On site, you will meet Zeny Jacques who takes care of the maintenance of the sacred tree but also the museum that tries to gather a maximum of information on the history of Nosy Be. We can say that he is one of the last guardians of the tradition nosy beene, it is with him that we will discover the history of this banyan.
Where does the sacred tree come from ?
Ficus religiosa is a sacred tree in Hinduism and Buddhism. According to the history, it is under this tree that the founder of the Buddhist religion known the Awakening, this tree is since the object of a true place of worship. It bears many names: the Bodhi tree, the tree of knowledge or the tree of wisdom. These cult that brought this tree to many parts of the world, including Madagascar, indeed Hinduists and Buddhists have the habit of planting one in the places where they settle
How many sacred trees are there in Nosy Be?
In Nosy Be, there are several sacred trees of Indian origin, but not all have been blessed and sacred by royalty. The sacred tree of Mahatsinjo was planted around 1800 in Mahatsinjo by Indian traders and declared sacred by Queen Sakalava Tsiomeko. Mahatinjo was made sacred because it is the place of the first installation of the queen on the island of Nosy Be after her exile, she stayed there for more than 6 months with 12 000 people before settling on Hell town.
How to recognize a sacred tree?
Each sacred place is surrounded by red and white fabrics to honor the spirits that are there, these are the royal colors sakalava (Zafinimena Zafinifotsy). These places are considered as a place of communication between heaven and earth, more precisely, between man and God, because in sakalava culture, “Razana” spirits live in the tree and play the role of intermediary between men and God.
What is the sacred in Nosy Be today?
Today the sacred tree of Mahatsinjo remains a high place of worship and prayer for the Sakalava people. Each month, more than 300 Malagasy and foreigners come to pray in this sacred place, to do so they make vows and when it is realized, offerings are deposited. In general we offer honey, rum, coins or red and white fabrics. And for the biggest demands and events, a zebu. The newlyweds often go there to make vows and solicit the blessing of God through the ancestors, for the survival of their life as couples.