Where I write

Where I write

November 7, 2011

Dia de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead

This is the entrance to the Dia de Los Muertos Festival held at a private home each year in central Phoenix. I don't know who owns the house. I've gone several years, and I'm still not sure. I read about it in the newspaper one year, or maybe I found out another way. Doesn't matter. I just know this person, a man I think, opens up their big backyard (it's very big) each year to honor the spirits of our dead loved ones. This was my third year coming except this year I arrived after midnight as I had to work late at the resturant. The house where the festival takes place is in the kind of neighborhood that you drive through with your car doors locked and you see poverty first hand. For a moment, after I parked my car, I thought maybe I was like those women in those movies you see walking alone at night in dark parking lots. Duh! But I heard the music playing, saw the colorful lights strung from the tops of the palm tree, and  laughter and conversation coming from beyond the doorway. It was a beautiful Arizona November night. Crisp. Also, I like the idea behind The Day of the Dead....honoring our dead loved ones with light and joy and food and drink and dance. I think our dead loved ones like it, too!

The backyard was covered with soft straw and there were couches and tables and chairs set up for people to sit and talk. There was a dance floor with music and people were dancing. The backyard goes on and on and there are more tables and more chairs and couches and blankets because people stay up very late, until the sun rises, to honor the dead. No one paid much attention to me as they we were busy talking and having fun. A mariachi band was leaving as I arrived. I  missed the big procession where people awaken the dead with rattles and drums and so on. Skeleton's play a big role in The Day of the Dead and many people had their faces painted white.   I had a glass of red wine, given freely to me, and went toward the centerpiece of the festival. The altar.
People put photos of their dead loved ones on the altar, along with statues and candles. A lot of candles. We need the light so our dead ones can find us on this special night. At least that's what I think. And on this night, as I sat sipping my red wine, and listening to the music and watching the candles glow and seeing people come to the altar and light incense, I truly could feel the spirits. I lit a candle for my mother and father. Last year I brought photos of them, but this year I just lit a candle then sipped my wine some more and remembered all my loved ones who had passed. A man stood with two little children by the altar telling them a story. Their faces glowed in the candle light.
Here you can see the food brought for the dead, cupcakes, and the  sugar skeleton and anything else you want to bring to honor your loved ones.
This year I was wondering since I was there so late and there were less people, if maybe I might find out who owns this house. I think it might be this man. The skeleton with the big hat.
I sorta like not knowing. I like the idea of some generous man who allows people to come to his backyard and share in this festival each year. There is a big glass jar by the front and you can toss in a few dollars if you like. I did. There are people of all ages who come, from elderly to children, to eat burritos and tacos and drink beer and bottles of wine and I've never seen anyone cause trouble. It's as if everyone knows to be respectful on this night devoted to those who have died.
This year when setting up the festival the man (I think it's a man) who owns the house said he saw this owl in the palm trees. He posted it on his web site. I was told the sighting of an owl means death, but the man who owns this house said on his web site that it means good luck. Whichever I'm just glad I had another year to remember my parents, light a candle in the dark, and affirm that love never does die.


Rita A. said...

I've seen pictures and stuff about DOD but I've never attended anything. You amaze me how you get out there, by yourself even, and experience these things.

SunsetCindi said...

This is such a beautiful way to honor the dead. I'm sure our loved ones are happy to see us celebrating their lives and remembering them in this way. Good for you for being a part of this memorable night.