The FAMADIHANA (The real malagasy name of this custom), or “TURNING OVER OF THE DEAD”, is a funeral custom that is found in certain regions of Madagascar, in particular the Highlands region. Although it appears rather late on the island (perhaps only after the 17th century), at least in its current form, the famadihana1 is an extension of the old custom of “double funerals”. very widespread before modern times in Southeast Asia but also in ancient Egypt as well as in the ancient Near East (in ancient Israel, in Babylon or by the Zoroastrians in Persia) and in ancient Greece. According to Malagasy philosophy, the manes of the deceased do not definitively join the world of the ancestors until after the complete corruption of the body, after a long period that can last for years, and after the completion of appropriate ceremonies. The ritual of ancestralization, post-mortem, consists of digging up the bones of the ancestors, ceremoniously wrapping them in fresh tissue (lamba) and walking them dancing around the tomb before burying them again. In Madagascar however, this re-burial (literally reversal) ends up becoming periodic, generally every seven years, in a great celebration bringing together all the members of the group. On this occasion, the silk shrouds covering the decomposed mortuary remains of several bodies were renewed2. The ceremony can take place following several events: period of time (seven years) coming to an end, one of the family members dreamed that an ancestor requested a ceremony, burial of a new deceased.


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