TOMPONDRANO – “Lord of the waters.” The supreme snake deity in Merina mythology. Not only were all other serpents subordinate to Tompondrano but he often acted as an ambassador between snakes and human beings, negotiating the end to conflicts between the two groups.
A major myth about this deity includes its role in advising the Vazimba how to use sacrifices to appease gods and demons. The Vazimba were little people who were previously the dominant race of Madagascar. They are similar to the Menehune in Hawaiian myths and to “little people” who figure into mythology and folklore from around the world.
One day a Vazimba boy was playing with a seven-headed serpent monster. That serpent decided to keep him and make him live with him under the water. The Vazimba prayed to Tompondrano to save him. Tompondrano advised the Vazimba boy to be patient, then sent the Kingfisher bird to the Vazimba’s parents with word that sacrificing a chicken and a sheep to the seven- headed serpent would appease it and get it to release their son.
The couple did so, the boy was released and Tompondrano rewarded the Kingfisher bird by making its wings more beautiful. The Kingfisher bird was regarded with a certain superstitious awe by the Merina people, as were large water snakes. There was a taboo on killing such lord of the water snakes and if the corpse of such a snake is found it is wrapped in silk like human corpses. This is done to show respect to Tompondrano.
An alternate version of this puts the Vazimba in the dominant role and says they rewarded Tompondrano with godhood and the Kingfisher with beautiful wings as a reward for aiding their son.
I’LL BE EXAMINING ADDITIONAL MERINO DEITIES IN A FEW DAYS.
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