13.0k readers

12 Facts on Famadihana, The Body Snatching Religious Ceremony of the Merinas

Updated November 6, 2017 13.0k views12 items

Everybody loves a great party, and nobody wants to miss out just because they're dead. In the deep highlands of Madagascar, the Merinas people have a longstanding tradition of digging up and partying with dead relatives; they call it "Famadihana," or "The Turning of the Bones." The Western World has come to know this ritual as "Dancing With the Dead."

Held in the winter months in the deep highlands of Madagascar, this seemingly bizarre and morbid festival represents a beautiful, unique and honest form of ancestor worship. Unlike other forms of worship, which seek to prolong life indefinitely, the Merinas only seek to enjoy existence long enough for it to matter. The more you learn about Famadihana, the clearer it gets: This day of death is about life, and the love of living behind it. It's not so much the ritual itself that's important, but the ideas behind it. 

Some choose to lie down in the face of mortality, and some choose to weep. The Merinas of Madagascar choose to dance, and there might be some lesson in that for everyone.