Andriananahary Sends His Son to Earth

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(Betsileo, Malagasy, Merina/Madagascar)

Andriananahary, the supreme being, is the creator god, maker of earth and sky. But he had little to do with human affairs. Customarily, Zanahary is invoked to initiate ceremonials. The ancestral spirits are much more critical to a ceremonial's success. Andriamanitra is the sweet lord or the fragrant prince. There are four other sovereign lords, and each superintends one quarter of the world. Of these, the Lord of the East dispenses plagues and calamities among mankind, by the command, or permission, at least, of the great god. The others are also subservient to his commands, but are chiefly dispensers of his favors and blessings. The people look upon these four as mediators between men and the supreme being. God is the ruler and dispenser of events. Nothing is unknown to him. Rakelimalaza is venerated as the guardian of the sovereign and the kingdom. Ramahavaly administers to the sick, providing the most effectual remedies for disease. Fantaka and Manjaka-tsi-roa are the guardians of the sovereign and the royal family. Ranakandriana is noted for responding to those who salute him. Rakelimanjaka- lanitra, “little, but ruling the heavens,” protects the rice crops from hail by changing it into rain. Hasina, a life force possessed by any being, is a supernatural essence that makes something good or efficacious. Along with living people, dead ancestors and ghosts can manipulate hasina to work harm or good.

Andriananahary sent down his son Ataokoloinona to see if the earth was suitable for habitation, but Ataokoloinona disappeared into the ground and never emerged again. Andriananahary dispatched his servants, called men, to look for his son. They wandered all over the earth, suffering greatly, because the place was hot and rocky. From time to time, they sent back one of their number to God to ask for new orders, but these messengers, the dead, never returned. To help men in their search for his son, Andriananahary sent rain to cool the burning rocks and to make the soil fruitful.

Subjects: Religion.

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