Everywhere in Madagascar, the homage to the ancestors is fervent

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famadihana ancestor madagascar

The "Famadihana", reversal of the dead in French

The famadihana (reversal of death) is considered a funeral custom from a European point of view (see wikipedia), but from a Malagasy point of view, it is a custom which consists above all of respect for the ancestors, because the dead are not dead. The afterlife is not perceived as an inaccessible realm, it participates in the world of the living. " Tsy maty ny maty ("The dead are not dead") says a proverb ...
Indeed, even if a deceased is in the grave his spirit is still alive and present, he keeps his individuality as his family ties. His presence is felt through messages (dreams and others) that participate in the organization of everyday life, the family, and even the community.
So the French translation "reversal of the dead"Is not appropriate from a philosophical point of view.

Where does this custom come from?

Originally, the exhumation was practiced for the cases of the deceased persons far from its region of origin and a party was organized during the repatriation of the remains in the family vault so that this person rests quietly with his family.
In the Malagasy tradition, it is during the exhumation that the deceased reach the status of ancestors so that they can bring their blessing to the living descendants.
It can be said that famadihana is an extension of the old custom of "double funeral" widespread before modern times in Southeast Asia but also in ancient Egypt as well as in the ancient Near East (in ancient Israel , in Babylon or by the Zoroastrians in Persia) and in ancient Greece.

When are these holidays?

These festivities generally take place between June and the end of September and take place approximately every 5 years. Sometimes afterwards and sometimes earlier, the decision that determines the organization of this ceremony is often linked to the supernatural. In a dream, for example, a deceased parent can tell one of his descendants that he is cold. The family will then consult a diviner (the mpanandro, which will be discussed in a future article) which, during the execution of a fomba, will define with the family the day and the hour favorable to the opening of the tomb. To another extent, it also depends on the means of the family, because a Famadihana, it represents several hundreds of people (parents, guests and inhabitants of the village) that will have to feed for three days during which the rum will flow!

How does this ceremony unfold?

After the kabary (ceremonial speech), the body of the deceased is removed from his tomb and the members of the family, dressed in the same accoutrements so that they are distinguished from other guests, wear the body at the places planned in advance. The body is then exposed to the family, to the guests as well as to the population of the village
During this time, the guests donate "kao-drazana", a sum of money offered by each guest to the families of the exhumed to show their solidarity with them.
Then close relatives wind the ancestor in a new shroud (the old shroud is guarded by women, the latter having a power of fertility). This ritual is accompanied by singing and dancing and tears are forbidden at this time (even if sometimes it's impossible for some people to be sure ...), a sign that the living are happy to accompany their ancestors in their lives. respective places.
After packing the body, the descendants of the deceased take the body of the exhumed while dancing. Before being placed in the family tomb, according to custom, the body of the exhumed is carried seven times around the tomb so that the latter can remember his own tomb. Then the body is put back in its place in the tomb of the family followed by the prayers of the descendants to grant the blessing of these ancestors.
The day will end with a feast during which all present will attend hira gasy shows and dance to the music of the vako-drazana groups.

A testimony that I loved, I invite you to discover a reversal of the dead through the eyes of Matthew: http://g2mphotos.over-blog.com/pages/Retournement_des_morts-218357.html

The end of the overthrow of the dead?

The practice of famadihana tends to become rarer. The main cause is the high cost of the ceremony (it is necessary to offer during three days feasts to all the parents, to the inhabitants of the village, to the guests [several hundreds of people], to make come troops of mpihira gasy and vako -drazana), but also, unfortunately, the impact of Western influence, especially through Christian influence ...

This funeral practice is foreign to us, astonishing to see some religious ashamed, but cultural diversity is what makes each of us, it is also what makes the charm of the trip! If the Malagasy customs are lost, it is the very nationality that is lost ... And then, does this custom not allow to approach death with more serenity? to mourn more easily?

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