The many fady (prohibitions or taboos) occupy a very important place in the lives of Malagasy people.
Before the existence of schools in Madagascar , the education of children was based on the transmission of oral traditions from one generation to another. Tales and legends of yesteryear, tales of lived experiences and proverbs were used by the elders to teach the young people to distinguish between good and evil. A multitude of taboos and prohibitions (fady) reign within families or communities in order to teach young children good manners and the art of behaving well in society. Compared to all this, many prohibitions have tragic effects in the event of violation.
The influence of prohibitions on the education of children
The fady or prohibitions are precepts to which the Malagasy of yesteryear complied with respect and consideration. They are transmitted from one generation to another through education, for which the elders are responsible. Not doing all those things that were considered forbidden was the lot of toddlers in the past.
“Never point to a tomb with a finger at the risk of losing the culprit phalanx or making the culprit a leper”.
“Never kick the wall at the risk of causing the death of the maternal or paternal grandmother”.
“Never whistle after dark, otherwise the ghosts will come.”
In short, there were as many playful or funny fadys as there were communities in Madagascar. Many fady have survived over time and still remain in force. Some are to be taken seriously. Transgressing these prohibitions may cause physical, moral or material harm to the culprit or his entourage.
Sometimes, prohibitions apply to a category of age, to a line of families, to a well-defined clan or to the entire society, all nationalities combined. Failure to comply with these can lead to serious trouble.
Among the Malagasy, there are collective fady governing an entire lineage or a specific place. This is the case with the consumption of any food containing pork, goat meat or garlic. Those who have dared to break them have met with unfortunate experiences. Some say they had pustules all over their bodies, while others say that evil spirits harassed them during their sleep several nights in a row. The tombs of the kings and the territories of the vazimba also ban the consumption of pork. Beware of those who have consumed it and who dare to approach these sacred places without having taken a shower beforehand.
Prohibitions are also used to protect against theft. To do this, the peasants hang “kalo” (amulets) on the branches of fruit trees or in the middle of a field. These amulets are able to hold the culprit stuck to the trunk of the tree or force him to do field work until the owner comes to the scene of the crime.
So watch out and take Madagascar fady seriously. Their powers are said to be able to cross borders…
Main photo credit: Wikimedia – Robin Taylor