Best time to go to Madagascar

Dancing with the Dead 2020

At Famadihana festival Malagasy families dance with the dead

Dancing with the Dead in Madagascar 2020 - Best Time
Photo by

Hery Zo Rakotondramanana

Famadihana or turning of the bones is a unique family celebration held in honour of dead relatives. The bones of forefathers are taken out of the crypts, cleaned, redressed into new silk shrouds and carried around the area so that the ancestors can see all changes which occurred while they had been resting in their tombs. In the meantime the guests exhilarate along with reunited families, they sing and dance with the dead. The celebration also involves animals’ sacrifices, a lot of meat is cooked in order to show the ancestors their well-being. The meat is generously distributed to the guests.

Adults take time to explain the young why their forefathers should be treated with such respect. Locals believe that communication with the dead is possible until the body is completely decomposed. Therefore, they often ask the ancestors for assistance in this or that affair.

Dancing with the Dead in Madagascar - Best Season 2020

After the joyful ceremony, the dead are finally reburied. Malagasy families hold Famadihana festival every 7 years, the festivals begin in June and last for three months. The first celebrations of that kind date back to 17th century.

Since Famadihana is a family-oriented ritual, it's better to come to an agreement with a family beforehand to be present at such an occasion and take photos. They are likely to consent, Malagasy people are extremely friendly and hospitable.