Alahamady Be

Alahamady Be

First new moon in March
Alahamady Be is New Year's Day in Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, located off the southeastern coast of Africa. The Malagasy new year traditionally begins in March. Alahamady Be is celebrated with the appearance of the year's first new moon. Festivities last for two days. People put on their best clothes, feast, give presents, and sing religious songs. The celebration is particularly festive in the capital city of Antananarivo, which means "town of a thousand warriors." The townspeople make their way to the sacred royal hill known as Ambohimanga, meeting at what was once the site of the queen's palace to offer prayers to the departed. When these devotions are completed it's time to eat.
A favorite food is romazava, which is made from meat and herbs and eaten with rice. Sausages, vegetables, and wine made from rice or cane sugar often round out the meal. The feasting is an opportunity for families and friends to get together and wish each other luck in the coming year. Because it is not unusual in Madagascar for Christian beliefs to be combined with traditional customs and practices, Christian hymns are often sung on New Year's Day.
CONTACTS:
Madagascar Embassy
2374 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-265-5525; fax: 202-483-7603
www.madagascar-consulate.org
SOURCES:
FestWrld: Madag-1999, p. 8