This blog post is a translation of an article uploaded on adhadhu.com as part of "Rashu Note" Series.
When you get onto the island you’ll see a crescent moon inside of a “runbaa” which is a monument. People of Dhangethi have a folklore related to putting the moon into the “runbaa”, in which on one night a boat from Dhangethi sailing to Male’, a crewmate who opened up a water filled “runbaa” to quench his thirst was alarmed and saw that the moon was nesting inside the “runbaa”. When he informed the others on deck and elderly man spoke up “We have taken hold of our luck, we must not let go of the moon inside the runbaa, as it is a gift of gratitude incomparable to others which must be given to the sultan”.
That is how the story goes. In this version of the story it is told in a way to make fun of the crew of the boat. But there is also another way the story is told. Dhangethi Zulaiha Adam (Thuhthu Kabulo) is one of the eldest people of the island. When this story was told by them before to some of the journalists, they said that as seeing the sultan was rare and hard, people of the island grouped up to go to the ruling island of maldives with a gracing gift of the moon in the “runbaa” to get a chance to meet the sultan. Abdhulla Adam (Thuhthube) also told the story in the same way too. So placing the moon inside the “runbaa” was the way that the people of Dhangethi tried to reach for the moon is more probable.
In the raivaru of Ari atoll bandeyri king Hassan Manik it is told that the Sultan Muhamed Mueenuhdheen visited Arumaadhu skipped over the Dhangethi island during his travels through Ari atoll isles. Yet to greet the Sultan the council and people of Dhangethi visited them while they were on Arumaadhu. The reason the Sultan skipped over Dhangethi according to the raivaru was that the state of the island was extremely poor, as they had houses built out of ferns and sticks. Which is in the year 1804.
Dhangethi which is located in the southern part of Ari atoll has an area of 25.2 hectares. The code in English given to the island is i-16.
By February 2022 the population of the island was 552 females and 564 males, totaling up to 1136 people. The total number of people living on the island is around 1200. Including foreigners living on the island the number will be higher.
In the past the backbone of the economy of the island was fishing. They still do reef fishing and have 6 boats to do so. There are 4 construction groups in the island as well even though they haven’t been registered as companies. As it is work people do so to earn money. The groups are run by the leaders of them and the work is done by foreigners.
The thing that’s booming nowadays throughout the island is tourism. Currently there are 13 guest houses functioning on the island. Which has 106 rooms or 212 beds. Even now they are currently working on building another guest house. Out of the guest houses there is also an 8 storey one which has 42 rooms. The guest house business is booming in Dhangethi. In peak seasons there comes occasions where all the guest houses are full and the citizens of the island have to let tourists stay at their homes. Most of the tourists are from Russia and Ukraine. But due to the war in those countries, the number of tourists coming from those destinations have been lowered. Yet business is booming as tourists from other parts of the world and from Maldives are still coming in droves.
There are 12 general stores and 4 restaurants aimed at tourists on the island. Other businesses on the island are 2 carpentry workshops, 2 workshops, 5 diving centers, a saloon, 6 guest shops and 2 tailor shops
Other than the Dhangethi hospital, there also is a great quality private clinic on the island which is run by a citizen of Dhangethi. Hussein Abdhul Samadh Memorial Clinic was opened on the island in 2018. They have an internist doctor, x-ray and scan machines in the clinic. Also on weekends specialist doctors (orthopedic, gynecologist, internist) from Male City visits and provides services. People from around the Atoll visit the clinic to receive treatments. The clinic was opened in the memory of Hussein Abdhu Samadh by his son the pulmonologist Moosa Hussein.
The biggest issue Dhangethi is facing currently is their jetty being small and lack of dry land and not having water and sewage pipes. It has been 20 years since land hasn’t been given from the island.
Currently there are several projects ongoing on the island, which include the Dhangethi mosque, water and sewage pipe installations, construction works of the police station, Dhangethi hospital upgrade works. And also the planning and building of a cultural heritage center with the help of the Indian government.
Dhangethi tourism has been going forward explosively. The natural beauty of the island, 2 huge banyan trees approximately around the age of 500 years, and the small mosque of the island, known as Masjidhuh Rahmaa are all tourist attractions. The story of placing the moon into the “runbaa” which Dhangethi is mocked for is the focal point of interest of the tourists which the whole island's economy is based on. The people of Dhangethi are working hard in delivering and preserving their heritage and beautiful lands for the younger generation with words and actions. Their work has lit up Dhangethi like the full moon on a night with the clearest skies.