(Also Zanaharibe)

”Zanahary who made hands and feet

Zanahary is the supreme deity and creator god of the Madagascan pantheon. His wife is the goddess Andriamanitra (“sweet, or fragrant, lord”), though this god has both male and female aspects, existing in earthly and heavenly form. Currently, the worship of Zanahary coexists with Christianity among the Malagasy.

In the beginning, Zanahary created all things on heaven and Earth, arranging the growing things harmoniously throughout the world. But even with all of the beautiful plants, rivers and stones he made, the world was still desolate, for he did not make any animals. Soon thereafter, Ratovoantany (who some believe is the earthly Zanahary) sprang up like a plant from the ground and Zanahary found him drying humans made from clay. Ratovoantany could not breathe life into his little people so he asked the supreme god to do so. Zanahany would agree to do so only if the people would live in heaven.

Finally, a compromise was reached. Zanahary would give the creatures life, and they would dwell on the earth, but he would have the power to take away that life, at which time they would come and live with him in heaven. An alternate version of the story continues with the two aspects of the god (earth and heaven) fighting over the animals, continuously giving life and taking it away.

In present day Zanahary worship, the god is invoked in any traditional prayer. He is present in all sacrificial rites as well, in the tata or prayer. Communication between Zanahary and the “alive ones” (olombelona) is done through a man’s ancestors (razana), who are considered to be almost gods on earth and the source of all life-force on earth.


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