Summer and winter alike, everywhere in Madagascar we find traditional rites of honoring the Zanahary (God) or the ancestors.
With the Malagasy, nothing ever happens by chance. For every real fact, there is always a cause and effect relationship. A happy event occurs thanks to the complacency of God (Zanahary) and deceased ancestors. As for misfortunes, they are assigned to the breach of customs and habits , to the transgression of fady or to the malefic powers of amulets.
The powers of Zanahary and the deceased ancestors of the Malagasy
In the age of the Internet, many Malagasy still remain closely tied to traditional beliefs. Some wear “vangovango” (solid silver bracelet) on their wrists to protect themselves from bad luck and evil spells. Others smear the front door of their homes with ointment made from goat’s fat to ward off malevolent acts by sorcerers. Whether you have a sore or a serious illness, a consultation with the “mpanandro” (traditional healer) is inevitable.
Obscure beliefs in gods and in animism still hold an important place in daily life in Madagascar . Illness, broken relationship, divorce, loss of employment, failure of a project or death? Among the Malagasy of yesteryear, unfortunate events never happen by chance. These are the consequences of non-compliance with any rite involving the anger of the lords, including “Zanahary” and the deceased ancestors, or the fruit of bad spells cast by others.
Amulets and acts of witchcraft
In Madagascar, it is very common to see strange and paranormal phenomena such as the following on the front page:
- One or more people or zebus struck by lightning while the weather is very fine,
- homes robbed and stripped of their valuables while owners sleep soundly inside, through fonoka,
- group of healthy teenage girls who fall into a trance simultaneously in classrooms or in a public place.
By the way, “ody” and “mosavy” (Malagasy-style voodoo) are still widely practiced in Madagascar.
Whether in large cities or in remote countryside, we always hear about amulets and acts of witchcraft. Summer and winter alike, everywhere in Madagascar we find traditional rites of honoring the Zanahary or the ancestors. This explains the omnipotence of the Zanahary and associates with the Malagasy.
Main photo credit: A Mahafaly tomb in southern Madagascar – Flickr – salymfayad