Día de los Muertos comes to life in Chico with dazzling colors, vibrance and prosperity
Día de Los Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead, came to life in Chico this week.
Stonewall Alliance Chico’s Latiné/x Heritage Month Planning Committee hosted the celebration, a two-day affair meant to honor and remember loved ones who have passed on.
The holiday’s origins can be traced to pre-colonial Mexico with the belief that the souls of dead loved ones return to their families once a year to reunite.
The final event had been months in the making. Justina Sotelo, the events coordinator for the Stonewall Alliance Center, said the idea came to organizers while discussing the upcoming Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). That event occurs on Nov. 20 and honors and recognizes those who have died due to anti-trans violence.
Sotelo said that although death can often feel heavy and solemn, the souls and spirits of those who have moved on continue, and that energy is not lost.
"It (Día de Los Muertos) marries very nicely with TDOR in the sense that when we think about those who have either passed on or have been murdered due to their identity, it is for many of us, a very sad and harsh reality," Sotelo said. "Although we recognize that solemn part, there's also a beauty in enjoying celebrating those who have passed on."
The event marks Stonewall Alliance's very first fully Latiné/x event in its 30-year history.
“There's a huge cultural element here that Stonewall has not been able to tap in or serve very well in like the last 30 years, so we're bringing in the Latiné/x community,” Sotelo said. “We had all Latiné/x planners create this event, we've had artists come in and help build the ofrenda who identified as Latiné/x, and so highlighting those community members, I think, is really important in Chico.”
Various local Latiné/x vendors, artists, and services were in attendance to celebrate and commemorate with the crowd.
Popular Spanish ballads like Rocio Durcal’s “Amor Eterno” and Los Diablitos’ “Los Caminos de la Vida,” filled the space as attendees observed the vendors and shared moments with others present.
“To be part of an experience where we're carving out space for the Latin community here, and representing an LGBTQ-friendly event, having that intersectionality in the Latino community isn't something that traditionally has been accepted,”- Attendee and performer Krasel Morales
Attendee and performer Krasel Morales highlighted the intersectionality of having spaces for an LGBTQ+ and a POC community event.
“To be part of an experience where we're carving out space for the Latin community here, and representing an LGBTQ-friendly event, having that intersectionality in the Latino community isn't something that traditionally has been accepted,” Morales said. “There's always been a lot of dichotomy and rift and tension and, you know, sexuality and people of color and embracing both of those. And so, when I found out about it, I just knew that I had to be part of this experience.”
Morales spoke to the crowd on the importance of community and Día de los Muertos.
The two-day celebration continued with performances and poetry, including a stunning fire dance and a fun Selena disco medley.
The centerpiece of the celebration was the ofrenda, the Spanish word for offering, where guests were encouraged to contribute pictures or decorations in memory of those who passed.
Stonewall provided a crafts section to encourage those looking to leave an offering.
Those in attendance made their way to the ofrenda to contribute gifts to loved ones to remind us that although the passing of time continues, their memories are everlasting.