Arts & Entertainment

Mexican cemeteries turn colorful again on the Day of the Dead

By Inés Amarelo

Mexico City, Nov 1 (EFE).- Thousands of Mexican families visited the country’s cemeteries Monday to decorate the graves of their loved ones and await the arrival of their souls on the occasion of the Day of the Dead, disrupted last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many families were at the Dolores cemetery, one of the most famous in Mexico City, to tidy up and decorate the graves.

“We visit them because (…) there is a belief that they come down to visit us and we receive them. We give them what they liked to eat or do. My father smoked and we lit a cigar for him,” Alejandra Corona, who went to the cemetery with her siblings, told EFE.

This year, fewer than usual people are visiting the cemetery, located in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park, the “lungs” of the Mexican capital.

The cemetery had an estimated 26,387 visitors between Saturday and Sunday.

The authorities last year asked citizens to celebrate at home and in small groups in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic taking almost 300,000 lives in Mexico.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had also declared three days of national mourning to coincide with the “Day of the Dead” celebrations.

Many cemeteries were closed to prevent crowds.

But this year, public activities returned due to the progress of vaccination.

“We came to visit my father and grandfather, who are in this chapel. My father died a year-and-a-half ago and grandfather more than 10 years ago,” said Jonatan Gutiérrez, a young man who was there with part of his family to clean the grave.

The tradition, which is cathartic for many, is being celebrated with extra enthusiasm this year.

The celebrations extend across the country and the western state of Michoacán, one of the most traditional.

“What I like is following the traditions of visiting the graves and decorating them. The cemetery looks very different with flowers. Last year, there was no opportunity (to do so),” Brenda Alejandra Ríos told EFE inside the municipal cemetery of Morelia, the state’s capital.

Morelia’s health authorities have decided to impose capacity and time restrictions to prevent Covid-19 infections, which has given rise to conflicting opinions among the visitors.

Moreover, municipal authorities allowed only three people per family access to the cemeteries, which has annoyed some citizens.

In over 30 villages surrounding Lake Patzcuaro, where the Day of the Dead traditions is deeply rooted, Purépecha Indians prepared to watch over the deceased in the cemetery.

Children, adults, and the elderly adorned the local cemeteries, reopened for tourism, with flowers, colored paper, candles, photographs, and other offerings, including food and drinks.

The Day of the Dead is Mexico’s most universal tradition, born from the syncretism between the pre-Hispanic vision of death and the Catholic customs brought by the Spanish conquistadors and colonists.

Between Nov. 1-2, Mexicans await the arrival of the spirits or souls of their departed loved ones and ancestors to visit and commune with them overnight at local cemeteries or to provide offerings to them in their homes, including the favorite dishes the dead had enjoyed during their time among the living. EFE

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