Katheeb Dhonbe’ or Bodu Katheeb (Father of Rashad) at the time of President Mohamed Ameen. 6. Khalid Katheeb, Reynige’ (Later he was an Imam) at the time of Mohamed Ameen and Mohamed Fareed) Naibs was Dhon Alifulhu. 7. Alifulhu Kuda Katheeb (Brother of Dhonfathima of Dhonthuthube’) 8. Mohamed Fauzee or Kuda Katheeb (Father of Hussain Fiyaz) at the time of president Ibrahim Nasir. Waleed Khalid, Reynige’ (at the time of president Ibrahim Nasir)Khalid was an Imam, Naibs were Bodufolhudhoo Abdul Raheem and Kuramathi Raazee 9. Dhonthuthu or Ibrahim Adam, Kuda Katheeb, (when Mohamed Fauzee was passed away) at the time of President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom. Waleed Khalid, Reynige was promoted to an Assistant Atoll Chief at the time of President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom. 10. Imad Khalid, Reynige’, Kuda Katheeb (was a former Family Health Worker, when Waleed promoted to Atoll Office), Dhonthuthu held the post of support staff. 11. Mohamed Khalid, Reynge, Kuda katheb (at the time of President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom) 12. Imad Khalid, Reynige, Katheeb, (at the time of President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom) 13. Mohamed Khalid, Reynige, Katheeb, (at the time of President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom) 14. Abdul Latheef Imad, Kuda Katheeb (at the time of President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom) 15. Mohamed Khalid, Bodu Katheeb (at the time of President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom) 16. Imad Khalid, Kuda Katheeb, (at the time of President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom) 17. Shaukath Ibrahim, Udhares, (at the time of President Mohamed Nasheed) 18. 1st Ukulhas Council (Shaukath Ibrahim, Abdulla Firaq, Hussain Fiyaz, Ahmed Shahid Hassan and Ali Waheed at the time of President Mohamed Nasheed)
Note: Till Khalid Kuda Katheeb, salaries were not paid officially by the government, instead of salaries; small portions were given from catches by fishing vessels, fruits and vegetables by trees etc in a monthly basis
Ukulhas culture has been diversified by Arab, African, Sinhalese, and Inidan. Life style and the ordinary dress of the man was very simple, consisting of drawers, a cloth bound round the loins, after the mode of the Singhalese, and a handkerchief twisted round the head. On special days, such as Fridays, when they attend the mosque, the high caste wears a shirt and jacket.
Women’s costume is exceedingly becoming. Round the waist, and reaching down to the ankles, is worn a cloth (mostly of native manufacture), coarse in texture, of a dark chocolate colour, with a border of parallel black and white stripes. Over this they wear a kind of loose shirt, or gown, of silk, with short sleeves, reaching nearly to the knees, which is not made to fit to the neck and shoulders, but is gathered in round them; the openings for the neck and arms are ornamented with embroidery in gold, silver, and silk thread. The hair, which is black, and generally long and thick, is tied up behind, and a handkerchief of the same colour as the shirt is bound round it. All ranks wear similar costume, the distinctions of caste being marked by the difference in the quality of the silk stuff of which the shirt is made, and of the embroidery.
Maldivians were denoted for a great skill of manufacturing mats as though they were fond of great skill of lacquer and fine arts, which led them to hold their reputation upon their harmonious life and furnishing of their reputation. In suvadiva Atoll of Maldives they had been made from a grass called by the Maldivian hau; which were used with three colours of black, dark yellow and white and which were obtained from plants which were lasted wonderfully so long. Walls mostly were built from coconut thatch, which were being surrounded by most of the houses at the height of six to seven feet which made impede the free air passage specially as though the windows where too small to insert the breezes, which results some residents were unhealthy even though their houses were scrupulously cleaned well. The Maldivian so called design, sometimes made apparently in case of illness, as many could be survived if they could have been refraining from closing the passage of airways. The inner compartment in the houses was used as a sleeping room in many of the house houses, and this apartment also remain for women especially when they were not engage in house hold or any other activity.
Pulling the fishing vessel ashore and pushing the fishing vessel offshore had been a remarkable exercise as though before the ashore time, residents were called up to gathered by blowing a conch shell. Conch shell was blown by the chief of the island to gather residents for a particular work, and the shell was blown with particular intervals well accordance with that of the required purpose. People were familiar to clarify and comprehend purpose of blowing accordance with blown intervals. For different purposes different people were gathered by blowing the conch shell with different intervals which had been kept in the safe at island office. When people were gathered the captain of the fishing vessel calls for to catch the rope which had been tied up with the vessel. By an instructed command and reading an ‘Anba’ (a traditional song) people starts to pull up the rope until the vessel stands on ashore. The other purposes of the conch shell blown were, to gather males and female together or males and females separately, when females were called to gather sometimes when they require opening their forests to take logs or firewood to cook their meals as though forests were not allowed enter unless the island chief had given permission to enter into the forest. Conch shell too was blown for emergency purposes. When a declaration of emergency the chief starts to blow the conch shell in a short timely intervals basis. So the people first gather to the place where office was located and chief would let them to know the solemnity of what had been happening before their leave to sole the urgent incident. Within the fort there would be many of old canoe, some might be course quite useless, being rusty and chocked with coral. Some were supposed to be serviceable while some are precisely not. The unserviceable canoe and fishing vessels would be taken back for firewood to cook their regular meals.
Fishing was their favourite exercise, however selling coir ropes and thatches made by islanders and collection of cowry shells, turtle shells and ambergris were being sold to produce their major income.
They were fond of kite-flying; but this pastime is only permitted at certain periods of the year especially when the season gets windy. During Eid festivals they compose and organise several road marched items; Maali which made by covering with thatches and plant leaves around the body, which were being unable to identify, with group of drummers were singing old songs and marched on the road. The people were being gathered at some place until the singing and dancing group arrives. When the group had arrived they started to clap their hands by singing the same song, while some were being accompanying to dance with the singing group. Before the program, famous girls got ready to prepare a bouquet decorated by flowers, birds made by thatches, several herbs with other plant materials. When the drumming by the drummers gets at the climax, the decorated bouquet was presented and introduced by the most popular girls in the island. And with the rhythmic song two or three people would pick up the bouquet with dancing made to get calm down the song.
Historical Facts of Ukulhas
Mother of Sultan Mohamed Imadhudheen II (Dhiyamigilee Bandaarain) called ‘Kan’baa Aminath Binth Mohamed’ (Ukulhahu Bodu Kan’baafaanu) is known to be from Ukulhas.
Ukulhas won the 1st place on National Cultural Music Competition called ‘Thaarajehun’(Thaara was called a duff). Thaara has a traditional Ray skin drum head with tuning machines installed discretely underneath the drum) at the time of Sultan Shamsuddin.
Ukulhas won the 1st place on National Island Cleaning Competition among the female sector at the time of President Mohamed Ameen.
Ukulhas recognizes one of the first islands which established formal schools in the island among all other inhabited islands of Maldives at the time of President Mohamed Ameen. The school was known ‘Reethi Madharusaa’ (Beautiful School)
Ukulhas won the 1st place on National Canoeing Competition (Gaumee Reyhah falijehumuge Mubaaraai) at the time of President Mohamed Ameen. By winning three times on National Fishing Competition in the year 1963, 1964, and 1965, Ukulhas had owned the National Fishing Trophy at the time of President Ibrahim Nasir.
Ukulhas is known to be the 1st electrified Island among all other inhabited islands (except Male’) in Maldives in the year 1982. At that time the electricity was transferred by only a 10 Kw generator. The first time electricity was provided for only 4hrs, from: 6pm to 10pm. Later on it was transformed and made for 6hrs. Likewise it was extended gradually till 24hrs a day. Ukulhas also known to be the 1st electrified island for 24hrs a day (Except Male’) by the immense effort lead by the Ukulhas people.
The first Cable TV center in the Maldives was established in Ukulhas in 1995 with the initiation of Ibrahim Ali (Bahaareege, AA Ukulhas) and Amir Khalid (Reynige, AA Ukulhas). At that time only 12 channels were rebroadcast by the Cable TV Centre to all the residences.
Like all other islands of Maldives, Ukulhas also had a series of historical changes throughout the centuries. The people, way of life, social, economic and political changes had been stepping forward in a periodic manner. Bracing back into the history of Ukulhas Island, the island itself had been encircled by a sandy beach, where no bridges, no sea walls ever had been built before. Due to lack of breaking water or sea wall facilities the island had experienced several endangered incidents had been occurred by the huge waves breaking against innocent white sandy beaches. Large vessels were not used for fishing or any means of transport. Stepping ashore from a Dhoni (traditional fishing vessel) could be practiced by the hand of someone, who had been holding and controlling a canoe by his hand while working in the lagoon and the passage through the surf in these boats is at times a matter of danger. They are built by a wooden plank quite a length of a proportion to their breath size, which results them really seaworthy, could made discomforts because the passenger is obliged to stand up in the stern, as no seats are available for his accommodation, so tha if he was careless to a sharp-out, he runs considerable risk of being shot overboard when the stern is lifted by a wave, in which case he might not possible to survive unless he was a good swimmer. Boatmen were expert of passage controlling, as they spent most of their daily lives in the water rather than stay back in their home.
People in the island appeared have regular features that tranquil expression usually found in Orientals. People were with different colors, such as quite fair, darker, complexions which approached a mahogany tint. The streets were straight, broad, and shaded with trees, and are kept very clean. Houses in the island were built of plaited coconut leaves plastered over with a stiff mud, and roofed with coconut leaves thatch; they were usually divided into two apartments, communicating by a doorway closed by a curtain, where front apartment is the general and sleeping room in, and is furnished with benches around the wall and a few stools beside a bed, which always the most conspicuous article of furniture in Maldivian house. This is suspended from the roof by chains or rope, the material of which depends upon the caste to which the proprietor belongs. High castes using brass chains, middle casts iron chains, and low casts coiled rope. The legs are also provided in order that the bed may be lowered down in case of illness, when the swinging motion to which it is liable would be social danger or annoyance to the patient. The furniture of the bed is a matter of great importance; high castes use a mattress and pillows of red silk; middle castes are content with cotton stuff; while low casts sleep on straw. The mattress on straw is covered with a mat, the pattern and quality of which are regulated by the caste of the owner. . Ukulhas people were very quiet and reserved in their intercourse with foreigners until their confidence has been gained, when they had showed themselves hospitable to a degree. They had few wants and in, and as they possess the means of easily satisfying them, were inclined to be indolent; sober, honest, and cheerful, they had been comparing favourably with the inhabitants of many other Eastern countries. They were very ingenious and expert in their manufactures, and display great aptitude in the imitation of any European articles they may come across, such as knife handles, scales, and other small articles of daily use amongst us.
The trade of the Máldives must all pass through in Malé and is mostly carried on indolent on the principle of barter. The bazaar in Malé is the only one which exists in the group, and it is here that all the foreign trade is carried on. The shops are the personal property of the Sultan, who lets them out to a number of Bombay merchants, at rents varying from 15 rupees to 50 rupees per month. These Bombay merchants mostly sell rice and cotton goods to the natives, taking in exchange tortoise-shell, coconuts, cowries, and dried fish.
As like all the Maldivians, Ukulhas people had been following Islamic law that generally supposed that their conversation to the faith of prophet took place some 1400yrs back. They had been following their religious procedures in particular. Their mosques were small and well built and kept in clean. Separate mosques were built for male and female worship. However the largest and most spacious mosque called Hukuru Miskiyu was set and used for the males as though their ceremonial prayers such as Friday prayers, Eid prayers, Eclipse prayer etc. were specialised for the males only and which the ceremony was so essential to the public. They were religious even though they had a strong belief of Devils. People were afraid of devils as though their superstitions exercise a great influence on their daily life. They had a belief that a Devil could make them responsible for all mishaps which befall which made them to expose themselves at nights unwillingly, for fair of meeting him.
Ukulhas has a tropical climate however warm temperature year around could experience with sunshine. The warm climate has got relatively minor variation in daily temperature throughout a year period. The weather is seemed to large during monsoons. Southwest monsoon lasts from May to November when the northeast monsoon goes from December to April. April is the hottest in average and December is to be recorded as coolest season in average. The month February is notably seen as the driest season while December to April being relatively dries. Maldives is lucky to be remaining as a safe and harmonious country as severe storms are rare made by its location in the equatorial belt