22 October, 2010

The lively tradition of Hanal Pixan

by Nyima Bieber

Every year in Mexico, from the 30th of October to the 2nd of November in all regions of the country, one of the most popular and deeply rooted traditional celebrations takes place. This celebration is dedicated to those who are no longer of this world and is centered on their joyful remembrance: el Dia de muertos or Day of the Dead. A mix of the indigenous people’s legacy and the religious practices brought by the Spanish during the conquest, the commemoration of our loved ones who have passed on is an event full of folklore, music, colors, aromas and flavors that lift the spirit. 

 The ancient Mayas believed that after death there were nine spirit worlds where the soul could go according to the form of death.  There they would stay for one year. After this year, the soul would move on to another place, a type of parallel world called Xibalbá (place of those who disappear) from which they could come and go.

 In the Riviera Maya, the banquet of souls, Hanal Pixan as the party is known, has its own style. Since 1992 in Xcaret park a Puente al Paraiso or Bridge to Paradise  is constructed to commemorate the occasion, with a cemetery of 365 brilliantly colored tombs made of various materials that represent the days of the year and the different regions of the country. Altars are mounted in memory of famous personalities and people of the community, decorated with colored paper, candles, flowers and the favorite food, drink and music of the deceased, in the belief that on the night of November 1st the soul will come and partake in the offerings with their loved ones. Orange paths made of marigold petals lead the dead from their tomb to their altar so that they do not lose their way. Eight days after, the Bix is celebrated, in which the deceased are invited to return next year. For this celebration the food is prepared again so that the souls can take their itacate, or provisions for their travel back to where they rest during the year.

 All is life and death is part of life. It is not the final end but the beginning of eternity.

 
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