If cultural experiences are what you seek when you travel, then look no further than this exciting list of Malagasy cultural events, perfect for travellers in any season! Read on to find out when Malagasy New Year is celebrated (disclaimer – it’s not January!)
Haingo, our lovely Explorer Malagasy teacher, has kindly compiled a list of the must see cultural events for the traveller in Madagascar:
- March or April:
∗ The Malagasy new year is celebrated. There is usually a big celebration outside the city centre.
- June 25th:
Children go outside with their paper lanterns. A grown-up or two accompany them as they walk around the neighbourhood, whilst the children sing Arendrina taratasy o! May may may! (‘Paper lantern, burn, burn!’)
∗ Famadihana (‘turning of the bones’) or exhumation. This is a long waited reunion with the dead relatives who are now our razana (‘ancestors who can bless us now’).
∗ Hasoavana (‘circumcision’). This is a rite of passage for little boys before they start schooling. Some people still keep the tradition of going to a water source to get some rano mahery (‘literally strong water’). There is usually a procession: some of the family members/relatives carry sugar cane and there are also some flautists or drummers hired for the occasion. In some areas of Madagascar they have the ceremony every 7 years. They call it Sambatra.
- All Year Round:
∗ Fisehoana (the original Malagasy wedding) is an event that will show you how the Malagasy love using proverbs and sayings, how the Malagasy like to check genetic background, and how the future groom and his family has to pay for the vodiondry or the ‘bride’s price’. And there is of course a party with some Malagasy dance and food are prepared for the celebration.
The wedding reception happens just after the church ceremony. There will be a lot of food, music and dancing at reception. Every guest looks forward to dancing the Afindrafindrao (‘the shoe dance’) and other Malagasy dances.
∗ Alavolon-jaza (‘Baby’s first haircut’) is a ceremony and a party to introduce a baby to his community. This usually happens when the baby is 3 months old.
∗ Consulting sikidy (‘divination’) must occur before organising an event (wedding, circumcision, exhumation…) People usually consult the sikidy about whether it will be a successful day or not.
∗ Hira gasy (folkloric songs) usually describe life in a funny way. Sometimes, there is a contest (during a show) to see which band is best at singing. Shows usually take place during the weekend.