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Celebration of death, life

Mills College Weekly

Through laughter and tears, a crowd gathered around in a circle holding hands to collectively celebrate life by remembering the dead in observation of Dia de Los Muertos.

The event, which took place Monday evening at Mills Hall, included over 40 people and was sponsored by Mujeres Unidas, a student-run, campus coalition. Students, teachers, and community members shared their thoughts and feelings about the often ignored and seldom celebrated subject that touches us all-death.

For this annual event, a colorful altar was erected, dressed with skulls and an eclectic assortment of offerings. These included poetry, pictures and letters, even a favorite beer. Some of the faces and names attached to these items are unfamiliar and date back years. Annually, the offerings are taken down and sit in storage, awaiting the next year’s celebration where they will be added to and combined with new art and fresh memories. In this way, the altar is a testament to a Mills version of the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition, connecting those that have passed through to those that remain by a shared experience in the fantastic and perplexing fact of death.

Ostensibly about loss, Dia de Los Muertos links people to life through memory and generous celebration of its sometimes painful and humorous details. From parents to pets to people never met, acknowledging death offers others a glimpse into the lives touched by the dearly departed.