The progressive westernization of Madagascar wedding is observed, albeit, many areas, especially the hinterlands still attach great value to traditional customs in Madagascar. This type of marriage is believed to suffice over civil and religious weddings in the Island country.
It is always imperative that the traditional Malagasy wedding is very codified and should be respected to the letter to the union in order to be made acceptable by the community and be declared legitimate and legal.
Generally, traditional weddings in Madagascar or a Malagasy wedding is surrounded by fascinating and unique traditions and rites. Depending on the regional customs and beliefs, the whole process can vary a lot.
The commonly worn traditional wedding dress is called “lamba”. This is essentially one or two pieces of fabric to wear. If two, one is worn around the chest or waist and the other piece is around the shoulders or head.
Broadly, the lamba is made of two parts; the lamba oany, which goes round the body, and the kisaly which is draped around the shoulders or head.
Lamba oany: this is a long tube of cloth made down the drop. It is always about 2 meters wide around the body before it’s sown. The standard drop is 1.50 meter, but this can be adjusted. It needs to be roughly armpit to ankle. Simply sow down the drop to make a tube.
Kisaly: this is a piece of material of the same cloth 2 meters by 2 meters.
This is worn around the chest by stepping inside the tube of lamba oany and hold it wide at the top between both hands. However, many women just manage to tuck it in, and which the knot can also be tied in the ends at the middle of the chest, thereby covering the knot by pulling a bit of fabric over it. The kisaly can be wrapped around the head in any way you like, or draped around the shoulders.
A lamba is the traditional garment worn by men and women of Madagascar and the textile is the true emblem of Malagasy culture, consisting of a rectangular length of cloth wrapped around the body.
Also, lamba serves as a symbol of the island’s cultural heritage, pride, and symbol of empowerment for Malagasy people.
Although western attire has ridden over Malagasy peoples’ clothing in terms of daily use among the young generations, but the lamba remains cherished by grandparents, who wear them on all on special occasions. It still accompanies most Malagasy at each important step of their lives. For instance, men offer cloth to their brides at marriage, a bride and groom are encircled in a single cloth to symbolize their union
Malagasy people boast of the beauty in lamba’s style and appearance, with the lovely design remaining indigenous to the island of Madagascar.
Lambahoany, a printed cotton lamba typically depicting a Malagasy everyday life scene, and featuring a proverb on the lower border of the design. Nonetheless, this attire is intended to document and add value to the cultural heritage.
The style of wearing the lamba likewise varies across regions and according to gender. Both sexes will wrap it around the waist, much like a sarong. Often times, Malagasy brides will wear it wrapped over or beneath the bust to form a sheath dress, often with matching lamba headdress. These styles can be paired with a tank top or other light shirt.
When it comes to men, they might drape the lamba over one shoulder as a shawl over shorts or in cooler weather over a malabary, which is a long-sleeved, knee-length cotton tunic.
Traditionally, among mature Merinaand and Betsileo women, wearing a narrower version of the traditionally white lamba around the shoulders is always a mark of "melegance, dignity, femininity and respect for tradition.
Narrow lambas may be worn like a sash. Men often drape them diagonally across the chest or knot them around the waist, while women may wear them loosely over the shoulders. The sash-like fashion became very popular due to European influence and is especially typical of the costume of hiragasy dancers.
Types of Lamba
1. Lamba mpanjaka
This is an occasional attire traditionally worn by the nobles, the rich, and the elders.
2. Lamba akotofahana
This is a woven silk fabric featuring highly complex geometric designs.
This is a traditional lamba often made of a blend of silk and raffia fibers.
4. Lamba arindrano
This traditional form of lamba is made of a blend of silk and cotton.
This is a type of lamba worn as a loincloth, and measures about 30cm in width and 300cm long.