By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla
Mexico City, Oct 31 (EFE).- With elaborate skeleton costumes and brightly colored dresses and other paraphernalia, amid joyful fanfare Mexico City held its huge Day of the Dead parade on Sunday, this year with greater verve than ever after the 2020 event was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Considered to be the largest Day of the Dead parade ever, the procession featured 10 floats and about 1,000 parade participants, including music stars and 350 dancers and acrobats.
For five hours, the parade wound for 8.7 kilometers (5.4 miles) through capital avenues to salsa and cumbia rhythms, with the thousands of spectators cheering and applauding the various performances and the colorful costumes and decorations as the procession made its way from the huge central square known as the Zocalo to the Campo Marte, passing along the Paseo de la Reforma.
This year, in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the conquest by Spanish conquistadors of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City, the parade also included dance groups outfitted in indigenous finery moving to the beat of drums.
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.
On 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 “It’s wonderful, incredible. It’s the first time that we’ve come to Mexico and you can see that the people have a lot of love for their culture,” Bibiana, a Colombian tourist fascinated by the colorful parade, told EFE.
The big stars of the parade were the huge representations of “La Catrina,” the famous figure of a skeleton dressed as a wealthy lady created from cultural traditions by artist Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) and dubbed as such by Diego Rivera (1886-1957), the figure that symbolizes the festival.
Also on display were the “alebrijes,” fantastical creatures made up of the features of different animals, and the “cempasuchil” flowers, which according to tradition guide the souls of the dead to their rendezvous with the living with their intense orange color.
The festival is different from Halloween – which has its “scary side – because joy permeates the celebration of the Day of the Dead, since in reality it is a celebration of the fact that life goes on.
Capital authorities decided to launch the local Day of the Dead parade celebration in 2016 to reproduce the parade that appeared in the James Bond film “Spectre,” which was filmed in Mexico City.
It is also an opportunity for people costumed as artist Frida Kahlo, actor Cantinflas and many other iconic figures from Mexican culture to parade through the streets, and also for elaborate floats dedicated to those people to be put on display.
This year, the parade was dedicated to the almost 300,000 Mexicans who have died during the Covid-19 pandemic.