Venerating the dead. The bones are exhumed from family tombs, cleaned, and re-wrapped in fresh cloths and hand-woven mats.
The upper room where we took our breakfast amongst curious stares
Beautifully constructed raffia bowls hold massive portions of sticky rice
No caption necessary
Our friend, Rolland, keeps an eye on the cooking pots
Marina modeling the malabary, the traditional dress of ceromonies
Renee proudly poses with his mother-in-law
The young Malagasy women in their finest garb
Rice galore! These are just two of many pots cooking rice at all hours of the day for four straight days
Pork fat. It’s what’s for dinner (And lunch. And breakfast).
The meat is the star of the famadihana. Renee was very keen for us to take pictures of the food. Boasting about the amount of meat is one way to show how popular your famadihana is, and how well your family is doing, financially
The man in red holds a comically large serving spoon
Renee’s second youngest daughter, Patricia. How can you not love this face?!?
Part dance floor, part dinner table. This is where the core of the action takes place!
Intrigued stares arise from the wielding of a digital camera
Showing pride for their country, a Malagasy flag towers over the proceedings
A young Malagasy boy wearing his hand-made rice bowl as a hat. It is tradition to wear these “hats” once meal time is over
The children were so excited to have their picture taken! Probably the first time in their life…
…but sometimes they were a little camera shy
My favorite picture of the day. Statuesque Lucy, the midwife, overseeing the festivities as one of the matriarchs of Renee’s family
Tiny Malagasy babes
Natacha modeling her rice bowl hat
And the band played on…and on…and on
This is how meals were distributed. Everyone pitched in to help serve
A power nap was much-needed after three days of no sleep due to feasting and dancing
We enjoyed our lukewarm THB while taking in the sights and sounds
Twenty-year old Natalie with her children. Almost every woman of child-bearing age had babies and small children. A “canary in the coal mine” demonstrating the increasing problem of massive population growth in Madagascar
Renee delivering the kabary, a special occasion speech, before moving the bones back to the tomb
A man with his hand-made clarinet. He poured six months of work into this beauty!
Marina thought she would try her hand at the clarinet
The bones were removed from their temporary home near the house and gently passed down the mass of people gathering to show their respect
Everyone surged forward to help move the bones back to the tomb in the ceremonial progression
The progression took us into the beautiful surrounding countryside…
…to the family tomb that was recently built for this occasion
Rough translation: “This monument was completed on September 16th, 2013”
Family members danced and celebrated on the tomb after the bones were placed safely back in their resting place. The mood of the afternoon was quite lively!
The famadihana is a unique experience demonstrating what it means to celebrate family in Madagascar. It is an experience that will be forever ingrained in my memories