Fady, in Malagasy culture, refers to a wide range of cultural prohibitions or taboos. People, places, actions or objects may be the subject of fady, which vary by region within Madagascar. The taboos are believed to be enforced by supernatural powers, and are particularly connected with Malagasy ancestor worship. Although some are held nationwide, others may be particular to regions, villages or even individual families. Fady are an integral part of Malagasy identity and play an important part in community and identity formation.
Common prohibitions include those against pointing at a tomb, against the eating of eels by pregnant women and, for onlookers, against describing a newborn baby as ugly. New fady are created constantly. When a new initiative or business is started, a ritual offering (joro) must be made to prove that it is not fady. Those who break fady (ota fady in the infinitive) are shunned as unclean (maloto) and for endangering the community's spiritual balance, regardless of whether or not the infraction was deliberate. Foreigners in Madagascar are advised to respect local fady and alter their behavior accordingly.
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- Razafimpahanana, Bertin (1970). "Les Fady ou Tabous à Madagascar: Étude sociologique et Psycho-sociologique" (PDF). Annales de l’Université de Madagascar (in French). 11: 115–26.
- Ruud, Jørgen (1960). Taboo: a Study of Malagasy Customs and Beliefs. New York: Humanities Press. OCLC 4820312.