October 27, 2011 in Events
On Oct 23, 2011 I attended the Community Celebration for Days of the Dead at the Oakland Museum of California
This public celebration coincides with the 17th annual Days of the Dead exhibit - October 12, 2011 – December 11, 2011
“Celebrated between October 31 and November 2, the Mesoamerican tradition of Días de los Muertos is widely associated with iconic and colorful elements—such as sugar skulls, marigolds, and altars, or ofrendas—arranged or created in honor of deceased loved ones. This year OMCA celebrates the 17th annual Days of the Dead exhibition, which looks beyond the icons to delve into the heartfelt tales of love and loss that the ofrendas have to tell. Featuring 14 artists and student and community groups with personal stories related to Días de los Muertos, the exhibition pays special attention to the importance of ofrendas and celebrates this ritual as a vehicle for creating intimate sacred spaces and sharing memories.
Featured Artists: Amalia Mesa Bains, Chris Granillo, Xochitl Nevel Guerrero, Roberto Guerrero, Rubén Guzmán Campos, Joaquin Newman, Ernesto Hernández Olmos, Dee Dee Rodriguez, Tessie Scharaga, Consuelo Jiménez Underwood, Andres Cisneros Galindo, Irene Perez, Rafael Jesús González, and Hermina Albarran Romero. Participating schools and community groups: Peralta Elementary, with lead artists Trena Noval and Ellen Oppenheimer; Laney College, with lead artists Leslee Stradford and Arturo Davila; and Clínica de La Raza and Sutter VNA & Hospice, Emeryville, with lead artist Alicia Diaz.”
During the celebration between the hours of noon and 4:00 p.m. over a thousand people participated in the various activities . There was quite a bit of face painting, lots of traditional food booths, a “mercado” of traditional Dia de los Muertos items for sale, and the various altar exhibits to look at.
The festivities began with what I would charicterize as a large community Pagan ritual in front of the main courtyard. The began by dedicating the “four cardinal points” or Quarters.
“East (red, where the sun rises) Spirit of Man; West(black, where the sun sets) Spirit of Woman; North (White, where akk is cold) Elders; South ()yellow, for golden warmth) Children”
This was followed by a procession of Astec Dancers making the thirteen offerings at the altar. These offerings were Incense, Virgin of Guadalupe statue, Myan Cross, Cempasuchitl or marigold, water, candles, Pan de muerto (bread of the dead), foods and beverages, sugar skulls, Papel Picado (punched tissue paper banners), personal objects, the arch, and the herb – amaranth. After the offerings there was a series of ritual dances and another blessing. Then the public was invited to come to the altar and make their individual offerings for the rest of the day.
This was a truly authentic community event for thios time of year and I would recomend it to all local Pagans
For more pictures of this years event please see my flickr group .
Greg Harder for PNC Bay Area.