For the 22nd year in a row, the campus celebrated Dia de Los Muertos at the Bronco Commons.
The Nov. 4 celebration featured live performances, food, face painting and more than 30 different altars ranging in theme.
Hosted by the Cesar E. Chavez Center for Higher Education in collaboration with the Ethnic and Women’s Studies Department, as well as Associated Students, Inc. and La Union, Dia de Los Muertos saw one of the biggest turnouts in its history on campus.
One of the most common misconceptions about Dia de Los Muertos is that it has any relation to Halloween. It does not.
Traditionally a Mexican holiday but marked throughout Latin America, according to National Geographic, Dia de Los Muertos is a day to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed away.
Angelica Ibarra, interim coordinator at CECCHE, said, “It’s a tradition where we honor our family members who have passed away, and so we need to do that in a respectful way.”
Ibarra explained that although there is music, the celebration is based on religious tradition and said, “Even though we’re celebrating, we’re celebrating a life.”
With this sentiment at the center of the event, the night began near CECCHE at the University Quad.
Aztec dancers conducted a blessing ceremony and dance then continued the procession to Bronco Commons, where students and attendees followed.
Jorge Ramos, one of the Aztec dancers, explained that the ensemble consisted of three different groups from Ontario, Baldwin Park and La Puente who came together to honor their traditions.
Ramos expressed that he hoped people understood that the dances were not just performance, but part their indigenous culture and part of their ceremonial calendar.
“This is a beautiful culture and everybody recognizes it” As soon as that drum starts, they see it,” said Ramos. “They see how beautiful it is. And we want everybody to know that it’s more than that beauty, it goes deeper. It has a long legacy.”
Part of their ceremonial dancing included blessing the community altar where attendees could leave recuerdos to honor their loved ones.
“Recuerdos” translates to “memories” in English. Attendees left artifacts, photos and even favorite foods of loved ones who have passed as a way of remembering how they were in life.
With more than 30 altars all created by students and organizations on campus, those who attended Dia de Los Muertos all had something they could relate to in some way.
The Pride Center focused the theme of its altar in honoring the victims of the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando earlier this year.
“We wanted to do this for Dia de Los Muertos only because a lot of people have forgotten about the incident. We’ve had people come up and not know what it was, and so it’s kind of a tragedy that so many people have lost their lives and a lot of people don’t remember what it was,” said Arantza Flores, a fifth-year computer engineering student. “We wanted to not only show what happened, but be here to represent our community.”
Another altar, “Estrellas en el Cielo,” or Stars in the Sky, put together by the Mexican American Student Center, highlighted Latin American artists and big names in Latin culture that have passed away. Some of these included Juan Gabriel, Selena Quintanilla, Jenny Rivera and Ritchie Valens.
Jimena Alamillo, a third-year zoology student, said, “Even though they’re gone, their legacy will forever stay with us.”
The eventful night also featured performances by David Romero with spoken word, Eviana Vergara and Alan Ruiz with songs in English and Spanish, Mariachi Bronco, Taiko Drummers, Folklorico Tierra de mi Padre and the Mexico 68-Band.
Crowds gathered and watched while eating Latin foods ranging from tamales and churros to prepared corn and refreshments.