SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY, CA — Members of the Mexican Heritage Center and Gallery in Stockton, CA, remembered their loved ones by elaborating on “ofrendas” (altars) in their memory; while communities in Mexico and other Latin American countries observed the memory of their loved ones in celebration of “Dia de Muertos” (Day of the Dead).
“As you place a candle on the altar you are illuminating the way for the soul,” said Rudy Garcia, retired professor and day of the dead expert, as he explained the tradition at the Mexican Heritage Center. His full explanation allowed participants to continue a tradition which is estimated to have survived the native tribes of Mesoamerica.
Other organizations took advantage of November 2nd, all souls day, to promote their social causes as in the case of non-profit agency Fathers and Families of San Joaquin. Fathers and Families mobilized a community to gather at Stockton’s Catholic Cemetary to, “heal the wounds caused by violence in this community,” said Samuel Nuñez, Director of Fathers and Families.
“This event seems important considering the raising violence in this community,” shared Nuñes as participants elaborated a community altar, “It’s important that we honor the children we are losing to this violence.”
In its majority those who practice day of the dead, simply elaborate their particular altars to remember their loved ones in the privacy of their home. Juan Clemente, Modesto resident elaborated an altar in honor of his mother who died four years ago in Michoacan Mexico. “My Mom is always with me and we find it important for our children to known who their grandma was,” Clemente explained.
This year, the flexibility in communication that social Medias offer, some shared their independent altars across the world via digital photos and videos.
Veronica Solís of Linden, CA
For more than 30 years the Solis family puts together an altar each year in their home. Today there are 12 candles that give light to their ofrenda (offering), candles that also represent each of their loved ones who have died, including Alberto B. Ortiz (1978) and Gabriel martinez (2010). ”
“Our altar is dedicated to all the migrants who have come from our towns for many centruries.”
Pablo Rodríguez Sacramento, CA
“It is our altar dedicated to the migration our people have made over centuries.
There is no man as blind as he who chooses not to see. Worst yet-he who chooses not to understand that the blood that runs through our bodies pre-date the lines that now divide up our land.
We offer our altar to our muertos who through their actions taught us of our clear connection to the earth and sun. To walk through life with our feet firmly on the ground and our heads held up proudly to the heavens.”
Elisa Gomez Degranados Turlock, CA
“I am from Jalisco and in my family we did not have the altar making tradition but over the years we started to do it. I decided that we should do this tradition since my nephews and nieces did not get a chance to meet my grandfather Rodolfo and my grandparents Ramon and Ramona and other love ones that have passed on. The altar needs to have the 4 elements (Fire= candles, Wind= papel picado, Earth= fruit and bread, Water= water in the bottles and flower vases) and then we add things that the dead loved to do when in life. When putting the alter we always talk about our love ones and what they liked in life such as my grandmother Ramona was always praying to the Virgen De San Juan (so here we added a candle of the Virgen and rosary) and grandfather Rodolfo was always happy and celebrated by drinking some Vodka (so we put his bottle there). You see the one thing we all realize is… death is even and no matter who you are… nobody gets out of it.”
Sacramento’s Gallery La Raza Galería Posada
Maricela Miran of San Jose,California
Luis Enrique Flores in