I Can’t Wait Until Ritualized Corpse Exhumation Becomes Common in The West – Thanks Diversity!

There is a reason why we bury bodies and then leave them alone.

In Madagascar, ceremonies in which families exhume the remains of dead relatives, rewrap them in fresh cloth and dance with the corpses are a sacred ritual.

But an outbreak of plague sweeping the Indian Ocean island nation has prompted warnings that the macabre spectacle, known as the turning of the bones or body turning, presents a serious risk of contamination.

On a recent baking hot Saturday in Ambohijafy, a village outside the capital Antananarivo, a “turning” procession snaked through the streets in a fevered carnival atmosphere bound for the cemetery.

For the community’s few hundred residents, the time for “famadihana” — the local name for the ceremony — had arrived.

The unique custom, originating among communities that live in Madagascar’s high plateaux, draws crowds every winter to honour the dead and to honour their mortal wishes.

“It’s one of Madagascar’s most widespread rituals,” historian Mahery Andrianahag told AFP.

The customary ritual, rather than a religious rite, can be shocking for some, but for those taking part, it is an intense celebration accompanied by music, dancing and singing, fuelled by alcoholic drinks.

As the gathering in the Ambohijafy cemetery drew to a close, the bodies were carefully returned to their resting places after one last dance.

As soon as the ritual was over, the mats on which the bodies were laid were pulled up.

Veteran participants will store them under their mattresses until the next famadihana.

Looking after the mats is often seen in Madagascar as bringing good luck.

But some doctors warn that they can also transmit germs and infections.

And, at a time when Madagascar is enduring its most lethal outbreak of the plague in years, the practice of body turning has raised fears among health officials.

Since August, the disease has infected more than 1,100 people, with 124 deaths. Officials this week cautiously welcomed a slowdown in infections.

Health ministry epidemiologists have long observed that plague season coincides with the period when famadihana ceremonies are held from July to October.

  • Hard Little Machine

    Sounds like an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”.

    “We’ll be eating the exhumed corpses of plague victims. And it’s Trump’s fault.”

  • CodexCoder

    Isn’t this the same country with 124 dead and 1200 infected with Y.Pestis?

    • Drunk by Noon ✓

      Yes, yes it is!
      Good eye.

  • Oracle9

    Madagascar is dealing with pneumonic plague.
    Trudeau, now that medical issues are not a problem for immigrants, will be happy to bring half of them here.
    Canada is not THE progressive Western leader!
    I feel so virtuous!

    • Etobicoke_Gladiator

      Given the insanity of the vast majority of Trudeau’s policies, it’s hard to imagine he hasn’t exhumed the corpse of daddy Pierre to increase the phenomenal power of his radiant and oh-so-present virtue signaling skills! Shazam!

    • Trust me – this will be Justin’s next move.

      Get a cabin, seed potatoes and powdered Gatorade. You may need to head for the hills.


    • Starlord

      Per Trudeau, they care more than we do and will give more back to us… the plague.

  • Jaedo Drax

    Why aren’t they burning the bodies of the plague victims?

    • Drunk by Noon ✓

      I’ll have: “Why we call them primitive savages for $400, Alex!”

  • Scott

    Scattering ashes in provincial parks in Ontario has been legal since 2009 (https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/05/15/provincial-park-in-oakville-first-to-advertise-as-a-scattering-garden-for-cremated-loved-ones.html)
    Never mind the possibility of improper cremation leading to diseases in the water, provincial parks, etc.

  • Millie_Woods

    Tolerating third-world weirdness is a sacred ritual in western countries.

    • Etobicoke_Gladiator

      At universities it is the highest honour, next to bashing Caucasians and non-homosexuals!

  • Shebel

    Why would anyone Not want a Muslim grave yard beside there home ?
    Guess they are just Islamophobic.

  • occupant 9

    All I am allowed to know is that all cultures are equal and diversity is our strength … yabba, dabba, doo …

  • It’s one thing to respect customs that may seem strange to some. It’s quite another to not stamp this kind of sh– out.

  • Starlord

    Dear Lord it’s 2017 and we have evolved well most of us. It’s not 640 bc or 1400 yrs ago.. Let those dark days practises and ideologies stay there.


  • Starlord

    Dancing with rotten corpses… no wonder they have so many scientific and modern contributions to society….

  • Lightstream

    What a bunch of backward, barbaric people.

  • felis gracilis

    Well it appears that this is one particular bad custom that we can’t blame on a certain Religion of Peace. http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/religious-beliefs-in-madagascar.html