Saturday, October 29, 2016
Dia de Muertos in Mexico
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.............