Posts Tagged ‘afterlife’

What do they believe?

In a country with millions of practicing animists, what are the prevailing beliefs like? Here is a brief explanation:

At the beginning of time the Creator was Zanahary or Andriananahary. Now the Malagasy worship one god, Andriamanitra, who is neither male nor female. (Andriamanitra is also a word for silk, the fabric of burial shrouds.)croc

Many rural people believe in ‘secondary gods’ or nature spirits, which may be male or female, and which inhabit certain trees, rocks (which are known as ody) or rivers. People seeking help from the spirit world may visit one of these sites for prayer. Spirits are thought to possess humans who fall into a trance-like state, called tromba by the Sakalava and bilo by the Antandroy. Some clans or communities believe that spirits can also possess animals, particularly crocodiles.

The Malagasy equivalent of the soul is ambiroa. When a person is in a dream state it can temporarily separate from the body, and at death it becomes an immortal razana. Death, therefore, is merely a change and not an end. A special ceremony usually marks this rite of passage, with feasting and the sacrifice of zebu. The mood of the participants alternates between sorrow and joy.

(From the Bradt Travel Guide, 9th ed.)

Jesus died and rose again so that these people, living in bondage to evil spirits, sin, and fear, may be changed. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24)..

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07 2009