By Diego Linares
Vendors, student clubs, outside foundations and musical acts gathered for the fifth annual Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Festival yesterday in the front quad.
Grammy award-winning musical group Quetzal played a slew of songs about social injustices, just a few feet away from Avenida Cesar Chavez.
Musical director and founding member of the band, Quetzal Flores, said that remembering loved ones with the tradition of Dia de los Muertos is a way of keeping people from dying their third death, as told by an old proverb.
First, a person dies. Then their body is repurposed into the earth, and finally they are forgotten.
“All these things tie into one another, these philosophies, these ways of being. These are ways that also inform the community on how to reconnect themselves to process-based convening, where we’re able to be a community and understand each other and communicate in a healthy way,” said Flores.
Alma Rosa Rivera, vendor and member of Chicana feminist group Con Fuerza Collective, spent time selling goods and passing out her poetry to passers-by.
Rivera said that it’s important to have events like these in order to keep tradition alive within the community and counteract cultural appropriation.
“The few things that we have are traditions. Those are things that don’t cost money,” Rivera said.
“It’s one of the few things we can hold on to,” added Rivera.
Former Elan and member of the band Cambalaches, Manuel de Jesus Sandoval spoke on the popularity of son jarocho (Mexican folk style music) and its ability to bring people together.
“Son jarocho has been kept alive by communities, and has kept communities alive itself,” Sandoval said.
“In this music, that’s the most important thing. More than spreading the music, is keeping the community alive and using the music to maintain our culture,” Sandoval added.
Mexa, a student-run organization centered around social education and the preservation of culture and identity, had a booth at the event to inform attendees.
Elvis Cano, a delegate of Mexa, informed people that yesterday was, in fact, Dia de los Santos (All Saints Day),–a day of honoring and not just celebration.
He said that as a Chicano and son of undocumented parents, his family stressed the significance of culture in an unknown place.
“The only thing you can hold on to you is your identity,” Cano said.
“They (his family) feel that without your culture, you’re somewhat of a lost spirit,” said Cano.
The booths ranged from vendors selling Dia de los Muertos ornaments, figurines and household wares, to foundations signing up donors for bone marrow transplants, to illustrator and KPFK radio host Lalo Alcaraz and his anti-Donald Trump paraphernalia.
For more information on similar events, visit www.elac.edu/academics/departments/chicano/.