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The Merina people are of Malayo-Polynesian origin, which reflects in their appearance: they have light brown to very dark skin colour and their hair is straight. Most Merina houses are built of bricks and mud, sometimes even two-storeyed. Almost each village has a church, often even two: Catholic and Protestant. The Merina are rice farmers. [[Famadihana]] - the ''turning of the bones'' - is a Merina custom.