The city of Iharana, the Malagasy name of Vohemar, would go almost unnoticed without its innumerable vanilla plantations, the hospitality of its inhabitants and its magnificent bay. This city of 30,000 souls, however, contains a story rich in twists, since the arrival of the Persians and Arabs in the eighth century until the beginning of the expansion of the Sakalava Kingdom. Little known, Lake Andranotsara, nicknamed the Green Lake, is a few kilometers from the city. Myths, legends and taboos surround this waterhole, one of Iharana's must-sees.
Lake Andranotsara: between science, myths and legends
Located 7 km north of Vohémar, Lake Andranotsara is easily recognizable by its green color. A mystery for many native people, the origin of this hue finds a scientific and rational explanation. Its green reflection results from the reaction of microscopic algae populating its waters in contact with sunlight. The shade of green varies depending on the intensity of light: dark green early in the morning, it turns clear around noon.
The explanation of this color according to the legend is quite different. In the past, a peaceful village was located at the lake. But after a disagreement with the villagers, a monster with seven heads emerges from the sea and attacks the small locality. Under the weight of the beast the ground of the village collapses, after which the monster invokes the genies to bring down a torrential rain on the place, turning it into a lake. The villagers are then reincarnated in crocodiles.
This myth remains deeply rooted in the local culture: the surrounding inhabitants worship saurians as their ancestors and regularly ask for their blessing during ceremonies and specific rituals. These rites, however, are "fady" - prohibited - to foreigners, unless they have special permission.