The Divine in Malagasy Life and Belief


Saying each person has its own identity is true to the whole Malagasy people. Thousands of customs and traditions are shaping Madagascar identity and are still respected until today ; while some are controlling the do’s, others are highlighting the dont’s. Below are some with the most significant ones …


The Fady

The « Fady » or taboo is the first one that foreigners must know. Breaking a fady can be dangerous to Malagasy beliefs. This can be just as simple as « you can not enter certain areas when you have just eaten pork ». This also applies to bury on Tuesday or Thursday. Fady can be for everyone, especially women during pregnanc :  don’t step over an ax if you don’ want the baby to be born harelipped ! And the list is still long …


Ancestor worship

For Malagasy people, ancestors are the perfect mediators between the living and the supernatural world. By burying parents worthily with all rituals, the dead becomes an ancestor and right away belongs to The Order of the Sacred. In all occasions, they will be invoked to protect their descendants and bless all future projects. Sometimes even before toast, you can see someone throw drops of alcohol in a corner of the house ; a gesture to show them the greatest respect but also to remind the living that they are always there watching over us.  


The « famadihana » : Turning of the dead

If the burial ceremony is an important step to honor the dead, the next one given to him will be the turning of the dead. Also called exhumation, it’s one of the most important rituals for honoring ancestors. The ritual consists of giving the deceased a new shroud and carrying it around the grave before re-burial. It’s a question of recalling the beautiful memories of the deceased, to place it again in the order of the world of the Sacred.


The ody and the sampy

In the same vein as witchcraft, Malagasy people believe in the "ody gasy". Many go to Mr Rabe (the village wizard) to drive out diseases, bring prosperity, guarantee fertility and so on and so forth. Father Rabe uses natural materials for its own ceremony. However, some  call for his help for evil purposes , driven by jealousy, contempt or simply by deliberate will. This is why the term "ody gasy" has become so pejorative for most Malagasy people.


The vintana

The Malagasy believe a lot in vintana or destiny. The calculation of vintana depends on the phases of the stars, especially the moon. The important acts of life are so decided according to lunar cycles. The full-moon post period is often the most conducive moment to great feats. Undertaking the construction of a house or deciding the date of a wedding depends entirely on the calculation of vintana. The calculation of the vintana rhythm then the daily life of the Malagasy from his birth until his death.


The mpanandro

The mpanandro is considered a diviner or more exactly an astrologer. His knowledge is closely related to the calculation of vintana. He’s the most listedn person of the village for his ability to determine the days when should occure circumcision, wedding or exhumation event. The « sikidy » is for him a tool to determine the future.Those who are going to organize a big event must therefore ask for his opinion.


Published on Wednesday, 16 January 2019 15:45