Day of the Dead event honors departed loved ones

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MexiCulture constructed an altar in the Multipurpose Room to celebrate the life of deceased Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Photo courtesy of Brandon Paillere.

Students gathered on Nov. 2 to celebrate “Day of the Dead—Dia de los Muertos,” with food, fun and games. Cohosted by the Ecuadorian Club, Latin American Student Organization and MexiCulture, the event sought to educate students on the meaning behind the Day of the Dead while letting them partake in some of the holiday’s customary festivities.

Held in the Multipurpose Room, the event began with students drinking colada morada, a traditional Ecuadorian purple beverage that is imbibed during Day of the Dead. While attendees drank their beverages, an animated short was played that highlighted some features of the Day of the Dead holiday.

While the animation included festivities, food and skulls, it stressed the holiday’s importance as a time to remember dead loved ones.

The Day of the Dead is celebrated from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. Though the holiday was developed in ancient Mexico, in modern times it is celebrated internationally.

From Ecuador to the southern United States, celebrants visit graves of the deceased and offer their departed loved ones their favorite beverages, food and memorabilia in hopes that they will be visited by their loved ones’ souls. During this time, celebrants reminisce on the lives of their loved ones, often telling stories around their “ofrendas.” Dead infants and children are typically honored on Nov. 1 while departed adults are honored on Nov. 2.

A major part of the holiday is building an altar to celebrate the life of a departed love one. To demonstrate an altar to event attendees, MexiCulture constructed one in the Multipurpose Room prior to the event. Adorned with flowers, food and other offerings, the altar was dedicated to famed Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

“We wanted to honor [Kahlo] for her hard work in the social and political reform in Mexico and for being a woman that through her art work of self-reflection made a huge statement universally and especially in Mexico. We thought that [by] placing an ofrenda for someone as universal as Frida Kahlo we'd honor her spirit and the importance that it is to celebrate a life that once lived although we still remember her through her famous artwork,” said Cindy Perez, president of MexiCulture and a corporate communication major, via email.

During the festivities, members of AIESEC were invited to the microphone to give a brief presentation on internship opportunities in Mexico. AIESEC is a student organization that facilitates global student exchanges, allowing students to do volunteer or internship work abroad.

The members showed a short video that showcased Mexico, according to the video description, as not a country comprised solely of its stereotypes such as “charros, tequila … [and] fiestas” but for its innovators and thinkers. The presentation concluded with AIESEC members calling for students to learn more.

Hosts of the event as well as some attendees had skulls painted on their faces in elaborate detail. As another facet of the holiday, event organizers sought to let attendees experience the face-painting fun through a contest. Teams of two were selected to compete, with each team comprised of a painter and someone who would get his or her face painted. Painters had five minutes to create a meaningful or symbolic skull design on their teammates’ faces, which they then had to be able to explain in one sentence.

Winners of the contest received candy and a $25 gift card to Starbucks. Other features of the event included music provided by WBMB, as well as a photo booth. Food served included tamales, and attendees received gift bags filled with Mexican candy.

Celebrating the Day of the Dead holds great merit to the student population of Baruch, asserted Perez.

“We believe it's important that the Baruch Community celebrates the Day of the Dead—Dia de Los Muertos, because it’s a celebration of the lives that once lived,” said Perez. “Clearly, death is not something that any individual looks forward to but we want out Baruch Community to understand that in our culture we celebrate each spirit to remember them and not feel as sad of their death.”

The previous “Day of the Dead—Dia de los Muertos” event received the 2016 Undergraduate Student Government Bernie Award for Best Collaboration. This is the first year that MexiCulture has collaborated on the event with LASO and the Ecuadorian Club.

NewsVictoria MerlinoComment