Dia de los Muertos celebration fosters creativity on campus

Dia de los Muertos celebration fosters creativity on campus

Photo by: Daryl Ontiveros | Staff Photographer
Ricardo Alarcon, artistic director for Grupo Pakal, performs a Mayan dance and ball game for students Oct. 29 outside the Undergraduate Academic Center.

While many San Martians were preparing their Halloween costumes, other locals celebrated Dia De Los Muertos on Oct. 29.

Michelle Sotolongo, Student Development Specialist with the Texas State Honors College, said the well-known Mexican holiday is celebrated every year with the support of Texas State students and a variety of campus organizations.

Sotolongo said the Honors College helped coordinate the event in an effort to educate students and community members on rich traditions in Mexico.

She said the main objective of the celebration is to create a better understanding for the holiday, which rejoices the lives of family members and friends who have passed away.

“It is basically to bring awareness to people who are not familiar with it,” Sotolongo said.

Sotolongo said the event featured an arts-and-crafts table, food, face-paintings and raffle prizes.

“We try to have it as a very joyous occasion,” Sotolongo said. “It is not supposed to be scary like Halloween is.”

Sotolongo said the event included ritual dances performed by Grupo Pakal, a performing arts group from The Indigenous Cultures Institute.

Ricardo Alarcon, Grupo Pakal artistic director, said their company was invited to educate students and the community.

He said his team used Mayan dances to create a story about the history surrounding the holiday.

“We are part of the Indigenous Institute here in San Marcos, and they are supporting for us to teach the schools,” Alarcon said. “We teach to the kids the Mayan ball game and preserve the game for future generations.”

Sotolongo said she has been presenting at the event for seven years.

She said this year’s event highlighted the holiday’s native roots by featuring dancers native to the community.

“I have been wanting indigenous dancers for years,” Sotolongo said. “The Indigenous Cultures Institute was really instrumental in putting me in contact with (Grupo Pakal).

Alarcon said it is important for people in the community to learn about the true nature of Mexican and Mayan heritages.

Alarcon said he was thankful to be able to share the day’s importance through music, dance, food and artwork each rich in tradition.

He said Grupo Pakal performs the same dances in Mexico every year.

Sotolongo said student organizations across campus helped contribute to the event and those enrolled in the Cultural History of Mexico in the 20th Century honors course hosted a reception for the performers afterwards.

“I want to keep the students involved, and I want to bring them into the community and bring everyone together to celebrate this tradition,” Sotolongo said.

Oscar Escarcgea, history Junior and president of Homberes Unidos, said their organizations multi-cultural student advisory council was invited by Sotolongo to volunteer.

Escarcgea said he was excited to raise awareness.

“Latinos are always underrepresented,” Escarcgea said. “I think it is just important for Latinos to have their heritage celebrated even if they are not anywhere near where they came from.”

Sergio Leon, creative writing junior and Hombres Unidos member, said the event proved to be educational for residents of any age.

Leon said it is never to early to educate children on the diverse cultures that surround them.

“It’s good for the community,” Leon said. “It’s not just up to the student body to know that there are Latin organizations in our schools.”

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