Seeking Tso-Drano (or "blessings")
Malagasy people traditionally ushered in the New Year - called Alahamady Be - with the arrival of the first new moon in March. But these days we echo the rest of the world and celebrate from December 31st to January 1st.
Despite embracing modernity, our custom of seeking Tso Drano on New Year’s Day still endures. This entails the younger generation visiting their elders and expressing their respect and gratitude for their wisdom and support by offering bags of grains, beans, chickens etc. One's offering was determined by personal resources, the number of elders one had to visit and the magnitude of an elder's assistance during the preceding year.
This practice can potentially last several days or even weeks! For example, if a couple recently got married, it’s befitting that they visit and thank all the elders who attended their wedding and supported them. If they had a big wedding (which Malagasy weddings generally are) this can obviously last a few weeks.
These days though, instead of coming with a wagon full of produce and livestock - lol, the youth present their elders with envelopes containing monetary gifts. Despite this material shift, the essence of seeking Tso Drano remains unchanged; in return for tokens of appreciation, the elders bestow upon the youth their verbal blessings.
Malagasy people believe that the words of our elders provide the strength and guidance needed to face the complexities of the present and the uncertainties of the future. This custom reflects our enduring belief that elders are a source of hope and strength which shape the path forward for the entire family.
UNITY ACROSS THE DIASPORA: A Journey Along the Tsiribihina
One of our favorite things about introducing Madagascar to people is creating spaces that highlight the threads connecting communities across the diaspora. We shared a moment like this with a group crossing the Tsiribihina River. For three days and two nights, far removed from the underpinnings of modern life, we drifted down river and set up camp along its shores.
Despite our remoteness, a heart-warming discovery awaited. Following a lively night of a Kilalaky (music and dance from South-Western Madagascar), the village girls awoke to the lingering embers of the night's fire and revelry and picked up where they had left off. At what must’ve been 6:30am, an impromptu Part II of the night's celebration unfolded on the riverbank. Members of our group joined the local dancers and the musicians followed suit.
After the initial dancing petered off, it was evident that there was still a desire to share and connect. In a twist that bridged continents a hand-clapping game unfolded and took center stage. To our surprise, the girls played the exact same clapping patterns that the women from our group had learned when they were little girls. Across the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans, a thread of continuity emerged through a simple yet powerful game. In that moment, encircled by the rhythm of our hands, we witnessed a testament to the enduring connections that bind us, transcending languages, borders, oceans, and generations.
TUMERIC: A Versatile Wellness Ally
With a rich tapestry of endemic flora, Madagascar has long embraced naturopathic medicine. It’s our timeless secret to maintaining our beauty and health.
This golden spice - turmeric - is a staple in our wellness routine. Lucky for everyone, this particular gem is globally accessible and can be found in the pantries of health enthusiasts across the world.
A brief Google search will unveil a plethora of benefits associated with turmeric consumption:
natural antibiotic qualities
strengthening of ligaments
treatment of skin disorders
alleviation of coughs
management of depression
detoxification of the liver
In its natural form it looks like orange colored ginger. If you use it this way, handle it with care because it will literally leave its mark and stain whatever it touches. (Which is great to use as a natural dye!) Below are a myriad of ways turmeric, in both root and powder form, can elevate your well-being and daily rituals.
1. Natural Clothing Dye
Embrace turmeric's vibrant hue and use it as a natural clothing dye. Simply boil the root in water and submerge your clothes for an earthy tint.
2. Citrus Juice Booster
Elevate your favorite citrus juices by adding a knob of turmeric.
3. Poultice for Inflammation
Pound turmeric into a poultice and apply it to inflamed areas.
4. Tea Elixir
Shave turmeric into slices and boil it up for a soothing tea. If you really want a treat: boil it up with some milk (dairy or non-dairy), add ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper and honey - thank us later!
5. Skincare Marvel
Stir the turmeric juice or power into your face mask and enjoy a healthy glow.
6. Powdered Potency
No fresh turmeric root? No problem. You can still harness the benefits with turmeric powder. Mix the powder into any of the applications mentioned above for similar results.
The possibilities are endless. Dive into experimentation, savor its benefits, and share your experiences with us. If you've already incorporated turmeric into your routine, let us know your favorite method. If not, tell us what inspired use you're eager to try.
Check out the experiences we have scheduled thus far for this year. All of them are collaborations - meaning they will headline a niche tour leader - except for the Catamaran Trip (offered uniquely by the Madagascar Experience). Best of all, they are open to the public, which means you can join us!
For more info, click here