Malagasy Traditions

Discover the ancestral Malagasy traditions in the Highlands and in Madagascar:

In the Highlands

  • Adin’akoho: cockfights – a national sport

The best-known arenas are: Anosisoa, Ambohimangakely, Tanjombato, Ambatoroka and Andrady.

  • Famadihana: sacred ritual of ‘’the turning of the bones” or “body turning’’
  • Fandroana: ‘’bath of royal relics’’ ceremony
  • Fanorona: Malagasy chess game

Players regularly gather Place de la Pergola in Antaninarenina.

  • Hainteny: traditional Malagasy literature/poetry with the use of metaphor
  • Ira Gasy ou encore ‘’vakodrazana’’ (= ancestral tradition): traditional popular opera that mixes theatre, singing, dancing and oratory
  • Ohabolana: Malagasy proverbs
  • Kabary: oratory in the form of speech


In Madagascar

  • Afindrafindrao: dance that is often performed during celebrations 
  • Fijoroana: ritual that allows Malagasy people to invoke their ancestors
  • Fitampoho ou Fanompoambe: ‘’bath of royal relics’’ ceremony
  • Moraingy: Malagasy Martial art that looks like wrestling
  • Ombiasy ou Dadarabe: traditional healer – specialized in medicine, spiritual meditation and fortune telling or sometimes these three altogether
  • Ongan-janahary: mortuary art of the Mahafaly tribe
  • Savika: zebu rodeo that is practiced/performed by the Bestileo tribe
  • Sikidy: divinatory art that uses seeds and rocks
  • Tromba: possession demonstration – especially during the Fijoroana
  • Vaky soava: popular music
  • Wagangi: sorcerer doctor


There are numerous fady (= taboo) in the country, which can differ from region to region or visited sites.