Day of the Dead brings families together in Pilsen

It almost felt like being in a cemetery in Mexico.

More than 75 families built ofrendas, or shrines, in memory of their loved ones outside the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood Sunday.

El Día de los Muertos,  or the Day of the Dead, celebrated on November 1 and 2, is a fusion of Catholic and indigenous traditions.

We remember our loved ones by making a shrine with their photos, some of their favorite food and drink and objects to remember them by. In parts of Mexico there are all-night vigils in the cemeteries.

I made an ofrenda for my stepfather, Ruben H. Vazquez, 85, who passed away on Aug. 11, 2015. He was in one of the first mariachi bands to play in Chicago in the 1950s.

Other families assembled shrines for their grandparents, children and friends who have passed away.

There also was a visual arts installation with images of more than 800 deceased projected on the outside walls of the museum. Dancing skeletons were projected on the wall as a mariachi band played live.

With all the commercialization around Day of the Dead, it was refreshing to see the celebration of family at this cultural event that drew several thousand attendees.

We honor the spirit and the memory of those who have passed on.

All photos by Teresa Puente

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