Community creates colorful altars that bring loved ones’ stories back to life

Community Reports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The annual Marigold Parade for Día de los Muertos in the South Valley has been canceled this year, but people at the National Hispanic Cultural Center say there are still plenty of ways to celebrate.

The NHCC is inviting all New Mexicans to add to its community ofrenda, or alter, ahead of the holiday. Featured faces already include Victoria Martens, the 10-year-old Albuquerque girl found murdered in her home in 2016, and victims of the deadly El Paso Shooting that took place earlier this year.

We really want to offer a space that is about remembering our community members our loved ones our family and our friends.

Elena Baca, National Hispanic Cultural Center

On Friday, November 1, the National Hispanic Cultural Center is hosting a Despedida, or farewell, to celebrate the dead with music, poetry, and craft-making to decorate ofrendas at your home. The free event will also feature complimentary pan de muerto, hot chocolate mexicano, and a chance to share special heartfelt memories of those who’ve died. The event runs from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. in the Domenici Education Building.

On Saturday, November 2, the NHCC will host Salud y Sabor, a free event with food, art, and entertainment aimed at providing families with an opportunity to connect around cooking and culture. This event runs from 11:30 a.m. until 2p.m. in the Domenici Education Building’s Grand Hall.

Day of the Dead originated thousands of years ago with cultures who considered death a natural phase of life. They believed the dead were kept alive in memory and spirit, and that during Día de los Muertos, they temporarily return to Earth. Modern-day Día de los Muertos celebrations take place on November 1 and 2 on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on the Catholic calendar.

During this time, visitors at the NHCC campus will find a series of community-made ofrendas, meant to welcome the spirits of dead relatives back into the living world. Ofrendas include food, water, family photos, and favorite items of the dead like shoes, hot sauce, and even protein bars to help them celebrate with their families. Each ofrenda is also often decorated with marigolds, because, as tradition tells it, the smell of the marigold will guide spirits back to their families.

The NHCC is also hosting several themed ofrendas centered around endangered species in the Rio Grande Valley. These ofrendas were made by students ranging in age from pre-school to middle school, and feature animals like the Mexican Grey Wolf. You can check out the displays for free from now until November 8.

I’m still crying over a gold fish named Ellie from last year’s ofrenda.

Elena Baca, National Hispanic Cultural Center

More ways to celebrate

Marble Brewery is also hosting its third annual Muertos Fiesta on November 2 in celebration of the holiday. It will feature live music and performances from Jade Masque, Sol De La Noche, Yeztli Tanzt Y Arte and Red Light Cameras. Local artists and vendors will host a Muertos Market, and ofrendas will be displayed for you to add pictures and candles for the loved ones you’re missing.

The South Broadway Cultural Center is also celebrating Día de los Muertos with a free, family-friendly gathering on November 2 from 12:00 P.M. until 6:00 P.M. Work from local artists and family ofrendas can be found in the art gallery, and traditional entertainment will take place in the John Lewis Theatre. There will also be food trucks and a car show outside.

To wrap up the holiday weekend, you and your dearly departed can attend a Día de los Muertos Celebration hosted by Before I Die New Mexico at Fairview Memorial Park on November 3. The free, family-friendly celebration includes a traditional procession to welcome deceased loved ones, mariachi music, a procession of vintage cars and low riders, traditional Mexican fare, face painting, artists, and more.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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