Huancavilca Tradition: Day of the Dead

My family stopped celebrating the Day of the Dead. They stopped because of all the migrating process in the past decade. They stopped because of all the busy projects they had going on. They stopped because there was no point in visiting our relatives in Ecuador when we had a life of our own in New York City and Milan. Like death itself, this tradition vanished in darkness and was left in the forgotten world where all of our traditions, ceremonies, and memories rot and disappear in thin ghost air.

My mother told me when her grandparents celebrated the Day of the Dead when she was a little girl. They went to El Morro, Playas County, Ecuador, on November 1st to commemorate the dead. From what she remembers, that’s where all of our ancestors rest in peace: the aunts who died as widows with broken hearts, the children who died of several plague, the elders who told stories and taught us how to weave ponchos. She said all comunas in the area go to visit the church in El Morro and brought food for the dead. They talked to them in the cemetery. They reminisced. They also cried and laughed. When it was time to leave, they made the sign of the cross and kiss them goodbye till next year.

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It has been 30 years since the last celebration and it is about time we revive this Huancavilca tradition into the present. It kills me to think that my ancestors, my relatives, my grandparents, and my cousins stay in the forgotten when they could be remembered at least once a year on this sacred day. My family thought it was about time, too. We gathered all photos and placed them on an altar. We lit an incense, wrote letters to them, put a toasted bread as an offering, and prayed.

The elders said that on this day, our ancestors descend to Earth and visit their relatives and take a walk down memory lane. They also want to remember the food they had eaten when they were human beings. Tradition goes that they eat the food a family prepares for them. If the food is wet or soaked, that means that they were not satisfied with the meal. That also might mean that they might be angry with the family. However, if the food is gone, they left satisfied and are at peace.

For more information, you can click this link below that speaks of the Huancavilca tradition in a comuna that still keep their traditions alive. It is translated in English, too. Remember your ancestors, too, on this sacred day because they will always remember you in the other world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8eA_DvEYKw

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