Today we travel to Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Africa.
Madagascar reflects the origins of the Malagasy people in Southeast Asia and East Africa. The influence of Arabs, Indians, British, French, and Chinese settlers is also evident.
Madagascar is considered one of the most beautiful places on earth, a place whose geography and ecosystems are diverse, colorful and fascinating. In recent years the country has become increasingly modern, particularly in and around the capital city of Antananarivo. Despite this push for modernity, many of the island’s people are still practicing a form of religious ancestor-worship known as Fomban-razana.
Their spirits are believed to be active in looking after their descendants in a variety of ways. And their wishes are therefore to be respected and obeyed. This means that families and communities have various taboos/don’ts (known as fady) regarding the avoidance of certain actions, to ensure the approval of the razana.
There are three category of fady: those related to actions - for example believing it is fady to sing while you are eating and if you do you will develop elongated teeth; those related to objects - for example, the Merina will not have funerals on Tuesdays as this may bring about another death in the family. Foreigners are exempt from having to adhere to fady, although it is sensible and considerate to find out as much as possible about this in regions you are visiting so as to avoid offending people. The most classical example of fady to which tourists might be confronted is the ban on the access to burial sites.
Under the traditional beliefs, practiced by around half the people, there is one God who is neither male nor female. Some people also worship secondary gods or nature spirits, such as those which inhabit rivers or trees. It can be said that the fady has contributed much to the conservation of nature since several parts of forest and lakes were considered impenetrable as they keep the ancestors’ spirits.
Let’s now listen to a Madagascan musician called D’Gary, known for the elaborate playing style of the acoustic guitar. His style developed from his interest in Madagascan music, and has been compared to the music produced on traditional instruments like valiha and marovany. Here a song called “Mora mora”,
Have a musilicious weekend! (the picture above is from pure travel)