Senor and Linda Lou have been in Pueblo Alamos, Sonora, Mexico for 10 years.
Every day brings a new discovery.
They are still working on the casa............Senor says, it won't be long.........but Linda Lou says, it won't be long until what..............stay tuned to find out what's next.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dia de los Muertes

I finally made it up to the Casa de la Cultura.
This is a large cultural arts center on top of a hill, overlooking the Plaza de Armas. It originally was the carcel, and off the main building, one can see the old gated jail cells, which are now used for art room classes.

I am not sure of the funding for Casa de la Cultura and I have alot to learn about it, but I do think that it works in conjunction with the Sonoran State Arts and El Seminario de Cultura Mexicana. Each of the little jail rooms offers something different... wood and electrical fired kilns, a print shop, pottery shop, mask making, painting workshops.......the list goes on and on. One of their goals is to help residents of Alamos find a way to use trades and crafts and bring in further income.

They also have a Feida Kahlo gallery...........imagine my surprise when I went there in September to find a Picasso linoleum exhibit. It was amazing!
I was also excited to discover that classes are on going at cultura and not only are they free to the Mexican community, but they are free to foreigners as well. In fact, several foreigners teach classes at the center.

A paper mache' class in preparation for Dia de los Muertes was up coming. Delayed a little by Norbert, it finally got under way and I was happy to be a part of it.

Dia de los Muertes is one of many religious holidays celebrated throughout Mexico.

The people of Mexico believe that on the night of November 1st, the souls of little children (anjelitos) return to earth and the adults arrive the next day. Families spend hours at the cemeteries, or in their homes, preparing altars and thrones and ofrendas (offerings) for the departed to return to during these two days.

Often large tables are erected at the gravesite and they include many ofrendas for the departed to feast upon during their return.

The ofrendas can include pan de muerto (bread of the dead, baked in shapes of bones),
glasses of tequila, or atole and other favorite food of the departed.

Skulls and skeletons are created out of paper mache' and others are concocted of edible sugars and displayed among paper flowers or marigolds, while copal, an incense is burned.

This is an extremely festive time for all of Mexico. In Alamos, there will be much dancing and music, all over town. There will be a competition of altar building, all of which will be displayed in the plaza or around the church. The schools have all made altars, which are available for viewing.
The public is invited to visit the cemetery, and to see the festivities that await the departed.

It is a time when Mexicans reflect on the past and their families, and prepare for the living to reunite with the dead, but it is also a time that is met with great humor because death is unavoidable and to meet it with laughter is greatly respected.

In the photo below, we have paper mache'd the skull heads, painted them and put them out to dry.
no two heads are the same..............

lots of heads......

several of the casa de la cultura artists and students ( see those students sitting quietly in their chairs?) begin to create one of several altars they will display in front of the church.

paper mache' (old students from long ago) skeletons that will go into one of the altars.......

one of my jobs was to repair this guy, who looks like something out of the ET movie....... he's lying on his back after a new white paint job...............

now, I am off to the plaza to help set up the altars. I will try to get some photos as we work.


Glenn Ian Huntington said...

Really fun and informative post with great pictures. You are so fortunate to live in such a wonderful little town. Enjoy your posts and look forward to joining you as a resident of Alamos.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

What a great experience! You are really part of the community.