The Chican@ Studies department will be hosting their annual Altares workshop on Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Multicultural Center (MCC) to contribute to the third annual Dia de los Muertos celebration at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Oct. 30.
Dia de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead,” is a Mexican celebration to honor departed loved ones and assist their spiritual journey. The Altares Workshop, organized by graduate student Rosie Bermudez, will give participants the opportunity to create paper flowers, framed photographs and altars for remembrance. The altars, or “altares,” are decorated tributes to the deceased made of photographs, food and other meaningful items. The Santa Barbara Bowl celebration will begin at 4 p.m. and will showcase music from contemporary Latin bands and DJs, theatre and dance performances, art installations and altars made by local organizations, schools and museums.
Fifth-year environmental studies and Chican@ studies double major Carmen Mares said while Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in parts of Latin America, it is centralized in Central and Southern Mexico.
“Dia de los Muertos reminds us that death is a natural part of the human life and if a form of passage to the after-life,” Mares said.
According to Mares, the student-created altars will also be displayed at the Santa Barbara Casa De La Raza and UCSB Educational Opportunity Program’s “Celebracion De la Gente” event.
“Altares are constructed with candles, photographs, food and items that the deceased person loved in life,” Mares said.
Fourth-year Chican@ studies major Nayeli Maldonado said during Dia de Los Muertos, loved ones visit cemeteries, construct altares and cook traditional dishes for the deceased.
Maldonado said she began celebrating Dia de los Muertos after volunteering at the event last year.
“I’ve come to realize how important it is to share it with my community and continue to pay my respects to my family members that have passed away,” Maldonado said. “It is a way to commemorate our ancestors, thank them for the wisdom they shared and keep their memory alive.”
Maldonado said she was amazed by how much detail is involved in the event.
“We decorate the venue, make beautiful and intricate altares, have giant calavera ‘skull’ puppets, free face painting, Aztec dancers, mariachi, art installments and much more,” Maldonado said.
First-year communication major Sabrina Delgado said she has never participated in the Dia de los Muertos event and is excited to be part of the Chican@ experience.
“Since I have never been to this kind of event, I am really excited to finally be able to be part of something that unifies the community through music and art to honor the dead,” Delgado said.
Delgado said although her parents are Mexico natives, she did not grow up celebrating Dia de los Muertos and wants to learn more about the holiday’s significance.
“My family has never celebrated this event as much as other individuals do,” Delgado said. “I am looking forward to this new experience and [to being] more in touch with my culture and [celebrating] this beautiful event with others.”