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The Info List - Malagasy Mythology



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MALAGASY MYTHOLOGY is rooted in oral history and has been transmitted by storytelling (angano "story"), notably the Andriambahoaka epic, including the Ibonia cycle.

Traditional mythology in Madagascar
Madagascar
tells of a creator deity referred to as Zanahary, and the division of Heaven
Heaven
and Earth
Earth
between Zanahary and his son, Andrianerinerina , a rebellious hero and frequent theme of their worship as the son of God. In contrast to Andrianerinerina, the word Andriamanitra (the Merina term for "Fragrant Lord") is used to refer to revered ancestors.

Ancestors are generally viewed as a benevolent force in the life of the living, but among some Malagasy it is believed that the spirits of ancestors may become angatra (ghosts of the dead) if they are ignored or abused. Angatra are believed to haunt their own graves and bring disease and misfortune to those living who offended them. A particular type of angatra is kinoly: beings which look like people but have red eyes and long fingernails and disembowel living people. Rituals such as famadihana - rewrapping the bodies of the dead every 5–10 years in fresh lamba (handmade cloth) - are believed by some to prevent kinoly due to the traditional association of the lamba with hasina , the mystical and sacred life force. Beliefs relating to the powers and activities of the ancestors vary greatly from community to community within Madagascar.

The declarations or actions of ancestors are often the source of fady (taboos) that shape the social life of Malagasy communities. Across Madagascar, lemurs are often revered and protected by fady. In all of the origin myths of the Indri (in Betsimisaraka dialect: Babakoto), there is some connection of the lemur with humanity, usually through common ancestry. There are numerous accounts of the origin of the Indri in particular, but all characterize lemurs as sacred, and not to be hunted or harmed.