Madagascar: The Famadihana, ceremony of turning the dead

In Madagascar, a ceremony dedicated to the deceased is practiced. It is called the “Famadihana” or reversal of the dead.

The cultures as well as the Malagasy habits and customs are very heterogeneous. From North to South and from East to West of Madagascar , this vast country of 587,000 km², one encounters traditional rites inspired by those of European or African countries. Sometimes the local folklores are similar to those of Indo-Pakistani and Asian. Such is the case of the “famadihana” or the ceremony of turning over the dead.

The Famadihana: a festive ceremony dedicated to the worship of ancestors

In Madagascar, the ancestors and especially the deceased are sacred. These hold an important place in everyday life. Even though the majority of Malagasy people claim to be Christians, most of them still pray to the dead. They worship them to bless them and protect them from curses and evil spells. For each project to be undertaken, they dedicate a few minutes of prayer to invoke the souls of those who have left for the afterlife.

Crédit photo: Flickr – Hery Zo Rakotondramanana

Today, the majority of Malagasy people still practice the “famadihana”, or ceremony of turning the dead, which is a traditional practice consisting in renewing the shrouds of the dead in order to keep them warm. Usually, the “famadihana” takes place in winter and it is renewed every 3, 5, 7 or 10 years according to the agreements agreed upon for a long time between the owners of a tomb or according to local customs.

Betrayal: the reflection of Malagasy peace

In Madagascar, “Famadihana” means “festive ceremony” involving songs, dances and enormous expenditure on abundant food ( vary be menaka ), hiring of a troupe of musicians, galore use of alcoholic beverages, purchase of new shrouds for the dead, not to mention the beautiful new clothes for the living. Sometimes, the latter wear similar costumes during ceremonies.

Crédit photo: Flickr – Hery Zo Rakotondramanana

During the famadihana, the celebrations can last two or three days, or even an entire week. The whole population of the village is invited to the party. The presence of all the descendants of those who occupy the tomb, the object of the famadihana, is almost obligatory and the assistance of friends and the acquaintances of the organizers are strongly requested.

At the end of the Famadihana, the organizers are overwhelmed with the duty accomplished towards the ancestors. The guests are delighted to have spent wonderful moments with joy and joy. In short, young and old are happy and keep talking about this event which brings people together and which reflects the attachment of Malagasy people to Fihavanana .

Famadihana, ceremony of turning over the dead, Madagascar
Photo credit: Flickr – Hery Zo Rakotondramanana

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Mohamed SAKHRI
Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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