Saturday, October 29, 2016

Dia de Muertos in Mexico

My perception of Day of the Dead or Dia de Muertos is this photo taken near Lake Patzcuaro at least thirteen years ago.  The night was cold.  It had rained.  The mud from turning the graves to clean for this day was soft and slippery.  However, the beauty was spiritual.

As one walked to this cemetery with many Purepecha peoples, the fragrance of the incense and the flowers assailed and surrounded one.  Then the eerie beauty of the lit candles along with all the families sitting at the graves of their loved ones was overwhelming in its purity.

The time was well after midnight and yet, children, teenagers, mothers and fathers along with grandparents were all there.  It's a sight that is seared into my mind's eye.  One I'll never forget.

The photo above is just one of many that I took while there for a week.  The prelude of photos of the flower stalls, incense and candle sellers along with the sugar skulls being sold in booths around the plaza in Patzcuaro could not begin to prepare one for the spiritual beauty and silence of these cemeteries.  This photo was taken near Ihautzio after going to Tzinzunzan and other small cemeteries. Happily, if I were to return to this area near Patzcuaro or other places in rural Mexico, their time of reflection and rejoicing would still be
very much like this.

Unfortunately, here in San Miguel going to the Pantheon or cemetery is a daylight activity.  Yes, it is a joyful, family affair, but more of a party atmosphere then a spiritual one.  At least that is my perception.  Families still create their altars in their homes, clean the graves and hold short vigils, but times are changing.

About five years ago, a group from Mexico City began a Calaca Festival and the whole atmosphere in San Miguel changed from the original intent of a spiritual thanksgiving to a parade of mostly grownups dressing as catrines and catrinas who come to the jardin to party.

Many locals, both gringos  and Mexican residents are not happy about this turn of events.  They are also not happy about the introduction of Halloween customs of candy giving, and costumes that dilute November 1 and 2 from its original intent.  It iss distressing to hear the Mexican locals, who seldom complain, say that they resent the intrusion of other customs from Mexico City and the United States.

Sad, but true, unfortunately, things change and not always for the best.  Commercializing a day of purity and spirituality is what is happening in San Miguel.  For those who come here for the first time, it is a lot of fun but for those that know the original intent it is disturbing.  The solution?  There is none - this is known as progress.............


Steve Cotton said...

Maybe the lesson of Day of the Dead is everything changes -- even customs and traditions.

Babs said...

Aah, Steve, interesting comment - except Day of the Dead in other parts of Mexico are still celebrated the same way as they were 300 years ago. Patzcuaro and the surrounding villages along with Xilitla and those villages come to mind.

But, we sure don't need Day of the Dead for change. We seem to be having tons of it in all walks of life here now.........the town is changing faster then most of us who have been here for a while can believe!

Thanks for taking time to comment........see you in January, hopefully.

La Tejedora said...

Barbara, thanks for describing your lovely, spiritual experience of Dia de los Muertos as it was originally intended.
Beautiful. Nora

Babs said...

Thanks Nora for taking time to comment. I so hope you're enjoying all the activities.
I'll be in town to see the children's parade tomorrow. Maybe we'll see each other!