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'Sharing our Mexican traditions' | HBPA celebrates 9th annual Día de los Muertos event in Spokane

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Ballet Folklorico de Spokane dancers in typical dresses and face painted as La Catrina during the 9th annual Día de los Muertos in Spokane. Photo By Nuestras Raices.

Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead, celebrations occurred at Nuestras Raíces Centro Comunitario (NRCC) on Sunday, November 4. The holiday is celebrated across Mexico from November 1-2.

"The holiday is a celebration of life that honors and remembers the memory of all our loved ones who have passed," NRCC says.

Folklorico dancers painted as skeletons or Catrinas to resemble the dead, and a ritual with copal by a local resident originally from Mexico, Elizabeth Cruz, brought the celebration to life at the East Central center.

The copal ritual is an ancestral legacy. The indigenous people in Mexico offered copal to their deities. Its fragrance acts as a purifier, warding off evil spirits and ensuring the soul visits the home without hindrance. Cruz has helped to bring the tradition to every Día de los Muertos celebration at Nuestras Raíces.

Visitors could smell the scent of fresh marigold flowers that adorned each ofrenda at the center. Marigolds are believed to attract the dead and remind them that their presence lives on.

Ofrendas were decorated with sugar skulls, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), candles, objects, drinks, food, and photographs of loved ones, kids, and dead pets. The center also had some Catrina displays and art pieces.

The center displayed six ofrendas created by staff and community members. Latinos Unidos en Accion Alianza (LUNAA) created an ofrenda to honor victims of injustice. Esperanza, which offers social and mental health services, created an ofrenda to remember kids and one for beloved pets.

The NRCC ofrenda and two others were made in honor of loved ones. Community members brought photographs of their loved ones to put in at the ofrendas.

People enjoyed the Mexican traditions listening to Mariachi las Aguilas de EWU, cultural dances by Ballet Folklorico de Spokane, and eating and shopping Mexican and Latinx food and crafts.

Visitors to the event came from all over Spokane, Cheney and Spokane Valley. The little ones got into the spirit of face painting. The center had over five local face painter artists offering this art for free. Kids also enjoyed breaking down piñatas full of candy and doing other fun activities.

The event was put together with the help of Nuestras Raíces staff, volunteer students from Eastern Washington University Diversified Greek Council (DGC), and local donors who contributed to the event.

Organizers estimated more than 400 people attended the event throughout the day despite being a cold and rainy evening.

The 10th annual celebration will be back at the center in 2024. Organizers hope the non-profit could get more funds next year to make the event bigger.

“We want to thank all the donors, staff, and volunteers who helped this event to be possible and to everyone who came to the event. We hope to have you here next year with more activities and entertainment to help our community learn and experience this beautiful tradition,” NRCC says.

To see the full photo gallery, visit our Facebook page here.

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