Yesterday, I attended the Day of the Dead celebrations at Harbourfront Centre.
Click on any photo for a larger image!
The Day of the Dead, or Dia de Muertos, is “a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and acknowledged around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. In 2008 the tradition was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world, being absorbed within other deep traditions for honoring the dead.”
In Mexico, “people go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them.”
Harbourfront Centre also had a series of altars, or ofrendas, on display.
The above photos picture an ofrenda for Amelia Hernandez Navarro. She was the founder of traditional dance group Ballet Folklorico Puro Mexico, and they in turn created this beautiful altar to honour her memory.
I was delighted to see “Calaveras y Colores,” a performance by Folklorico Puro Mexico. It featured traditional Mexican dance and music accompanied by guest singer Cecilia Guerrero (and the enthusiastic Spanish-speaking members of the audience, who knew every song).
After the show, the performers gathered at the front of the stage to meet the audience and have photographs taken.
I absolutely love the costumes and make-up!
After the performance, I visited some of the other ofrendas on display. This one was entitled “Ofrenda Prehispanica,” honouring the pre-Hispanic indigenous peoples and warriors of Mexico.
The bottom section (pictured above) is made out of dyed rice, lentils, and beans! I can’t imagine how much work it took to make it that beautiful and intricate!
Another incredible ofrenda was this one to Pablo Picasso. The artist is Alberto Cruz.
Here is an explanation of the elements of an ofrenda:
Another unique (and timely) ofrenda was “The Unknown Migrant”, created by Clay and Paper Theatre.
This ofrenda, honouring artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, features large-scale sculptures in addition to the other traditional altar elements.
Here is a little more about Jose Guadalupe Posada:
This ofrenda honoured Jose Clemento Orozco, who used his artwork to bring attention to social justice issues.
Many of the ofrendas, including Mr. Orozco’s, featured orange marigolds, which are “sometimes called Flor de Muerto (Flower of Dead). These flowers are thought to attract souls of the dead to the offerings.”
A holiday like the Day of the Dead can not only help loved ones deal with loss, but to remember the positive impact that the deceased had on their lives. It’s a beautiful celebration – of LIFE!
Day of the Dead celebrations continue today at the Harbourfront Centre (November 8th) from 12pm to 6:30pm. Hope to see you there!