Religion in Madagascar

The difference is a richness. What is more enriching than learning new things about a country, a civilization, a culture. This article takes you to the big island of Madagascar, with its population and its religion. Discover with us the different confessions that exist in this African country. Gain more knowledge and expand your field of vision.

The Malagasy religion, between culture and history

The Malagasy believe in the existence of a God. Practicing, attached to their culture, their perception of the divinity varies according to their religions and the mixing of their territory. While professing a traditional religion, more than half of the Malagasy are animists. However, Christians represent an important percentage of the population. Other religions have appeared following the immigration of foreigners, notably Indians and Muslims.

Traditional religion: the cult of the ancestors

The deceased ancestors hold an important place in the eyes of the majority of the Malagasy. Intercessors, guides, the ancestors or « Razana » bless, protect and can punish the living. Having broken taboos, the Malagasy must make offerings or animal sacrifices to restore their union with the « Razana ». During your visit to Madagascar you can discover the ceremony of turning over the dead or « famadihana » which consists in honoring the dead by wrapping them in new shrouds. The northeast corner of the house, « zoro firarazana », is also dedicated to the ancestors during the festivities

Madagascar and the Christian religion

Nearly 42% of the Malagasy population is Christian. Influential, the main Christian churches are Protestant and Catholic, followed by Orthodox and Anglican churches. Being evangelized in 1820, Madagascar welcomed English Protestant, Norwegian Protestant and French Catholic missionaries. It was Queen Ranavalona II who encouraged evangelization in 1869 and allowed the expansion of Christianity. Later, syncretism which combines Christianity and ancestor worship appeared among the Malagasy.

The Muslim religion

Arabs and Muslim traders are at the origin of the rise of Islam in Madagascar. Growing, the Muslim practitioners represent 15% of the population. Including Arab, Comorian and Indian Muslim immigrants, the Islamic community is spread throughout the northern and central part of Madagascar. Don’t forget that the structure of some Malagasy words and greetings are legacies of Arab immigration. Currently, the Muslim religion and its holidays are recognized by the Malagasy State.

The Hindu religion in Madagascar

The « Karana » of Madagascar refer to the inhabitants of northeast India. A minority, the Hindus or Banians represent about 10% of the Malagasy community and are settled in the coastal regions and the Central Highlands. Coming from a hierarchical society, a caste system governs the religious organization of Hindus. Note the Brahmins, Darbars, Wania, Sonis, Darjees, Soutars, Khumbars, Dobi, Nimvats and Motchis. These castes all have representatives in Madagascar.

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