VELOMA IANAO,
MADAGASCAR

2011 – 2012

alive, we live together in our homes; dead, we live together in the tombs
— Malagasy saying

In Madagascar there is a saying that goes: ‘alive, we live together in our homes; dead, we live together in the tombs’.

Malagasy people believe that, even if in a state of physical immobility, the dead continue to play a very real role in daily life... and like everyone, the ancestors still appreciate a good party, especially if held in their honour. That’s why once every 5 to 7 years, during a huge celebration called Famadihana, each family gather around their ancestral crypt, exhume their revered ancestors and dance with them for a long time. Many relatives come from far and wide, sometimes travelling entire days on foot, only to attend these festivities. Not just a way to show respect, this ritual is also a chance for a family reunion and, most important, an act of love. The Famadihana is a ritual that concentrates the chaos of human existence in a few hours, so that the dead can experience once more the joys of life... until the next time. ‘Veloma ianao, razambe’ (goodbye, ancestors).