Antananarivo Local Customs

  • Mahamasina Stadium is being used to host June-July
    Mahamasina Stadium is being used to host...
    by Norali
  • What's in those baskets ?
    What's in those baskets ?
    by Norali
  • Reparation section :-)
    Reparation section :-)
    by Norali

Most Recent Local Customs in Antananarivo

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    Zoma mahafinaritra: Cool Fridays

    by Norali Written Apr 17, 2008

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    Or so are simply called Friday evenings. Friday evenings are cool because it’s, for urbanites, when week-ends begin. It's when it starts. It’s usually made for letting the steam off, partying, going out with friends, to clubs, cabarets, karaoke. “Zoma mahafinaritra” is now an institution, so is “Manal’azy”. For those Friday evenings, newspapers usually print out “l’agenda culturel”, a compilation of all cultural happenings in Tana. You’d expect them to do it esp. on long week-ends. My favourite “agenda culturel” newspapers is at Les Nouvelles. L’Express de Madagascar is quite interesting too. A big cons though: both dailies, like all we have here, are in written French.

    Now, you could always check it out at Hôtel Glacier (on Araben’ny Fahaleovantena, the main avenue downtown). They have those concerts, events bills sticked up at their door. Chances are they are in French. Guess you could ask about their program too since, imo, you don’t need to understand the language to appreciate Mozika Mafana. Mozika Mafana is the rhythm Cabaret Glacier is specialized in. Literally translated “Hot Music”, it’s about tropical rythms such as our salegy, our tsapiky made for dancing, partying. For who is in the know, salegy king Jaojoby is nearly a resident there, performing his art cabaret style. Not too big a room. Not that uncommon to see Merina folk groups perform vako-drazana either at Cabaret Glacier. Another cabaret spot I’ve heard good things of is Piment Café, located in Behoririka.
    You may check at your hotel too, as some like Radama, Palissandre, carlton (ex-Hilton) reportedly hold regular venues too.
    Else, Tana youngsters like karaoke a lot (not my stuff). I’ll give you addresses upon request.
    By the way, depending on finance, Zoma mahafinaritra in Tana can be a booze-up evening on the backseat of a car, parked in a parking lot. With all the kalin-taoka: fried chicken, kebabs, meatballs, snacks... mostly meat… to accompany all the booze. As simple as that… and… as long as it’s fun.

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    June 26, it is Independance day.

    by Norali Updated Feb 26, 2006

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    Independance day

    No office neither shop opens on June 26, it is Independance day.

    On the menu:
    - Procession in Mahamasina stadium
    - In the evening, at least in Tana countryside, families and musicians (drum and sometimes, fluts) go out for a procession with Chinese lanterns, sing, call other person to join them.. How I enjoyed it when I was a kid. :-)

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    "Manal' azy"

    by Norali Updated Nov 15, 2005

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    Mahamasina Stadium is being used to host June-July

    "Manal' azy" is an expression meaning "to let off steam". Textual meaning is "Get rid off it!". Well, this is about loosening up after exams. Exams period, for most pupils and students, ends end June- early July. Only University people and those who sit for Baccalauréat may still have exam in Mid-July.

    If you travel in Madagascar from end of June, you may go to some concerts in Tana. Most of time, they are named "Manal' azy" shows. At beginning, it was an expression launched by a very popular band in Madagascar. Now, every year, there are Manal' azy evenings, that involve several bands. What started as a one-night show now include Manal' azy shows that gather students for some days.

    This coincides with the June 26 celebration sometimes. End of June is a period of hectic nightlife for students.

    Also, month of June is the beginning of the Famadihana period too. Famadihana is the turning the bones celebration for Merina and Betsileo tribes. To know more about Famadihana, click here.

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    Having it mended, repaired, adapted...

    by Norali Updated Jun 3, 2005

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    Reparation section :-)

    In Tana, those scenes are very common: people repairing something ranging from tyres, shoes, umbrellas, copper antiques, chandeliers to upholstered items (chairs, car seats).. whatever. We are used to repairing, we don't throw things easily.

    Shoes, for instance... it is so common to keep many pairs of shoes with regular cleaning and use of leather wax, visits to the shoe repairer. I've kept the same habit in Brussels and eventually noticed that my shoe repairers' regulars are very often non-Belgians or those who owns those fabulous Todd's driver shoes, items from Michel Perry, Louboutin (I saw that once on his stalls), D&G, Chloe boots.

    In Tana, even far less valuable items have their visits to the shoe repairer.. and we clean and wax them very regularly. The lightest sign of worn heels is already a good excuse to have the pair of shoes "checked". Ooh! I am also glad to help small people earning their living honestly.

    Umbrellas.. in Tana, there are people who have their umbrellas repaired if they can't fix problems out.

    Mechanics garages, car repair services abund in Tana. Every street corner has its "garage" and "vulca" (to repair, mend tyres).

    On picture, these men were repairing working, hammering on some metallic pieces. I think it was for car repairing but couldn't see precisely for having snapped while driving by.

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    Hira Gasy

    by MikeAtSea Written May 27, 2005

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    Hira Gasy

    Like most cultural aspects of the country, Hira Gasy is totally unique to Madagascar. It's a traditional form of Malagasy entertainment that is said to have existed since 1789, and the rule of King Andrianampoinimerina. This king provided his people with farming tools and techniques so they would be able to feed themselves in times of famine or times of plenty; and mpikabary (orators) went to perform for them (including singers and dancers) to entertain them. The practice of Hira Gasy has been popular ever since to give thanks to their kings.

    Today, a Hira Gasy performance consists of several themes; each theme is made up of five phases, like Sasitehaka (a prelude, usually about ten minutes long). The main part of the Hira Gasy is the Renihira, which introduces the main theme of the performance. The themes can be about farming, social issues, weddings, or even trade. The songs linked to this theme can last for an hour our more.

    Today, many influences are adopted in the Hira Gasy, like the red uniforms worn by the French during their colonization of the island. Hira Gasy is sometimes staged during sacred ceremonies; these include Famadihana (the exhumation of the dead for reburial), the circumcision ceremony for one to seven year olds and other important events.

    Sometimes performances are also put on for tourists although these are often only for tour groups. For locals, Hira Gasy is done for public entertainment too, and in small towns and villages you may stumble across a traditional performance.

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    Because they have to, want to or can afford to ?

    by Norali Updated Apr 2, 2005

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    What's in those baskets ?

    It is a disturbant view to me to see women, usually from low class, carrying those big, voluminous, probably heavy loads on their heads.

    As a kid, it used to already intrigue me whether they don't have any man around to carry those baskets. For sure, that may be disturbant for Westerner eyes too. I've never seen any woman in my family carrying baskets like this and even when it's heavy, sons, nephews are there to carry those heavy loads..and whenever those gentlemen offer their help, they don't carry them on their heads, they weigh the loads with their arms, not on their head.

    So, my question "why then, those women use to carry those loads on their heads ?". Was it initially some exercise to provide them with this haughty, gracious manner of holding their head ? Stil a mystery to me... Sometimes, I see chicken, goose heads pending from the baskets... in countryside, it can be hays, sand, bricks..

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    Men use to wear malabary

    by Norali Updated Apr 1, 2005

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    Mean traditionally wear Malabary

    This cotton tunique is known as "Malabary". It is worn by Highlands men (Tana suroundings, Fianarantsoa as well). They wear a kind of tunique in a stripped or checked cotton material with pants and a hat.

    Circumcised kids wear it as well while waiting for the "wound" to heal up. Quite tough days for boys since circumcision is done in winter so as to ease cicatrization. Though it's freezing and they just wear Malabary without pants (!) till full cicatrization!!!

    During reburial (famadihana), descendants of re-buried ancestors use to wear uniform as well. In many cases, men in the family wear a Malabary of the same fabric. Women use to wear skirts of another fabric. Kids may wear same uniforms according to their gender as well.

    Business code in Tana requires business suit or more Westernized clothing, no business wears Malabary although you may find some wearing Malabary on week-end days and of course for traditional festivities.

    On the picture, this pousse-pousse puller of Antsirabe wears a Malabary. Since it's cold there, he seems to wear another piece of cloth with it.

    I had a nice surprise while meeting Indian Vter suri in Brussels in Nov 2003, he was wearing his kurta (spelling ?) which resembles our Malabary a lot.

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    Hira Gasy: oratorial, dance, musical contests

    by Norali Updated May 25, 2003

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    Ricefields plains that the great King had fit out

    Hira Gasy is Merina folk music. It's an expression means in a form of musical theater.

    Hira gasy was introduced by King Andrianampoinimerina, late XVIII century. After succeeding in gathering all Imerina region kingdoms, thus, building the only Merina kingdom, King Andrianampoinimerina tackled challenges so as to nourish the whole population. Tools were given to peasants, markets were settled, he had dykes built so as to fit out Betsimitatatra ricefields plains for instance.
    Thousands of peasants worked there. In order to encourage them and convey royal guidelines, Andrianampoinimerina sent his best Mpikabary (orators), singers and dancers on building sites, roadworks and ricefields. As works lasted, turns were arranged so as to allow villages to send their bands. Those bands went into rivalries and thus, Hira Gasy acquired quality and originality from this frenzy competition.

    To see further details on rules of Hira gasy, have a look at my below Tlogue "Hira gasy", in my Antananarivo page.

    In general, the show may last the whole day (from morning to late night). It serves as a means to arouse society's awareness on given concerns or to give life to sacred ceremonies ("Famadihana" or reburial; circumcision).

    Nowadays, Hira gasy shows may be seen in streets of urban Tana. In the past, they used to perform in Avenue de l'Indépendance area and it seems that they still perform there. Avenue de l'indépendance is the main avenue in urban Tana, the very one in front of main train station.
    Address: Streets of urban Tana + Countryside

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