Culture shines brightly at the Dia de los Muertos exhibition


The Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) exhibit was filled with flowers, photos and other relics, as Dr Kathleen Downey of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences noticed during her visit on Monday.

Lydia P. Robles story
Photos of Ralph Freso
CUU Information Office

Students stopped to adorn the ofrenda – Spanish for “offering” – with butterflies, relics, notes, photos and other luminous decorations on Monday to honor loved ones at the Día de los Muertos display table in front of the Lope store.

It was the opening of the Day of the Dead celebration, which continues until Tuesday at Grand Canyon University. According to traditions, the monarch butterfly symbolizes the return of souls for this annual festival.

The students wrote the names of their loved ones on butterfly stickers to honor the deceased.

The Union of Latino Students and a new club, the Canyon Dreamers, have collaborated to share Latino culture with students and staff.

Leo Quintero, an advisor for the Union of Latino Students, said the goal is to provide insight into Hispanic culture for students who may not be aware of that tradition.

“I have always been grateful that GCU allows us to do these things because some people have their opinion that the holidays are cultural or religious,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s about respecting people’s beliefs and understanding that when something is important to someone, it’s great to be able to celebrate with them even if you don’t share the same beliefs. “

The Latino Student Union and Canyon Dreamers collected requests for songs which were then played along the nearby boardwalk. Students were invited to dance or sing along to music that reminded them of those who have passed away.

President of the Union of Latino Students Jonathan valdez sees Día de los Muertos as a day to celebrate life rather than death.

“The event is about remembering and honoring those of the past and doing it in a way that doesn’t cause sadness or grief,” he said. “It’s more of a celebration of their lives and the legacy they left behind.”

The butterfly symbolizes souls visiting loved ones on earth.

Rodrigo Ramírez, President of Canyon Dreamers, wanted to create a safe space for students facing adversity.

“There is this stigma around people who are undocumented or have limitations that make them feel like they sometimes run into walls or that there is nothing beyond those walls – but there is has, ”he said. “In my life there has always been this fighting spirit, and there are a lot of people who have this fight to keep moving forward.”

Although the deceased may not be here in physical form, his memory and lessons are very much alive in the hearts of the students.

For Ramirez, Día de los Muertos is about celebrating the life and memory of his grandparents. Although her grandmother passed away before she was born, her struggle is part of her legacy.

“Despite everything coming against her and against all odds, she always resisted, she always said: ‘As long as I live, as long as I live,'” he said. “Whenever the going got tough financially, she always made money and did what she could to move her family to a better place or a better situation.”

The display filled up on Monday at the end of the day.

At the end of the day, the exhibit was filled with photos of the deceased, butterflies and items intended to commemorate the lives that have passed away.

The final touch: a path of marigold flower petals.

Latin culture believes that the scent and the path of flowers guide souls from their burial place to their family.

Bright hues of yellow and orange replace the dark colors typically associated with the idea of ​​death. What is usually a dark event is transformed into a celebratory party through Día de los Muertos.

“It’s not that people forgot the people they loved,” Ramirez said, “but today they took the time to remember.”


Associated content:

GCU today: Latino Student Union attracts renowned speaker

GCU today: Students get a taste of diversity at the multicultural festival

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