Fady, belief, or taboo has a vital purpose in the lives of Madagascar people for their employment, social and foodie way of life.
Madagascar people have a mixed ancestry, with ancestors mainly drawn from Indonesia and eastern Africa.
The importance of fady, beliefs or taboos cannot be minimized in Madagascar and throughout the world. Sharing the same beliefs allows people to identify with their clan and community.
What is a fady?
Fady in Madagascar is a strong wide range of beliefs that vary by region and clan to clan. Fady is related to hospitality, habits eating plants and animals, behavior towards elders, burial and child-rearing practices, and working activities.
A belief, taboo or fady can be translated as a prohibition, referring to what one is not allowed to do, objects that one must not come into contact, words which must not be uttered and places which must be avoided.
The offender of the fady becomes taboo to the environment, family and the community. By not observing ancestral fady, or by observing them only selectively, individuals bring dishonor to their ancestors and can find themselves socially alienated from their community.
Fady days are among the many customs in Madagascar determined by the vintana or destiny structure, which is a universal belief throughout Madagascar. In general, the vintana system requires that sowing and harvesting, marriage and burial, and various kinds of important work must take place, or not take place, on certain days of the week.
Any given day may be lucky or unlucky, every day and every month has its vintana character. For example, Wednesday is an evil day. If one starts working in the rice fields on a Wednesday, there will be no harvest.
On the other hand, Wednesday is a good day for burials. Thursday is dangerous. It might cause death in the village and it is fady to have burials on this day. Saturday is children’s day. It is an unfortunate day for grand events and important work. The morning is good on Sunday but the afternoon is evil and dangerous. It is therefore fady to work on Sunday, especially in the afternoon.
Other localized Madagascar fady’s deal with food; hunting lemurs is fady to certain clans, and forests are treated with respect and fear as it is the place where sacred ancestors and spirits live.
Children are forbidden from eating eggs and chicken, and sweet potatoes can only be eaten as soon as they are dug up. Chickens are considered dirty, and eggs are believed to make women and children mute.