The ritual of veneration of the deceased is a symbolic tradition in Madagascar. The ancestors have a great place for the Malagasy, because they are considered as intermediaries between the divine being “Zanahary” and the living. The “Fitampoha” is a traditional sakalava cult which marks the close bond between the living and the dead.
Symbol and origin of “Fitampoha”
The “Fitampoha” or royal relics bath is an ancestral ceremony practiced by the Sakalava ethnic group from the Menabe region. It consists of cleaning the bones of former sakalava kings and covering them with flavored oil and honey. This ritual is performed with the aim of respecting the royal ancestors and asking for their blessing. In the XVIIth Century, this rite took place every year and its creator was King Andriandahifotsy. Since 1904, the “Fitampoha” has taken place every 10 years and then every 5 years since 1988. The next celebration of the “Fitampoha” will be held in 2021. At the time of Andriandahifotsy, the ceremony is made to celebrate the return of the warriors after hunting or expeditions against opponents in order to strengthen royal power. Later, the “Fitampoha” became a feast which marks the stabilization and solidarity of the lineages with each royal succession.
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