Oct 312011
Authors: Erin Udell and Allison Sylte

Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday every Nov. 1 and 2, is meant to be a celebration of life, not a mourning of death ­­­— something that cultural groups on campus are trying to make happen.

“It’s a time to remember those who passed away,” said Karla Lerma Banda, a peer resource leader at El Centro, CSU’s Hispanic culture center. “It’s not a time to be sad, it’s a time to be happy.”

For the first time in El Centro history, the center is providing an altar for community members to pay homage to their deceased loved ones. Sigma Lamdba Beta, a multicultural fraternity on campus, is also honoring Dias de los Muertos with a slam poetry night.

“It’s a pretty unique holiday to be able to celebrate your ancestors from the past while celebrating their contributions,” said El Centro staff member Reese Orozco.

The roots of Dias de los Muertos can be traced back 2,500 to 3,000 years in Mexico, where indigenous tribes used skulls as symbols of death and rebirth.

Today, people go to cemeteries with trinkets for their loved ones, believing that Dia de Los Muertos is a chance to reunite with the souls of the dead. Many build altars containing the favorite foods and beverages of their dead relatives, and decorate their loved one’s graves with offerings, which often include orange Mexican marigolds.

For some members of CSU’s Latino community, while Dia de los Muertos is a celebration, it’s nevertheless bittersweet.

Guadalupe Salazar, the director El Centro, spends Dia de Los Muertos honoring her parents, who she said are buried in a beautiful cemetery near a tree.

She spends the day on a blanket near their graves, recalling fond memories of the times they spent together.

“When death does occur, there are memories,” she said. “Always memories. It’s hard to believe they’re gone.”

Oscar Rodriguez, a sophomore computer science major, remembers that when he was five or six and still living in Mexico, his family spent Dia de Los Muertos honoring his grandfather.

“We went to the cemetery and to my grandfather’s grave and talked about him,” Rodriguez said.

“Afterwards, we made his favorite food. It really was a celebration.”

Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte and News Editor Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:28 pm

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