by Francisco G. Gómez
The Day of the Dead goes by many names, Día de los muertos, Day of the Ancestors, Day of the Egún, All souls Day and many other names, I imagine. For us who are from the Caribbean, or closely situated in that region by location, cultural traditions or simply by interest, we celebrate it as a day of ancestral remembrance.
On November 2nd we gathered at my home to share our cultural traditions, from Guyana, Puerto Rico and Cuba. We sang songs dedicated to the ancestors, prayed for them, told stories about them and then had a feast.
It was a small group of people from our herbal and ancestor circles. For us there are no special days to honor the ancestors because they are remembered everyday as our diverse traditions have taught us. El día de los muertos, in particular, is a time to come together and share our African, Indigenous and Judeo/Christian beliefs. It’s a potpourri of spiritual rituals, ceremonies and esoteric beliefs. Scriptures from the book of Ifá, collection of selected Kardecian prayers, the Torah, Bible or Popol Vu may be read or even discussed on this day. This year we began our celebration with music and song. We pulled out the Cuban tres and hand bass, passed out some sheets of lyrics from los nanis and sang them in Spanish. Then each of us took turns at the communal altar to pay homage to our dearly departed, each in our own special way. We then broke bread with a spread that consisted of marinated green bananas, Guyana gumbo, Codfish salad, Codfish rice/red beans, flan, wine and latkes. We also shared our food with the ancestors, in addition to placing things that they enjoyed while they were alive, such as cigarettes, cigars, their pictures, candles, rum, black coffee, and flowers on the communal altar; it was lots of fun and very entertaining!
Raíces gives many thanks to Mama Chinon, Bethsaida, Akosua, Angela and Nicole for their participation in this year’s celebration. We hope next year’s gathering will have more participants as we continue to learn from each other in peace, love and harmony for the ancestors! Aché