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Prayer for blessing to God and ancestors, loyalty to the king, strenghtening of brotherhood ties. Transfer of the relics on the riverbank Tsiribihy. Wake with songs and dances and sacrifice of zebu, bath of royal relics, back to Zomba. Belo-sur-Tsiribihina. Bath of royal relics in the Menabe, Sakavala region.

The rite of the possession by the spirits of the dead king is one of the most effective exercise of political power in the ancient kingdoms. These rituals have a special importance during some dynastic ceremonies such as the bathing of the royal relics of the Sakavala of Menabe: the Fitampoha, in which the immersion of the relics of all the kings of the dynasty in the river Tsiribihina takes place, in the presence of women in trance, possessed by the spirits of the kings.

Some circumstances are needed for the practice of the Famadihana. The first is that the dead can’t be buried in the family tomb at death. His living relatives ,a few years later, must take him to the family tomb. This circumstance, for health reasons, is always an opportunity for them to express their joy and celebrate the event. The second fact is that the Famadihana partakes to the duties to each deceased person according to the traditional malagasy religion in which the living must honour their ancestors. It is believed that the ancestor is cold and needs a new shroud.

The Famadihana ceremony is normally set several years after the death. The “Moanandro”, (astrologer) arranges the day and the time. The body is exhumed and wrapped in a mat, “tsihy”, for transportation. The relics are brought by two men and a group of friends, men, women and children going in procession, walking and dancing together. Some sing, others play music.
Eventually, once arrived at the family tomb, the dead is again enveloped in a “Lambamena”, (piece of cloth).And before he returns to his home, the usual practice is to bring him seven times around the tomb. The entire ceremony is performed in an atmosphere of celebration and rejoycing. Music, songs and rythms mix with the sacrifice of a zebu and sharing food. A speech in memory of the dead and about the fate of the living closes the ceremony.

Rites observed in Imerina:
After the dead has been washed, dressed and wrapped in an “Lambamena” (shroud, piece of silk) it may be exposed for a short time to relatives. Then the dead is placed in a coffin and carried to the grave. Sometimes this transportation may be the opportunity for the last tour of the dead’s properties.
Rites observed in Mahafaly and Antandroy regions:
The coffin is violently shaken in all directions by the group of porters, who make a jumping dance while the women clap their hands and other men brandish their spears. Once the deceased is brought to his tomb and buries, a monument to his memory is built.One or more sacrifices of zebus take place during the ceremony that may lasts for several days with night wakes accompanied by songs and dances.The ceremony will end with a feast where the food is shared.

The importance of the ceremony is related to the wealth of the dead and it is sometimes a herd of dozens or hundreds of zebu heads to be sacrificed. Some tombs decorated with hundreds of pairs of horns reflect the importance and the wealth of the deceased.