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CULTURE AND TRADITION OF THE HIGHLAND

ALA VOLON-JAZA

(First cutting of hair)Which means “ The baby’s first cutting of hair ”, when a baby reaches its third month, his hair is cut for the first time, for this, the mother choose a person having good hair, so she hopes that the baby’s hair will be like those of that person, at the moment of the cutting, the person can’t turn back.

THE ZAFIMANIRY CULTURE

Proclamed International Patrimony by the UNESCO in 2001. The Zafimaniry land is found in the province of Fianarantsoa, at Ambositra, the wood work know how of the Zafimaniry is specific and original. The Zafimaniry wood work know how belong to their integral daily lives, they show an artistic and remarkable skill.Nearly all the wood surface (pillars, windows, tools, . . . ) all useful toolos such as kitchen utensils, purely decorating articles (honey box, trays) are worked on and have finely sculpted motifs which show their conception of life and death.
The sculptures and motifs represent social function for example, roof ornament for a king’s house.
The sculpture also have useful function : the square or rectangular central pillar, sculpted from the bottom to the top, share the interior part of 2 pieces, the center symbolise the support of the building.

WEDDING

Before the wedding day, there is the engagement ceremony, or “ fanateram-bodiondry ” which happens as follow, all the families are gathered both sides, the bride and groom’s families take an “ orator ” along with them, during their speeches, they give information about each families origin, with offensive expressions sometimes, each orator wants to have the last worried, at the end of the engagement ceremony, money are offered to the groom’s parents, with all coins and bills existing in Madagascar.
The second envelope contain the “ ala volo fotsy ” , because the daughter used to take out her father’ white hair, and now, as she is leaving, there’s nobody to do it. The third envelope contains the “ tsaka rano ” or the fetching of water. On the wedding day, close families of the bride will take the groom from her parents’house to church, and as gift, the groom brings with her some furniture and kitchen utensils.

CIRCUMCISION

Circumcision in the high Plateau is different from the “ Sambatra ”, circumcision in the East part of the island. It is an individual circumcision, for the Malagasy people, an uncircumcised man is not considered as a true man, no woman will want to marry him, and he has no right to be buried in the family tomb. The aim of circumcision is to make a boy a man, and to purify him from, birth impurity, but scientifically, it is also a protection against penis inflammation, which is a disease in hot climate countries. The instrument used to cut the prepuce can be a knife, a pair of scissors, for the Bara and the Antandroy in the South, a sharp bamboo part can be used. On the eve of the operation, all members of the family sing and dances, and wish the little boy’s wealth, strength, good health in the future. The families put a banana trunk in the little boy’s parent’s home, as a wish for them to have many male descendants, circumcision is done at dawn, a group of men go and fetch sacred water “ ranomahery ” (pourful water) in mountain source. At their return, families will welcome them with much hostility, and interdict them not to come back to the village. The sacred water must be brought by a man whose parents are still alive, it is used to wash the surgeon’s hands, the knife and the wound. The prepuce is then swallowed by the grand father with banana.

TOMBS

It is the familial tomb for all the families generation

FAMADIHANA OR EXHUMATION OR THE TURNING OF THE CORPSE

This tradition is very common in all High Plateau regions. The Merina, Betsileo and the Vakinankaratra, Exhumation occurs during 3 days from June to August. The main reason for exhumation, for the Malagasy it is forbidden to just leave their ancestors in tombs, those who do not practise exhumation does not deserve to bring his father’s name. In a sense, the Malagasy believe that life and death are interdependent, they believe in ancestors, and that ancestors bring blessings. It is a honour for the families to have festivities, many zebus and pigs are killed, with a large quantity of rice, and without forgetting alcoholic drinks, shrouds for the died, women buy new rice dresses.
The “ Mpihira Gasy ” or traditional musicians sing and dance during 3 days.
The First Day : all people in the village are invited to eat rice with pigs and beef.
The Second Day : : a special day for the “ Hira Gasy ” and traditional songs
The third Day : the time for exhumation, corpses are taken out of the tombs, put on a nat. with close families, before wrapping them with new shroud, sterile women may take from the shroud, hoping to have a baby. Some people take it home, believing that it may bring them prosperity and protect them against evils. Then the corpses are brought on the shoulders, and families turn with it seven times around the tombs, before putting it back in the tomb. All the ceremonies happen around the tomb.




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