INDIANAPOLIS — With a growing Hispanic population and greater awareness of their unique culture, the Day of the Dead is becoming a staple on the cultural calendar in Indianapolis. Celebrated on November 2, the Day of the Dead (Dia De Los Muertos) is a day for honoring and remembering ancestors and loved ones who have passed away. The holiday is celebrated in Mexico primarily, although other cultures have embraced the traditions.
Because the Day of the Dead follows closely on Halloween, many people think it is a continuation of the holiday, but they are separate celebrations.
The Day of the Dead is thought to have originated in the pre-Columbian past, and focused on remembering the dead. Altars are built containing favorite images, foods, colors, and memorabilia of the departed, as a way to encourage them to hear the prayers of the living directed to them. Families go to cemeteries and clean the headstones and graves of ancestors, and decorate them. Marigold flowers are popular in grave decorations.
Toys for deceased children, and tequila or other beverages for adults, are sometimes left on the grave. Offerings, called ofrendas, are left in homes for the spirit ancestors. Sugar skulls, candied fruits and pumpkin, and bread of the dead (pan de muerto) are common offerings.
To learn more about the Day of the Dead, visit Bookmamas Bookstore on Nov. 3 from 1-3 p.m. (9 S. Johnson), as they celebrate the holiday. There will be remembrances, a celebration of lives of those who have passed before, and personal sharing of poems, stories, and much more. There will be readings from the Remembrance Journal on display at the store. Decorations and costumes in remembrance are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.
At the Indiana State Museum, there is a Day of the Dead Altar Exhibition running through Nov. 3. The exhibition is free with regular admission (adults $10, children $5.50, seniors $9) and open during museum hours (Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.). The Indiana State Museum is located is located in White River State Park at Washington and West streets. Visit indianamuseum.org or call 232-1637 for more information.