An Anniversary… of a sheep’s butt

Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Blog, Uncategorized | 3 comments

An Anniversary… of a sheep’s butt

You read that right… Jamie and I had our 10-year vodiondry anniversary November 2.  Vodiondry in Malagasy is literally translated as sheep’s butt, so yes, in fact we did celebrate our 10th sheep’s butt anniversary!  Or in other terms, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary of when we got married Malagasy-style.  The name for this Malagasy wedding ceremony between the families… you guessed it… sheep’s butt or vodiondry.  This is because often a sheep is given as part of the bride price and the oldest person attending the wedding gets the sheep’s butt to eat because it’s the most tender meat and the oldest person usually doesn’t have any teeth… makes sense, right?!  Yeah, me neither.

Anyway, we didn’t really celebrate our anniversary, mostly because we didn’t even think about it though it is written on the calendar.  In fact we haven’t even said “happy sheep’s butt” to each other yet.  Maybe we’re just that old married couple now.  Or not.  I did think of it though when I was going through and deleting some of 46,002 pictures in our iPhoto last night.

So… in honor of our 10-year vodiondry anniversary, I thought I’d share the festivities with you.

Unfortunately my own flesh-and-blood family couldn’t be here with us so I had a close Malagasy family represent me.  The night before the vodiondry I slept in the family’s 1 room tin house… windows shut, no fan, in the hot and muggy season… perhaps the hottest night of sleep non-sleep I’ve ever endured.  

The day unfolded a little something like this…

the house was ready…(note the rather large dried fish leaning against the side of the house)

a good friend, Kazy and I.  Kazy acted as one of my “sisters”.  that’s a type of ground up wood mixed with water to make a paste and then applied to our faces, as a “beautifier”.

everyone dressed in traditional Sakalava attire for the occasion…. here’s the ladies in Jamie’s family…

(L to R) Bebe (Jamie’s Malagasy grandma), KariLynn (sister), Bonnie (mom), Shelly (sister) and Vola (like a sister)

Jamie and the guys in his family approaching the house.

(L to R) Rich (dad), Pastor Tovo, Jamie, Mamisoa (back row), Wilfried (brother-in-law), Joel, Armand, Tiana

the two families packed into the house… (this is my side represented)

and lots of spectators enjoyed from the door…

after the initial greeting and Jamie stating his intentions, Jamie and his family stepped outside to gather the brideprice.  Jamie’s dad, Rich, is counting the money…

and then the livestock portion of the brideprice started coming in…. Tahiry with a basketful of chickens

and Heritiana with some roosters…

in the end there were a couple of geese, chickens, roosters, turkeys, rabbits and a sheep… (my family declined the lemurs)

and two cows…

brother-in-law, Wilfried is acting as Jamie’s family spokesman… presenting the money and yes, even bargaining the brideprice…

this whole time, me and my “sisters” are under these lambas, completely covered, completely drenched in our own sweat…

finally… the time comes for Jamie to choose which one is his “wife”… he picks and misses, picks and misses, picks and misses, every time having to pay more money… and finally picks and is successful! (note Jamie’s fabulous shoes made of tire)

the lamba Jamie presented to me… a bit of a “wedding gift” so to speak… the translation, “I’m really happy that I have found a good wife”… coconut trees are symbolic here in terms of a happy couple because it means the couple will settle down together for a long time… because that’s how long it takes for coconut trees to bear fruit (i.e. children)…

celebrating…

no vodiondry is complete without the traditional Sakalava couple pose… the Sakalava are the Malagasy tribe in our region and typically they’re loud and boisterous but when a couple poses together for a picture, all smiles drop and there’s a good foot in between the two…

Jamie’s new family…

my new family…

our exit vehicle, an oxcart, complete with our “just married” sign…

the happy couple…

So, here’s to our 10-year anniversary… hoping for another 10 years x at least 6!

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing the whole event – I never did know all that was involved. Those pictures are really priceless and I’m sure your kids love looking at them and asking questions! Crazy what changes 10 years has brought and impossible to even begin to guess what the next 10 will bring (hopefully some visits from us!). 😉

  2. Happy 10th anniversary Malagasy style. I loved re-living this event through your amazing story telling and photos. Really got a kick out of all the animals that you all received and the price paid for you! This story makes me smile and brings joy to my heart. Pleased that you kept this very important moment in your life within the culture of the people God has called you to minister to. Loved the bark and mud make-up and your hair do. You guys look so young and so in love. Life is good!
    lol mom

  3. LOVE the coconut trees story and the “traditional Sakalava couple pose.”
    A great post, a great story and a great family!
    Happy Anniversary you two.
    Enjoy your sheep’s butt. 🙂

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