In Madagascar the Present time is King. You may hear it everywhere people say Mora-Mora as it means to slow down or be calm. It more than a simple saying which goes around the island to transcribe a philosophy, it is a question of good manners which one must respect to understand the Malagasy culture. Here we tell you the most common that you need to know to better understand Madagascar and the Malagasy people.

We say “fady”.!

Most fady have interesting stories behind them and It an important part of Malagasy culture, it is translated as “taboo” or forbidden but can also mean that something is sacred and the concept covers certain customs and traditions, as well as moral guidelines. Some fady applies all over Madagascar, such as never pointing at a sacred place. Fady can pertain to animals such as never hunting a certain type of lemur because of folklore, or places such as sacred waterfalls in mountain reserves and in some area. Local guides are aware of Fady and will explain to guests, travellers should always be respectful of the respectful place.

Soothsayers and astrologers

We have “Mpanandro” and “Ombiasa,” they are asked to advise on major decisions such as holding a trip, Family advice help, or building housing even illness. But they are not the only ones that we consult. There is also “Mpisikidy” an expert in divination and adviser to kings and nobles. In my country, great importance is given to soothsayers. We are able to help you visit one of them if you are more curious to know more about them.

The “Tromba”

This is a rite of possession: this rhythm allows the Madagasikara People to communicate with the spirits of their ancestors. During this ritual, the possessed is generally embodied by a king who takes possession of his body to give advice to the living. This practice is used in crisis or disagreement situations.


Ancestor worship is very important in Malagasy culture. This funerary tradition is known as “the turning of the bones” or exhumation dance and contact with the dead. The deceased relative is removed from the family tomb and the body is wrapped in a new silk shroud, replacing the old one. This is done to honor the deceased and takes place roughly every 7 years depends on the family. It is also a time when family members come from near and far to have a lovely reunion and know each other. You can experience this culture every year from June up to September with us.


The Morengy is a young game that practices with Bara, Sakalava tribes, and weaponless traditional Madagascan martial art that is practiced mostly in the coastal areas and has even spread to neighboring islands like the Comoros and Reunion. This traditionally fights would take place on weekend after the first full moon of the month but these days you can experience the battles on most weekends or market days.


In Madagascar, all boys must go through this tradition of circumcision to be truly considered as men. In certain ethnic groups of the Big Island, the uncircumcised man cannot be buried in the family tomb or compared as Gay. Circumcision remains a tradition very anchored in the Malagasy society, but it tends to become more and more modern.

The elder first.

In my society, respecting one’s elders is a traditional custom that is still rigidly practiced mainly in countryside areas. Once a meal is served, no one is allowed to pick up their spoon before the elder does. This person may be a father, a grandmother, or a grandfather. Once they have lifted their spoon and started to eat, the rest of the family can start to eat as well. Before start drinking the alcohol, one must pour some drops on land for the ancestor to honor them as they are the elder of the elder for us.


witch means “Marriage”. The first step is locally known as “vodiondry” or “lamb’s rump”, which is a Malagasy couple’s formal engagement. This consists of inviting the groom to introduce himself in front of her family and formally ask for her hand. The men also have to present gifts to the bride’s parents and siblings.


This is known as a Blessing. In my country “Ny tso-Drano zava-mahery”, which literally means “blessings are powerful”. The Malagasy believe that the blessings from the family – represented mostly by parents and Grandparents – will help them to be successful in everything they do and will keep curses away from them. That the reason why we put the elder first and give them respect because of Blessing.

“Hira” & “Dihy”

It means Song & Dance. The Culture in Madagascar is also discovered through local songs, a form of spectacle very popular in the country. Every ethnic has its won local dance such as (Tsapiky in Toliara, Kilalaky in Morondava, Salegy, and Kawitry in the north. In the heart of the highlands region, discover this internationally renowned open-air opera hosted by peasant artists, proud to represent the culture of Madagascar and its customs. They are most often requested during weddings, births, or national festivals or even you can invite them to celebrate your family party.

National Party Celebrations

The first of January is New Year’s Day. Memorial Day is celebrated on 29 March for those who died in the French Malagasy War of 1949. International Women’s Day, when women are honored for their contributions, is the 8th of March. Madagascar’s independence from France in 1960 is celebrated on 26 June. The celebration of the Dead is held on 1 November and is a day devoted to ancestors and their burial grounds that can involve the building of elaborate tombs.

There is a variety of cultures that can find at each Tribes area but if you are a culture seeker, please feel free to contact us directly and let  your culutural local guide leads you around the country to discover all of them with the Friendly Tour guide team.