The “Famadihana” literally means “the turning of the bodies” and is a Malagasy tradition not only to celebrate life and kinship but also help. The Malagasy people of Madagascar have built a way of life around death – during the dry winter months, famadihana ceremonies, known as “the turning of the. Famadihana: Madagascar: Daily life and social customs: aside from burial, is the famadihana, in which the bones of the ancestors are removed from the family .

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The Malagasy people believe their ancestors serve as intermediaries between the living and God and therefore have the power to intervene in events on earth. Guests and relatives travel for miles to attend the two day celebration, usually bringing a donation in the form of money famadijana alcohol. The tombs of the Merina ethnic group are built partially underground with a chamber in which the bodies of ancestors are kept on shelves, wrapped in silk cloth.

The family members who organised famadihana.

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Articles – Madagascar’s famadihana – the turning of the bones | Bradt Travel Guides

A bottle of perfume was emptied on top of Jeanne, who loved make-up and looking beautiful. Divers find fossils of extinct giants underwater. With your donation, we could reach the hearts of thousands of new readers every day. Famadihana also offers a chance for deceased family members to be reunited in one single family tomb, since Malagasy beliefs sees being buried separately as a terrible fate.


The body would be placed in a hollowed-out tree trunk and sunk into the mud at the bottom of a marsh. Family members carrying their dead. Malagasy culture Malagasy words and phrases. I cannot imagine something like this happening where I live.

Anthropologist Professor Maurice Bloch, who has studied the ritual, says the ceremony is a chance for a family reunion. They believe that the dead do not move on to the next life immediately but remain in the land of the living until their bodies have completely decomposed.

Famadihana, Madagascar: A Feast for the Dead

Some of the images may have been taken from the Famaddihana. The spirits want to return to Earth, every so often. A moment of rest.

Dancing with the dead Then guests drink, converse, and dance with their forebears. The dead circling the family tomb. Radical new documentary claims Copernicus and four centuries of science is wrong.

Many ethnic groups in Madagascar practice a fusion of Christianity and traditional beliefs, yet they do not believe in heaven or hell. However, the most traditional Malagasy families continue to practice Famadihana in order to show their respect for their ancestors. But the centuries-old practice, known as famadihana, is problematic at a time when plague is resurgent.

The celebration ends before nightfall as the Merina tribe fears the negative energy and evil power the night brings. JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. A sentence says it all: Story highlights Some Madagascan ethnic groups honor their ancestors by exhuming their remains and bringing them out for community festivities The sacred ritual occurs every five to seven years and is known as Famidihana or ‘the turning of the bones’ The remains are then returned to the tombs upside down to close the cycle of life and death.


When early colonial missionaries reached Madagascar, they tried to force the Malagasy people to abandon the ritual, but the practice managed to survive.

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Two Sides to Every Story: The belief system of the Malagasy people is ancient, but the ritual of Famadihana emerged in malwgasy early 17 th century.

Retrieved from ” https: It was sweet, but rancid. They live in trees, in animals, in the air. Just before the sun sets, the bodies are carefully returned to the tomb and turned upside down.

After the bodies are rewrapped, the families carry the bodies through the streets and dance with them accompanied by live music.

A Feast for the Dead. I remember walking back downhill, over hills and across rice paddies, as the tomb was being sealed again. By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings.

Absolutely fascinating look at the way different cultures look and deal with death.