Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sambatra


            Sambatra is a huge circumcision celebration here in Madagascar.  It only happens every three years, so I was very fortunate to be in Madagascar and living in the Sudest when it was going on.  I attended only the second to last weekend, but the festival itself last the whole month of October.  Circumcision is an important event in Malagasy culture and all circumcisions are accompanied with a party.  Although most circumcision celebrations are just with family and friends, Sambatra brings together people from all over the region for one joint celebration; as well as people from all over Madagascar to witness it.  The actual cultural celebrations do not last all day, but are only for a few hours each day.  These celebrations also differ each day.  The fist day that I was there I witnessed a
parade of all the people that were taking part in the celebrations.  The procession was led by the males, dressed in traditional clothes, some carrying battle sticks and shields and others with horns or conch shells which they used as horns.  The males were then followed by the females, also dressed in traditional clothes and carrying bottles of soda.  All of them, males and females, were singing and chanting as they danced down the street.  Each tribe in the region has their own trano-be (big house) where they do their individual cultural celebrations; although these do not differ from trano-be to trano-be they are done with just that tribe.  At one of these events I saw a reenactment of a battle between the men. 
            Outside of the cultural events, the air in town is that of a festival; much like you would see at a county fair.  There are vendors lining the streets selling their goods, stands set up with ‘fair type’ games, alcohol stands, a stage for live music, and rides like a farris wheel and obstacle course.  Most of these we did not partake in, but wondered around in the mass of people observing the sites or hanging out at the hotel with the other PCV’s.  






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