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Imagine a tiny island isolated from the rest of the world by the vast Indian Ocean.

Imagine islanders living a simple life, days after days and with very little interactions with the outside world.

Imagine night time when the island is plunged into darkness, with no lights in sight and only fireplaces to light up the inside of their coral built houses or palm leaves huts.

Imagine the sound of the wind howling through the trees, the waves crashing onto the shore, and the fantastic stories told and passed down by word of mouth by generations of islanders…

Superstitious and supernatural’s beliefs in Maldives played an essential role in the everyday life of the islanders. Supernatural stories developed in the old days and were for the inhabitants a solution to all the basic problems of survival encountered in their remote tiny islands.

Nowadays, beliefs in spirits and monsters are still an important component of the Maldivian culture and the present generation like to listen and share the elders frightening and mystical tales. However with the introduction of modern technologies (electricity, telecommunication, motorboat …), modern medicine and education, these beliefs seem to be fading away pretty fast.

Nevertheless, some remote islands still take very seriously monsters and spirits and few islanders still use black magic, avoid certain areas of their island, stay home at certain time of the day, just to avoid trouble with the spirit word.

Maldivian spirits can take human form can represent horrible monsters or simply be unexplained natural and visual phenomenon.  Here is a short list of some of the most popular spirits you might encounter when traveling to Maldives:


In Islamic culture and in Maldives Jinns are believed to be invisible supernatural creatures, living along with humans and being able to interact in a tactile manner with people and objects . Belief in the Djinn is very common in the Maldives. In some local islands is not unusual to hear inhabitants reciting a formula before throwing away something, for fear of hitting a Jinn that may pass by in the neighbourhood.

Jinns are also said to posses people, animals or trees and they usually haunt uninhabited places such as cemeteries, sandbanks, dense vegetation…

Fuvahmulah Mosque

Fuvahmulah Mosque and cemetery

If possessed by a djinn, the fanditha ( see below )  is used to exorcise the human controlled by this evil spirit.


Belief in sorcery and black magic known locally as fanditha or sihuru, is common and widespread in the Maldives.

Fanditha & Sihuru are a mixture of local medicine, magic spell, incantation and Koran verses.

Fanditha can be curative or preventive and are performed by a fanditha man/sorcerer. Fanditha can is usually used for everyday life:  to ensure the fish catch will be good, to protect a newly built vessel, to bless a marriage, to cure a disease, to protect from evil spirits…





black magic coconut found near polling booth in 2013

On the other side Sihuru is used for criminal/delinquent purposes such as harming or killing enemies, rigging political elections , causing illness or make a person go mad. Use of Fanditha and Sihuru is still widespread in some local islands and respected Fanthida sorcerers are still paid large amount of money to perform their spells.

Seeking help from a sorcerer is prohibited in Islam.  Maldives and religious authorities urge the public to refrain from engaging practitioners of black magic  . Sihuru is an offense under law of Maldives and performing harmful black magic can be severely reprehended.

Rumours has it that present President of Maldives, Yameen Abdullah is a believer in magic and that many of his political choices are influenced by magic men and their prediction.


Kandumathi Elhun is a supernatural experience peculiar to the sea and fishermen. This phenomenon can take different forms:  a ball of fire appearing from nowhere, a ghost ship full of lanterns , a crude sea monster mouth wide open with glowing teeth trying to swallow the fishermen dhonis, floating dead bodies or coffins, boat travelling for hours but actually staying in the same place although compass shows otherwise ….

Many written stories of Arabic and European explorers speak of these paranormal phenomenons and the islanders fears.


Handi are Maldivian spirits who took human form. They usually take the appearance of a dangerous but charming and beautiful fair woman dressed in red. If you see this woman on the beach at night she will drive you insane and destroy you. You will have no chance to escape as she travels at great speed and will take pleasure to hurt you …

old picture of libaas dress

Woman wearing traditional libaas dress

These stories, tales and beliefs belong to the oral tradition of Maldives and always contain a lesson in some form or the other. All these beliefs, monsters and spirits cannot be scientifically explained. It really depends on what you believe and what you allow yourself to believe. Whether you believe or not these stories, we can guarantee that you will be enchanted by the magical beauty of Maldives .





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