Exhumation at Andramasina Antemotra

All around the world, every country has its customs and rituals. What I’m going to talk about; is not something new. For those who read my article about “ Famadihana”or Exhumation. Already have an idea, what happens during this family event. The difference between these articles than the last other one I wrote. I had the chance to attend an Exhumation at Andramasina Antemotra and this time there are pictures.

* Andramasina is a countryside that is located around 32 km from Tana. The last time we went there to visit. The road was a terrible dirt road. But now, it completely changed. You don’t have to worry about getting dusty anymore.

* On the way to go to Antemotra. Is the name of the place where the festivity took place. As you notice the hills, it took us around an hour and so to climb it to reach the place. We also passed by the Sacred lake. You might be wondering why is this lake so sacred. Here in Madagascar, there are a lot of sacred places, which has taboos that you have to respect. Some say that if you look in the lake, you can see a mysterious stairs that no one knows where it leads. Before there was a village there. A stranger, who was an old lady, went to this village. She begged for water but no one cared. She cursed the village. There was a huge flood. That’s when this village completely disappeared. That explains the existence of the stairs. Once there was a friend of the family that ate a pork sausage, and after he washed his hands there. It seemed that something pulled him in the water. Everyone searched for him but his corpse didn’t reappear from the water until after 3 days.

Once there was a man who took his pigs there. Then suddenly the pigs head turned backward. If you want to go to this countryside, you can’t eat or touch any pork. At least one week before, going there. When you don’t respect the taboos, something bad always happens.

* Before the huge family event, there was a dance party at night. This countryside is far from the capital. What was really amazing is that the country people like the famous Malagasy music that we listen to in town. It was nice to watch them dance, having the time of their lives. No matter their age, you can see the happiness on their face.

* During that night too, we roasted a sheep which was very delicious.

* We could also see those who tried to find money. Some sold different kinds of beverages. But the most famous there is the Toaka gasy: which is a strong alcoholic Malagasy beverage. Some men drink it until they are totally drunk.

* Here is a Sugar cane seller. It’s very sweet and it makes you want to eat non-stop until your mouth is tired chewing and spitting it out.

* This is the family Guest house. All the family stays there when they come to Antemotra.

* During the Exhumation, a zebu is killed to feed all the family and guests, and those who live around. What we have here is the skin of the dead zebu.

* Some Exhumations have the Malagasy traditional singers (mpihira gasy). But this time; we had this musical band to entertain people with the music they played.

* We can never forget the popular “Vary be menaka”. It’s the fatty beef that we eat with rice.

* This is the place where we feed the guests and those who live around.

* It’s time to go to the family tomb. You can see the people bringing the “tsihy”: which is a mat and the “lamba mena”: which is a shroud.

* Here is the family tomb which the ancestors are buried.

* Strong young men are digging and on top of the tomb are the “zana-drazana”: which are the generations of the ancestors. This is one way they show how proud they are to have ancestors which they came from.

* This is how the tomb looks like when it’s open. Only men entered it.

* This is the inside of the tomb; where you can see the corpse of the ancestors.

* Here are the group of men taking out the ancestors corpse out of the tomb

* They were laid on a mat. Some families wait every 7 years to renew the shroud.

* It takes time to renew the shroud. It’s a very tense moment for the family. It reminds them of their beloved ancestors that passed away a long time ago.

* To make sure that the shroud doesn’t become loose and open. This is the way, they do to prevent that.

* After that is done, we put it all back in the family tomb.

There are some Malagasy people who don’t do the Exhumation anymore. Everyone has their personal reasons and opinions. Despite the globalization, each country has their customs and traditions. Some doesn’t care about that anymore. They think its old fashion or even a waste of money. The Exhumation is the moment to gather all the family. A new beginning, to forget all the family feuds and become close again. It’s also the moment to know more about the ancestors that we came from. Especially, to know that when our time is through. We have a family tomb and won’t just be buried anywhere. As Malagasy, we have our beliefs. Respect it and that what makes us different from other countries.

3 thoughts on “Exhumation at Andramasina Antemotra

  1. Wow, really great pictures! I think it is a wonderful ritual to remember our ancestors who are no longer with us. I feel that in many countries those links with our personal and family histories are being lost. Thanks for sharing.

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