Mexicans celebrate restricted Day of the Dead amid coronavirus upheaval

Sunday - 01/11/2020 17:49
The mother of Andrés García González, a nurse who died of Covid-19, makes an altar to honor her son ahead of the Day of the Dead, in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Photograph: José Luis González/Reuters
The mother of Andrés García González, a nurse who died of Covid-19, makes an altar to honor her son ahead of the Day of the Dead, in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Photograph: José Luis González/Reuters
With tens of thousands dead, the commemoration of lost family members has rarely been more relevant as rituals of mourning have been disrupted

José Porfirio Martínez Castro and his wife Nery Urioles Nájera were tidying up their family tomb at the municipal graveyard in Morelia. They built a small altar for two of José’s siblings and adorned it with marigolds, sugar skulls and tiny bottles of Coca-Cola – his sister’s favourite drink.

Normally, they would spend the night of 1 November here, lighting candles and remembering their loved ones. But this year the cemetery will be closed because of Covid-19 restrictions, so they made their visit a few days early.

“I never imagined doing this,” said Martínez, from the tomb’s shady portico. “Everything has changed in 2020.”

Oceans of marigolds still adorn Mexican boulevards, sugary pan de muerto is still on sale and images of skeletons decorate everything from store windows to billboards.

But the Covid-19 pandemic has upended Day of the Dead plans. The effusive celebrations of recent years – parades inspired by the James Bond movie Spectre and “mega” altars in town squares – have been cancelled or made virtual.

Cemeteries across the country have been ordered to close, forcing many families to mark the occasion at home. 

Mexico’s coronavirus death toll stands at around 90,000, but officials admit that the true figure may well be at least 50,000 higher.

 

A woman waters her father’s grave at the Valle de Chalco municipal cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City on Thursday. Photograph: Fernando Llano/AP
A woman waters her father’s grave at the Valle de Chalco municipal cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City on Thursday. Photograph: Fernando Llano/AP
 

The pandemic has shattered thousands of Mexican families – but it has also interrupted many of the country’s traditional ceremonies for commemorating the dead: churches have been closed; wakes cancelled; and communities unable to gather for novenas – prayers offered for nine consecutive days.

Families who have lost loved ones in the pandemic have also suffered a social stigma in a country where conspiracy theories over coronavirus and its transmission have swirled.

“They say it was diabetes, or they died of a heart attack … or it was kidney problems,” Father Raúl Vázquez, a Jesuit priest, said, describing how relatives of Covid victims refer to the cause of death. “They’re scared of being rejected by their neighbours.”

The inability to properly commemorate loved ones has left many Mexicans still searching for closure.

Read More (...)

Source:

 Keywords: Covid-19

Total notes of this article: 0 in 0 rating

Click on stars to rate this article

  Reader Comments

Older articles

You did not use the site, Click here to remain logged. Timeout: 60 second