Día de los Muertos to start on Wednesday in Baker-Berry

by Paulomi Rao | 11/1/16 1:18am


The annual Día de los Metros ceremony began with a presentation of the altar. 

by Divya Kalidindi / The Dartmouth

The annual Día de los Muertos ceremony will kick off on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in Baker-Berry Library.

Considered a celebration of life, the Day of the Dead ceremony will begin with a presentation of the altar. Multiple items will adorn the altar, all of which are placed the purpose of commemorating the lives of those who have passed away.

“We dedicate the specific altar for the loss of life, but along with that loss of life we are recognizing the celebration of life,” Oscar Cornejo ’17, co-president of

La Alianza Latina said. “It’s not supposed to be a mourning. It’s supposed to be a happy, joyous moment.”

The Día de los Muertos ceremony is part of Latinx heritage month. In alignment with other Latinx programming, the ceremony will be specifically dedicated to advocate against police brutality and commemorate the lives lost in the Orlando shooting.

Following the altar inauguration, all community members are invited to participate in a candlelit procession to the Latin American, Latino & Caribbean studies house. As in years past, the procession will stop in front of the LALACS house for a moment of reflection. Individuals often participate to honor a deceased loved one or family member. The celebration will continue when individuals enter the LALACS house, where there will be food and dancing.

Cornejo, who has participated in the Día de los Muertos ceremony for the last four years, noted that this year’s celebration was organized a little differently than usual. In the past, the student organization Movimento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán primarily organized the event. After the recent collapse of MEChA, however,La Alianza Latina took over planning the event. Throughout the course of the year, combined student efforts within the Latinx community have kept the event running.

In addition, Patty Mendoza, the new advisor to Latinx students, has shifted the structure of many events, Cornejo said.

“The celebration this year has been much more collaborative and structured in its actual meaning, he added. “Overall, it’s been a way to celebrate my culture and have a visible celebration of something so often not really understood at Dartmouth.”

This year, La Casa LLC, La Alianza Latina and the Latinx Heritage Month committees have all contributed efforts to help plan and coordinate Día de los Muertos.

Cornejo said that he thinks importance of the celebration is to share and make visible the Latinx culture and community at the College. Even with additional support and excitement from community members this year, a lack of overall understanding is frustrating for Cornejo.

“We were putting up the altar the other day and some people asked if it was for Cinco de Mayo, which is a completely different thing,” Cornejo said. “It’s not even May, it’s the fall. Even though it happens to be a Mexican holiday, you just can’t associate it with another Mexican thing.”

Cornejo noted that confusion among Dartmouth community members highlighted the importance of organizing events like El Día de los Muertos to raise awareness.

The placement of the celebration — in the well-traveled and visible corridor between Baker and Berry libraries — is intentional, Cornejo said.

On Tuesday evening, as part of the celebration, the movie “The Book of Life” will be screened in One Wheelock, with community members invited to engage in a discussion of topics of relevant to those celebrated on Día de los Muertos.