People: Merina and Betsileo
Religion: Christianity (mainly Protestantism and Catholicism)
Ritual: Famadihana (re-burial)
According to malagasy belief, man is not made of earth but of the ancestral bodies. And according to faith, the ancestors have not left the world of the living before their bodies are completely decomposed. Until then, it is possible to communicate with the dead, who are treated with great respect and love at the famadihana ritual. During the ritual, the families thank their ancestors and tell them how it goes in the world of the living. The ancestors are also asked for good health or a good harvest.Read More
The ritual is held every seventh year among the Merina and Betsileo people in the highlands of Madagascar. The family graves are opened and the dead are carried out in the open where they are honored and wrapped in new silk. After that, the families dance around the grave with their ancestors before they are put back.
The ritual is threatened because of increased poverty, rising prices of silk, plague and, not least, the Christian Protestant church that does not approve the ritual. The Catholic Church regards the ritual as a cultural-born phenomenon and is therefore more friendlier set.
The Famadihana ritual is most likely from Indonesia and has been brought to Madagascar via migration by the sea. In Sulawesi and Borneo, as well as in the Philippines, similar rituals are practiced. However, in these places people does not dance with the dead like in Madagascar.