UVU’s campus is gearing up for a vibrant celebration of Dia de los Muertos, spearheaded by the Latino Initiative in collaboration with “Roots of Knowledge” and various other UVU departments, colleges and schools. This expansive celebration, honoring the Latino holiday, will run from Oct. 31 to Nov. 6.
Originating in Mexico, Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a tradition embraced by nations worldwide. It’s a time to remember and reflect on ancestors, marked by the creation of an “ofrenda,” an altar dedicated to one’s forebears. Traditional elements of the ofrenda include photos of loved ones, candles, food and decorative, painted skulls.
Over a dozen departments across campus are constructing ofrendas, each themed to represent their respective department’s focus. For instance, the Women’s Success Center will pay homage to influential women in people’s lives. Contributions of pictures or tokens to these ofrendas are encouraged, creating a diverse and enriching experience for all. Exploration of each of the ofrendas around campus is also strongly encouraged.
Elizabeth Nield, the Program Director of the Latino Initiative, explained the importance of the ofrendas in honoring one’s ancestors. “You make them alive,” she stated, “That’s the purpose of remembering someone who sacrificed so much for their family.”
Jeanelle Carden, a coordinator with Multicultural Student Services, built on that by expressing, “Our success is because of what our ancestors have done for us.” She went on to explain that the ofrendas act as a way “to say thank you so much for everything they’ve done.”
The official celebration will be preceded on Oct. 31 with an educational event in the Bingham Gallery from 2 to 4 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the rich culture surrounding the holiday and conduct research on their ancestors to participate in the celebration.
On Nov. 1, from 5:45 to 8 p.m., Dia de Los Muertos officially commences at the Bingham Gallery. The event kicks off in front of the Fulton Library quad with a Mariachi band performance, followed by a procession of participants carrying pictures of their loved ones and candles (battery operated) to the ofrenda located inside of the Bingham Gallery. Participants can put their candle and picture of their ancestor on the ofrenda created by local artist Mika Rane. Fernando Gomez, the founder of the Museum of Mormon Mexican History, will discuss the importance of the celebration in honoring the lives of those who have passed.
The Bingham Gallery, which holds the beautiful stained-glass mural of “Roots of Knowledge,” is the perfect place to host this event as the mural depicts human ingenuity and advancement. Curator Kindia du Plessis expressed that, “’Roots of Knowledge’ ultimately is a message about how important it is that we remember where we come from. I feel like the message of ‘Roots of Knowledge’ and Dia de los Muertos is very aligned.”
In the days leading up to the celebration’s conclusion on Nov. 6, various activities will engage participants. On Oct. 31 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Women’s Center will host candle-making and craft activities. On Nov. 2, two activities will take place in the Multicultural Student Services room: a screening of the Disney movie “Coco” with face painting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and a sugar skull painting session from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The celebrations conclude on Nov. 6 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with a removal of the ofrenda in the Bingham Gallery. As part of the wrap-up celebration, local artist Laura Ruiz Ortega will perform a poetry reading, and the UVU Cultural Envoy will perform.
This event is a memorable opportunity to reflect on and connect with one’s ancestry and should not be missed.