Divehi in Sri Lanka

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Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Divehi
Country: Sri Lanka
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 2,000
World Population: 3,400
Primary Language: Maldivian
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Muslim - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

For centuries, there has been trade between the Divehi people of the Maldive Islands and nearby Sri Lanka. During that time, there have been people from each of the two countries settling in the other one.

Though Sri Lanka is primarily Hindu (Tamil) and Buddhist (Sinhalese), there is a sizable Muslim minority, including the Divehi people.

Where Are they Located?

Most Divehi people live in the stunningly beautiful Maldive Islands, but there is a sizable diaspora. Some live in Sri Lanka or India.

What Are Their Lives Like?

There is a fairly new youth center for Maldivians in Sri Lanka. It gives them access to games like foosball, billiards and ping pong. Youths will also be given an academic course on Islam, and taught life skills.

On the Maldive Islands, divorce is a plague on their families. Some men have had 10 wives, and family life is loosely structured. Children live with their mothers, and fathers sometimes support them. Marriages are not arranged, and they do not have much of a wedding ceremony. Most likely this situation also applies to Maldivians living in Sri Lanka.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Maldivian Divehi speakers are noted for being staunch, dogmatic Muslims. However, their loyalties are not to orthodox Islam, but to quirky forms of folk Islam. This means that they blend their Islam with various animistic beliefs. They have a tremendous fear of the "evil eye," curses caused by a fixed gaze, and evil spirits.

What Are Their Needs?

Believers can show these people, who almost all suffer the ill effects of divorce, what a Christian marriage can be like.

Prayer Points

Maldivians have an exceptionally high divorce rate that leaves their families weak and their people without true love. Pray for them to seek and find biblical answers to this problem.
Maldivians need to be liberated from the bondage to rituals that will not provide them with anything.
Pray for a disciple making movement among Divehi speakers in Sri Lanka and the Maldive Islands.

Text Source:   Keith Carey