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Day of the Dead celebrations take place in Bloomington


Childs Elementary School student Karinna Kenner decorates a sugar skull Oct. 27 at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. The museum celebrated Día de los Muertos with crafts and an altar in honor of dead loved ones. Anna Brown

The origins of the Día de los Muertos holiday stems from pre-Hispanic times, developed over centuries by indigenous groups across Mexico and Central America.

The celebration made its way to Bloomington at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures and was organized with La Casa Latino Cultural Center.

The holiday is officially celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2, but it is not unusual for festivities to extend the official days.

At the exhibit was an altar, layered with papel picado, or intricately cut tissue paper, letters, newspaper clippings, flowers, candles and other ofrendas, or offerings. Along with photos of loved ones, these altars serve to remember and celebrate the lives of those who have died.

Sarah Hatcher, head of programs and education at the Mathers Museum, commented on the significance of the event’s altar for the Bloomington community.

“It’s kind of taken on its own unique spin,” said Hatcher. “You’ll find a lot of mementos for average citizens as well as for important people in the history of Bloomington.”

Handwritten notes and clippings of obituaries had accumulated on colorful pieces of paper.

One note read: “To everyone who gave their life for our liberation” signed with the initials GJLR.

Another was pasted onto a Pearl Jam album, and said “I know you liked Pearl Jam. I wish I could have listened to it with you. I love and miss you.”

With music by Columbian-singer Maluma playing in the background, parents and kids decorated calaveras, or sugar skulls, with colored icing. Others made flower bouquets out of tissue paper.

Lillian Casillas, director of La Casa Latino Cultural Center, commented on the importance of celebrating traditional Latin American holidays like these all the way in Bloomington, Indiana.

“It’s a way of feeling connectedness,” said Casillas. “It makes me feel more part of the community because others are doing it too.”

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