Happy Dia de Los Muertos ("Day of the Dead")! In Mexican tradition, the three-day period from Oct 31 to Nov 2 is one of the most sacred celebrations of the year, bringing us in close contact with our loved ones who have died. During this period, the veil that separates the living from the dead becomes so thin that we can palpably feel the presence of those who have crossed over to the other side.
Rather than being a time of mourning, this is seen as an opportunity for true celebration. We take time to remember those who are near and dear to us, sharing stories about our departed loved ones and preparing special foods in their honor.
In my hometown of Tucson, Arizona, a group of us meets every year (on the evening of Nov 2) at a small shrine called El Tiradito. Legend has it that a young man died on this site, fighting over the love of a woman. Today, El Tiradito has become a shrine to love, visited by those who have experienced the loss of a loved one through death or separation. Many come to light candles in honor of their dead. We chant, tell stories about our loved ones, and share foods and beverages that were favorites of theirs. Without exception, we always succeed in invoking the presence of these beautiful souls so that we can feel their presence in the circle with us.
I can't think of a better cause for celebration than this. How great it is be reunited again with my beloved grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, friends, and pets. Each of you was oh so dear to me in life and continues to be in death. One day, I will follow in your footsteps. But today, you come to me, bestowing upon me the honor of your company once again and lighting my heart and mind with your presence. And I say: Welcome home!
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