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Many families and students gathered on Friday, Nov. 2 in the Bronco Commons to honor the dead for the traditional holiday, Día de los Muertos.

The Cesar E. Chavez Center for Higher Education hosted the 24th annual Día de los Muertos celebration.

There were many family friendly activities at the event, such as face painting, Aztec dancers, food, skull decorating, stands selling traditional Hispanic gifts and many beautifully decorated altars to look at.

Although Día de los Muertos falls on Oct. 31, it is not related to Halloween and has roots in ancient Aztec culture. (Ashley Rowles | The Poly Post)

Día de los Muertos, which is Spanish for Day of the Dead, is a traditional three-day holiday which begins on Oct. 31 and ends on Nov. 2 and it is commonly celebrated in Mexico.

Although this holiday falls on Oct. 31, it is not related to Halloween and instead focuses on celebrating and paying respects to the lives of loved ones who have passed.

“I love the idea behind the offerings people carry with them and this holiday is a great way to connect with a loved one after their passing,” said Izzy Sandoval, a fifth-year marketing and management human resources major. “I never celebrated the holiday until I got to college and that is when I started making altars for the celebration with my fraternity brothers.”

In ancient Aztec culture, it was considered disrespectful to mourn the dead, as death was seen as a natural phase of life.

The dead members were still a part of the community and kept alive in spirit, and on Día de los Muertos it is believed that they temporarily come back to Earth.

“My favorite part about this holiday is building the colorful altars and honoring and remembering the ones who have passed,” said Joanna Flores, a fourth-year liberal studies major.

Most people celebrate the holiday in cemeteries by decorating the tombstones of loved ones.

“This event is about bridges. Bridges between loved ones who have passed and bridges between Cal Poly Pomona and the cultural centers on campus,” said Gilbert Cadena, a CEIS professor at Cal Poly Pomona.

There were over 20 altars from many centers and clubs on campus.

The altars had many elements including paper flowers, candles, pictures of the ones they are honoring, and some of them even had food placed on them.

A colorful alter created by Alpha Pi Sigma featuring photos, flowers, candles and other various objects. (Ashley Rowles | The Poly Post)

The Liberal Studies Club was one of the clubs that kept its altars very traditional and colorful, just like the altars in Mexico.

“We see a lot of organizations that put their own little twist on their altars, but we wanted to keep the altar as traditional as possible,” Flores said.

The stage was filled with many performers, including the Aztec dancers and the Cal Poly Pomona Mariachi Band.

The crowd enjoyed the show while eating snacks like cream-filled doughnuts.

At the end of the night, there was a big dance party where the people who attended were able to get up dance and enjoy some good tunes.

Although Día de los Muertos is traditionally celebrated by people of Mexican heritage, this event brought out students from different backgrounds to enjoy the popular holiday.

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