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"FAMADIHANA or 'Turning of the..." Madagascar Local Custom Tip by drolkar

Madagascar Local Customs: 37 reviews and 48 photos

<font color=red><b>FAMADIHANA</font></b> or <i>'Turning of the Bones'</i>, is primarily a custom of the Merina tribe. Ancestors are worshipped, remaining part of the family after death and playing just as important a role in family life as when they were alive. When a family feels the need to visit a particular ancestor, or lays to rest the body of a family member who died elsewhere, or inaugurates a new family tomb, a sort of 'party' is held. The celebration can last up to two days and begins with a long procession to the site of the tomb complete with music, drinking and dancing! The ancestors are then exhumed, washed and wrapped in new funeral shrouds. Family members visit with the deceased, sing to them -- even dance with them. At the end of the party, the ancestors are returned to their place of repose together with gifts from the family. It is not easy to get invited to one of these ceremonies as a foreigner; I stumbled across one such procession completely by chance, and watched in amazement...

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  • Written Aug 24, 2002
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