Festivals in Antananarivo

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Antananarivo Festivals vary from traditional festivals that are celebrated only by the natives of Madagascar to some that have developed into international festivals, attracting crowds from across the world.

Festival of Hira Gasy

This festival is the epitome of Madagascar culture and folklore that is still largely unknown to the modern world. It is essentially a traditional form of celebration, complete with rituals dating back to the ancient, Malagasy culture. The story behind the Hira Gasy revolves around King Andrianampoinimerina who had come to the rescue of farming families on this island and became a celebrated figure. The first recorded rituals of the Malagasy entertainment date back to the 18th century but it is widely believed that the Malagasy culture prevailed for many centuries in and around Madagascar.

The festival of Hira is celebrated in many phases, and the Sasitehaka is the first phase. It is essentially a prelude to festivities that follow and is followed by the Renihira, or the second phase of actual performances. The Festival has a progressive theme and socio-economic issues like framing practices, weddings and other regional issues are discussed or portrayed in the form of dance.

The Festival is also reminiscent of Madagascar’s French colonial rule and the red uniforms worn by the artists represent the attire of the French army. The Hira Gasy is an excellent medium for exploring the native, tribal communities of Madagascar that are otherwise secluded from the commercial or tourist-favored destinations.

This Festival is usually celebrated in the month of June but visitors in Antananarivo can also ask for a festival-like performance from the locals. Such short performances are often offered in the form of travel packages offered in Antananarivo.

Madajazzcar Music Festival

This is perhaps Madagascar’s only globally-renowned music festival. It is counted among the most important jazz events on the African continent, attracting local and international performers. Usually held in October, this music festival is spread over 2 weeks. The daily schedule consists of concerts, musical workshops, cabarets and open-stage performances. Recently, screenings of short films from independent filmmakers has also been included.

Famadihana—Festival of Dancing with the Dead

The Famadihana isn’t recommended for young children. This is a slightly bizarre festival which has Death and funeral traditions at its core. Celebrated in Antananarivo and the rural centers of Madagascar, people extract the dead from their resting tombs. The bodies are then re-wrapped in fresh clothing and are re-laid in the tombs. The entire process is carried on with music and chanting forming an eerie background. This is one of the most celebrated tribal festivals in Madagascar and attracts thousands of curious, international visitors every year.

March 12, 2010 new by ak1980

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