By Johnny Flores, Jr., Coachella Unincorporated
COACHELLA, Calif. – Eastern Coachella Valley residents will celebrate the Mexican tradition of honoring the dead at Raices Cultura’s Seventh Annual Dia de los Muertos on October 27, from 6 to 9 p.m., at Centro Martin Ortiz.
Community members are invited to dress in calavera attire and participate in the calavera community procession, which will leave the Raices Cultura Community Space, 1494 Sixth Street, at 5 p.m.
The celebration is free to the community and will feature live music, Aztec dance performances, local artist showcase, student and community altars, and many other activities. The event will feature local artists Gonzalo Pinedo, Pearl Meija, Drew De Leon, Michelle Hedgecock, and many more.
“The history of Dia De Los Muertos celebrations can be traced back to Mexico’s indigenous roots, where it has been celebrated for over 3,000 years. Raices Cultura offers a space in the heart of Coachella where people of all ages and backgrounds can come together to celebrate and honor the departed, a space where this tradition is kept alive,” said Esperanza Navarro, youth coordinator for Building Healthy Communities and a member of Raices Cultura.
Dia de los Muertos is a yearly Latino tradition celebrated on November 1 and 2, on the Roman Catholic All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Dia de los Muertos is a time to honor the dead, not through mourning but through celebrating the person’s life.
Families often create altars for their loved ones who have died. Altars include photographs, food, drinks, marigolds, sugar skulls, and other items that were meaningful to the deceased person. A special sweet bread called Pan de los Muertos is also consumed that day.
“It is a beautiful, cultural tradition that honors and celebrates our ancestors,” added Navarro.
Raices Cultura is also holding an altar contest in conjunction with the event. This year’s theme is youth violence. Youth organizations are creating altars that represent the violence that youth face every day, as well as honoring those who have lost their lives.
A winner will be chosen the day of the event and will receive a $100 honorarium. Centro Martin Ortiz is located at 1612 1st Street.