The skirts of folkloric dancers swirled to the mariachi beat.The smell of fresh tortilla chips and the sound of laughter filled the room as guests colored pictures and played bingo.
Day of the Dead is a joyous celebration honoring deceased loved ones and Catholic saints. The University Honors Program celebrated Dia de los Muertos Wednesday, allowing students and community members the opportunity to experience the tradition.
Event Coordinator Michelle Sotolongo said she wanted the event to be focused on interactive activities and traditional arts and crafts attendees could take home with them.
“I intended for everything to be more involved in what the day of the dead is,” Sotolongo said to the crowd that filled the Honors Coffee Forum. “It’s a very wonderful tradition we hope you continue.”
Festivities included decorating miniature skulls and coloring pages, rounds of the Mexican version of bingo, called “loteria” and traditional Mexican foods. Students of the San Marcos Mariachi Academy and Texas State’s Grupo Folklorico Octochtli performed on the makeshift dancing space outside of Lampasas Hall. Dancers of Grupo Folklorico wore traditional skull-like makeup and folkloric dresses for their performance.
Sarah Sanchez, dance junior, said the ghoulish makeup is intended to celebrate and honor the dead, not just to scare people.
Ajay Lerma, Rio Grande valley native, said he came from a community that annually participated in the traditional holiday. Lerma, pre-electrical engineering freshman, said his church held services that focused on people who passed away. He described it not as time of mourning, however, but as a celebration.
“It’s like I’m home,” Lerma said. “People yelling over each other, chips, playing loteria.”
Danielle Renteria, history sophomore, said she had previously heard about Dia de los Muertos celebrations, but never participated.
“I think it’s cool how we go to a university that embraces diversity,” Renteria said. “(It) encourages you to come to group events like this that teach you about other cultures.”