Questions may arise on this day in the minds of the current generation, right? Like, what is even a Republic Day? Or perhaps, what is supposed to happen today? Or why do we celebrate this day? Well, it all dates back to the time when we were under the rule of a sultanate. Yes, a sultanate. Now that I have your attention, let's proceed with yet another historical journey.
In the Maldives, we always celebrate the Republic Day as November 11th. We all know that the date is a public holiday, which comes on the heels of November 3rd. But, only a handpicked amount of youngsters really know what it's all about. The November 11 extravaganza is all about celebrating the spirit of being independent and being a part of a "Republic".
Birth and fall of the First Republic
As mentioned earlier, the history of this day dates back to the time when we were under the rule of a sultanate. Back in the day, Maldives was referred to as the 'Sultanate of Maldives'; which originally formed in 1153 when the Buddhist King Dhovemi converted to Islam.
Prior to the formation of a sultanate, Maldives was a Buddhist Kingdom, a Hindu Kingdom and before that a matriarchal society where the atolls were ruled by a Chief Queen. Up till 1965 Sultans were formally recognized as, Sultan of Land and Sea, Lord of the twelve thousand islands and Sultan of the Maldives. However, after the independence in 1965, the Sultan assumed the title 'King'.
Throughout the sultanate rule, Maldives had nine dynasties: Solar Dynasty, Early Lunar Dynasty, Theemuge Dynasty, Hilaalee Dynasty, Utheemu Dynasty, Hamawi Dynasty, Isdhoo Dynasty, Dhiyamigili Dynasty and Huraa Dynasty. The Huraa Dynasty was restored twice, while Dhiyamigili Dynasty saw a one time restoration.
The first republic was formed during the interregnum of the first restoration of the Huraa Dynasty. Abdul Majeed was the sultan of the Maldives back then, however he never accepted the crown. Most of his life was spent living in Egypt, while the country was run by an Executive Council, led by his son Prince Hassan Fareed Didi.
Following the death of Sultan Majeed Didi and his son Prince Hassan Fareed Didi, the members of the parliament elected Mohamed Amin Didi as the next person in line to succeed the sultanate. However, Ameen refused to take on the crown and throne, hence, a referendum was held and Maldives was announced to be a republic. Ameen nullified the 812 year-old sultanate and became the first President of the Maldives on January 01st, 1953.
However, Ameen's triumph and the republic was rather short lived. Residents of Male' appointed Ibrahim Didi, the Vice President of Ameen's government, as the head of the government during Ameen's absence from the country. Ameen, who was not aware of the current situation of the country was taken to Dhoonidhoo island for his safety upon his return to the country.
Four months after being taken to Dhoonidhoo, secret letters were exchanged between him and Ibrahim Didi, to bring an end to this revolutionary government and to restore the Huraa Dynasty of the sultanate. Upon Ameen's arrival to Male', the residents who were lost in rage nearly beat him to death and threw him onto a small boat.
Ameen was later banished to K. Gaafaru, where his health deteriorated. He was brought to Vihamanaafushi Island (Kurumbaa Village), where he succumbed to his ill health on on 19 January 1954. This marked the fall of the first republic of the Maldives.
Huraa Dynasty restoration, Birth of the Second Republic
After the fall of the first republic, a referendum was held and 98% of the people had voted in favor of a monarchy. King Fareed Didi, son of Sultan Abdul Majeed Didi was crowned Sultan of Maldives on March 7th, 1954. He was the first Monarch to claim the title of 'King' with the style of "Your Majesty" in the country, and was the last Sultan of the country.
On November 15, 1967 a vote was taken in parliament to decide whether the Maldives should continue as a constitutional monarchy or change the system to a republic. 40 out of the 44 members voted in favor of a republic and Maldives was once again announced as a republic on November 11, 1968. The March 15, 1968 national referendum vote also saw 81.23% of the votes being cast in favor of establishing a republic.
Ibrahim Nasir, who served as the Prime Minister during the reign of King Fareed Didi succeeded him to become the first President of the Second Republic in 1968.
Why do we celebrate this day?
And now, back to the questions asked at the very beginning. Why do we celebrate it? It's quite simple. To inaugurate a president in every five years, after a Presidential Elections. Now, the question of why celebrating it every year rises too, right? Worry not, there is an answer for that too. Governmental years are counted starting from the day when the president is inaugurated, hence, November 11 marks the start and end of a governmental year anually.
On another note, there is a more subjective answer to the question, based on the opinion of separate individuals. But we are bound to find some common factors and mutual thoughts regardless the answer being subjective.
November 11th is not just celebrated because the sultanate was abolished, or because a new president is inaugurated on that day every five years, but because the country entered an era of development and independence on that day in 1968. Traditionally, celebrations of the day is largely vibrant and colorful with marching bands and children wearing their finest.
The day is also widely celebrated by school children, who spend days and sometimes months preparing for the extravaganza. The attention paid to the little details of the events are praiseworthy, and these get telecast on national TV for everyone to see. The public holiday, has never failed to spark a sense of family and togetherness while bringing the country together in joy and feelings of patriotism.
President Yameen's delayed inauguration, current situation
Current President Abdulla Yameen faced a delay in being inaugurated as the president, after the first round of the initial run of the 2013 Presidential Inauguration was annulled by the Supreme Court. Judge Ahmed Abdulla Didi in reference to several reports claimed that a total of 5,623 ineligible people had voted in the elections, which included dead people and others under 18.
President Yameen won the run-off, with his share of votes rising from 30% in the first round to 51% - due to the coalition he had formed in the second round with other notable parties of the country - in comparison to Nasheed's increase of just 2% between rounds.
President Yameen was sworn in as the newly elected president on November 16th; six days later than the supposed date. He is also the sixth president of the second republic.
Today, November 11th is only known as a public holiday. No one in the current generation quite knows why it is a holiday, or why we used to celebrate it on such a massive scale. But 2014 calls in for a change, as we see ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) gear up to hold various celebrations to celebrate the end of their first governmental year, however, six days late than the supposed date.