Culturalmente Imparando

For many cultures, death represents a transition from earthly to afterlife. However, not all these civilizations celebrate this rite in the same way and surely what we are going to discover today is decidedly particular. It is the Famadihana, a typical ceremony of northern Madagascar characterized by the exhumation of the dead.

This custom is typical of the northern part of the country, between the Antananarivo capital of Antsirabe, and is celebrated during the summer months (from June to September). The ritual of the exhumation takes place between four and seven years after death and on the occasion of this important day (decided by the elders of the family) a huge party is organized that lasts three whole days. Like a wedding, the party is very expensive and families often go into debt to create a memorable event.

During the first day the large family gathering takes place, where dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of people come from their homes. The party starts already in the morning with a rich banquet, whose protagonist is undoubtedly boiled pork with potatoes, accompanied by the music of the village band. Once lunch is over, it is time for the collection of offers, aimed at covering part of the expenses for the ceremony.

The second day is the main moment of the celebration: the whole procession heads towards the family tomb, where other guests from all over arrive. The meeting is very joyful, we eat and drink in company waiting for the opening of the tomb. The latter is a very exciting moment. Crying spreads among those present and temporarily blocks the festive joy: there are those who cry for emotion, those for nostalgia for the deceased. The opening of the tomb represents a real dialogue between two worlds, where the homage is reciprocated by the protection that family members ask of their deceased loved ones.

The third day is characterized by large dances and songs with the bones of the deceased. We eat and drink a lot of rum, while the body is tightened in the arms of the family members and all those present pray to it for peace. The remains are taken and brought home and the edges of the sheets in which the body is wrapped are kept as amulets. Then the deceased is wrapped in new sheets and placed in the grave, which from that moment on will never be opened again.


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  • L'Autore

    Pablo Scialino



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