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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 and their cuisine is so heavily dominated by rice, so that the term for eating a meal is simply "to eat rice".
Merina worship the water spirits, known as the [[Vazimba]] who inhabited the land before the arrival of humans and are believed to have supernatural power. The Merina bury the dead in tombs. [[Famadihana]] -
the ''turning of the bones'' - is a Merina custom. About 15 minutes south of [[Ambatolampy]] are on both sides of the national street RN7 nicely painted Merina tombs.