Fitampoha is one of traditions observed by the Sakalava tribe in the region of Menabe which is located in the west of Madagascar - from Toliara in the south to Sambirano in the north. Nowadays there are about 700,000 Sukalava people.

Sakalava woman
Sakalava woman

In Fitampoha local people celebrate the relics of their dead members of the royal family. Such relics are called Dady.

Fitampoha includes so called Dady wash or the bath of royal ancestors' relics. Such relics usually include teeth, hair and finger nails. To clean the relics people use dusters, honey, olive oil, vegetable soaps (fihositry). The relics are kept in the sacred house or Zomba. The Zomba is located in the village of Belo Tsiribihina.

Everything during Fitampoha is organized by the royal family and the guard of Dady. Huge feast is prepared. The tribe slaughters about 20 oxen for the ritual. The ritual itself is performed in the sacred Tsiribihy river in July (Asaramanitra month) every ten years.

There are nine relics of the Menabe kings - Andriamisara , Andriamandresy , Andriamihamigna (Andriandahifotsy), Andriamanitriarivo, Andrianilainarivo, Andriatoharanarivo (Toera's father), Andriamanotroarivo (Narova), Andriamandrainarivo (Resaotsy) and Andriamihoatsiarivo (Kamamy's father).

The relics (hair, nails, teeth and bones) and cayman's teeth are kept in a bag. The bag is put in a big iron trunk. The trunk is kept the Zomba (sacred house). Only the relics guard can enter the house.

Sakalava people
Sakalava people

Fitampoha is an ancestor cult but also a way to show supernatural powers of members of royal family. Fitampoha is a chance for the ancestors' spirits to contact the people through „bilo“ or possessed people.

Fitampoha has more earthly meanings too. It is an occasion for the people settle disputes between each other.

During Fitampoha members of the royal family perform the Iohavony ritual. There they pray for the ancestors' blessing to the members of the tribe.

It is not allowed to make burials during Fitampoha. Families who lost dear ones just before Fitampoha can not attend the ritual.