Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 29, 2007
Mexicans show intense devotion to faithful departed
Cemeteries come alive with vivid floral arrangements
All Souls – November 2
By TED FITZGERALD
- WCR photo by Ted Fitzgerald
A recent burial in the Xoxo cemetery is decorated with an angel tapete.
For many though, more intimate involvement in the ancient traditions can be found by visiting area cemeteries. One such place is Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan (Xoxo) a few kilometres southwest of the city. Two large cemeteries serve the people here. The "old" burial ground crowds both inside and around the ruin of 1684 San Sebastian church.
The "new" cemetery is identified by an impressive arched entryway bearing the inscription "From dust you came and to dust you will return." Both sites are a pleasure to visit during daylight hours when walking is easier and the ambience of the grounds can be fully, and respectfully appreciated.
Filled with flowers during the days of the festival, both cemeteries are undulating seas of colour, waves eddying around the grave markers dominated by the ubiquitous flors de muerto, orange marigolds.
Mixed in are other traditional blossoms, the red Cresta de Gallo and white gladioli, their flamboyance belying the solemnity of the sites. A few relatives may visit gravesites with flowers, candles or food for a prayer but most wait until evening to mount all-night vigils at their relatives' last resting places.
Along the approaches to the "old" cemetery, individuals and businesses have designed imaginative tapetes de arena. These are the popular "sand rugs" assembled on the ground and representing a variety of religious themes.
Made from sand, sawdust and flower petals, sadly these ephemeral murals will last only through the few days of the fiesta so that here, images of the Virgin of Juquila, the Sacred Heart, or angels must be enjoyed in "the now."
One tradition of the feast days is the setting up of altars in homes and places of business to honour and remember a family member or work associate.
These are small, elaborately decorated structures often with a photo of the departed and a selection of his or her favourite foods and drinks. Tradition holds that the souls of the departed are allowed to return and visit earth for a brief period at this time to partake spiritually of a family repast.
The people of Xoxo will retain memories of the grand fiesta in their hearts for another year. Til then, "May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen."
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