Dia de los Muertos
The celebration of Dia de los Muertos is a popular religious ceremony wherein the dead are recalled, honored and celebrated. It is rooted in the cultural and religious clash of Nahua (Meso-American) religion and Spanish Catholicism (16th century). The celebration provides unique insights into an oral religious belief system that is still very much alive today in the hearts and faith of the people. Among these insights: death is feared but accepted with frivolity and celebration; the dead are recognized as present among the living, and so their continuing needs are met through songs, prayers, food, and drink; and finally, celebration is appropriate not only to honor the dead but also to embolden the living in the face of death.
The Department of Religious Studies and Theology has sponsored the Day of the Dead ceremony at the Grotto for over 20 years. The late Dr. Bernardino Verástique was the principal figure in this event, as he coordinated and presided over the festivities. His interest was personal and scholarly; the celebration gave him an opportunity to connect with his heritage, culture and beliefs (as well as enabling the larger OLLU community to connect as well), and explore the Dia de los Muertos ritual within the larger religious system to which it belonged. The Department of Religious Studies and Theology continues this tradition for those same reasons--to celebrate a common culture and belief, and to explore the relationship of the ritual to a larger belief system.
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