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dia del muertos (Day of the Dead) Fiestas in Oaxaca, Mexico | The faces of Oaxaca... | Oaxaca City and Valley

dia del muertos (Day of the Dead) Fiestas in Oaxaca, Mexico

Where dead is only a transition not an end...Death comes alive during the celebration of Dias del Muertos in Oaxaca, Mexico. The days where it is believed relatives who have passed away are allowed to return to the mortal world. People flock from all over to the Colonial city, as Oaxaca is one of the premier locations in Latin America to experience the event. The festival which is a mixture of Pre-Hispanic and Catholic cultural and religious beliefs officially begins on October 31st every year. November 1st honors deceased children (Dia de los Inocentes) and on November 2nd...Dia de los Muertos, adults are honored. Loved ones gather in the cemeteries (panteones) to decorate the graves...making altars (altares) and offerings of items they enjoyed when they were alive.

The celebrations begin well before these three important dates with fire crackers being set off throughout the days and nights. The pedestrian street...Acala...is transformed into a magnificent display of sculpted sand carpets (tarpetas de arena) depicting various religious and festive cultural figures...including Catrina, the female skeleton that is a symbol of these special days.

Altars adorned with marigolds (the flower of death) overflow into the university and the Zocalo (central plaza). In the evenings parades (comparsas) erupt into the streets with massive 10 foot high costumed stilt-walkers and marching bands playing loud 'banda' music. The local comparsas make their way haltingly through each town and village ending at the panteon. A large gathering of residents meets the masked and costumed marchers for a celebratory dance before breaking up to enter the graveyard. Once you get past the rows of vendors selling food, mescal, coffee, flowers and hand-made craft offerings an entrance opens to the graves and tombs (tumbas) that are elaborately decorated. It is best to go at night when everything is candle lit and 'alive'. Mariachi bands will play for people sitting by graves, sharing food and drinks.

Dia del Muertos is a nice way of dealing with the dead. It seems in Western culture when someone dies...they are just buried and forgotten about. How many of us actually still visit the graves of loved ones? Here in Oaxaca, as in many places in Mexico, this is a time where all the generations of a family are drawn together for a few days to remember and celebrate the people who have played such important roles in their lives.

(Major excerpts above from the Oaxaca Times, Yolanda, issue 23/02 2009)
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202397.MWF8istU.jpg Decorated Hotel Entrance
Decorated Hotel Entrance
Elaborate commercial Altar
Elaborate commercial Altar
Simple business Altar
Simple business Altar
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202401.OrLL6Lgs.jpg
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202402.yVNmgwPi.jpg Costumes for Sale
Costumes for Sale
Baked Bread Offerings
Baked Bread Offerings
Sugar Skulls to be used in grave decorations
Sugar Skulls to be used in grave decorations
Beginning the sculpting of the sand carpets
Beginning the sculpting of the sand carpets
Sand Carpets (tapetas de arena) on the Zocalo
Sand Carpets (tapetas de arena) on the Zocalo
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202408.fSrym4kT.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202409.fp3vgTKW.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202410.ZfeTbYuZ.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202411.vUbCpR1A.jpg
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202412.HCMacOPa.jpg Altar to Santa Muerto (Saint Death)
Altar to Santa Muerto (Saint Death)
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202414.a1IHOTVX.jpg 'Banda' Band
'Banda' Band
Kids Parade (Comparsa del Ninos)
Kids Parade (Comparsa del Ninos)
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202418.wvNAl2Ra.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202419.x6ZFDL6l.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202420.NqGIa8SZ.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202421.2f4iLGwA.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202422.rem6Znl8.jpg
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202423.xOkWHUdD.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202424.PvVqkeAf.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202425.D0uRKL80.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202426.EJnLc98K.jpg Children's graves...decorated...
Children's graves...decorated...
...a little...
...a little...
...a lot...
...a lot...
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202430.efy2Sts8.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202431.eFpw38Hd.jpg Parade preparations
Parade preparations
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202433.mMVyZypX.jpg Parade of costumed stilt-walkers
Parade of costumed stilt-walkers
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202435.SoeL9C4U.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202436.CtfL9IKj.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202437.uQOVLWQ9.jpg
Grave simply decorated
Grave simply decorated
A quiet vigil...
A quiet vigil...
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202441.QWOYDjsh.jpg A musical remembrance?
A musical remembrance?
Family...
Family...
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202444.yZBVJsgg.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202445.1evfv1lp.jpg Alone...
Alone...
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202447.1glCpv4U.jpg Elaboratly customed paraders in the village of San Agustin Etla
Elaboratly customed paraders in the village of San Agustin Etla
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202449.tksamAg3.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202450.HCoDjFoY.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202451.4f1hSa3I.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202452.KaYKdr5h.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202453.K5pMNI1h.jpg
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202454.rknbIM4U.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202455.Ox16Pyvq.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202456.az93b6iR.jpg A time out...
A time out...
A dancing mixture of locals and paraders...
A dancing mixture of locals and paraders...
Decorated tumbas...
Decorated tumbas...
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202460.FNqnbLuo.jpg ...some not so much...
...some not so much...
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202462.rrJHEneS.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202463.MXC7cCju.jpg
Sand and flower tribute
Sand and flower tribute
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202465.jkNlFyEx.jpg Family and Friends celebrating a life...
Family and Friends celebrating a life...
...some less so...
...some less so...
A joining in...
A joining in...
Comparsa in San Felipe del Agua
Comparsa in San Felipe del Agua
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202470.vriC94c4.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202471.lco6Vyb2.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202472.0iASHjWs.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202473.tRj9Ilny.jpg
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202474.eQ1edQwk.jpg Panteon chapel
Panteon chapel
Tending the candles (velas)
Tending the candles (velas)
A quiet vigil...
A quiet vigil...
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202478.koWktd54.jpg
...everyone together...
...everyone together...
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202480.fjlt1fOZ.jpg t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202481.QGBcATN5.jpg ...play time for los ninos...
...play time for los ninos...
Entire family helps decorate...
Entire family helps decorate...
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202484.OA0Cwcpv.jpg ...with flowers...
...with flowers...
...and more flowers!
...and more flowers!
Some graves are meant to send a message...
Some graves are meant to send a message...
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202393.jWpSHqXV.jpg
...or tell a life story...
...or tell a life story...
...of someone who loved to drive?
...of someone who loved to drive?
t3%2f25%2f921025%2f4%2f120202396.KXUbfKJs.jpg