Search This Blog

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Funeral Parades in Oaxaca

When I was in a town in the Oaxaca province I was able to witness a funeral parade through town.  In this region when people die they are returned to the family home, covered with a white sheet and placed either on the floor or on a table, four lighted candles outlining a rectangular perimeter around them.  For the next two days the family and close friends maintain a prayer vigil known as a velario. Children are included; from a very young age they grow familiar and comfortable with these customs.

Visitors gather in the home of the mourning family; food is served to all who stop to pay their respects. It is customary for visitors to bring a gift of money or food. Many guests stay the night, seated around the deceased, joined in prayer.
When the coffin is delivered to the family's home, the deceased's clothing and belongings are placed inside with the body. That the dead will make use of these items in the afterlife is fitting with the belief that not only do they live on, but that they return annually in spirit, provided their loved ones anticipate their arrival.
   Then the funeral march begins.  It is a mournful celebration.

Regarding death, poet Octavio Paz once said, "The Mexican ... frequents it ... caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it ... he confronts it face to face with patience, disdain or irony."

No comments:

Post a Comment