Why Coconuts Were Accused of Meddling in Politics

A coconut, hopefully not cursed.
A coconut, hopefully not cursed.

On the heels of the Maldivian presidential election in September 2013, police investigated an entity accused of rigging the entire thing. They didn’t question a disgruntled campaign manager, though, or place a mole in a hacker collective. Instead, authorities took a coconut into custody. Its crime? Possible involvement in a black magic ritual with electoral consequences.

A resident found the coconut on Guraidhoo, one of the many islands comprising the Maldivian archipelago, near a school used as a polling station. Authorities then launched an investigation to determine if the coconut had meddled in the election. Eventually, a white magic practitioner declared the coconut to not be cursed after all.

This was not the first coconut to come under scrutiny for political reasons in the Maldives. That same week, as local outlet Minivan News reported, a young coconut (known as a kurumba) inscribed with Arabic verses was found in a home garden. Concerned residents said that the coconut had been used in a fanditha, a combination of black magic, folk medicine, and spells.

In local practices including fanditha and sihuru, verses from the Quran are often used. That’s why the coconut near the polling station caused alarm: It had been inscribed with a verse, and…

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