Dia de los Muertos event celebrates diversity

Photos of the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, performers Aretha Franklin and Chavela Vargas, and designer Kate Spade illustrate the themes of diversity and inclusion at this year’s Dia de los Muertos celebration at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The altar, created by artist Cesar Viveros, is the centerpiece of the annual event and holds offerings of fruit, bread, and books for loved ones who have passed on. The event, organized by the Mexican Cultural Center Philadelphia and Consulmex Filadelfia, offers a day to celebrate the traditional Mexican Day of the Dead holiday in Philadelphia.

“I think that people must know that in Mexico we are not afraid of the dead, of dying,” said Alicia Kerber-Palma, head consul of the Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia. The event is a very important collaboration for the consulate, she said, because the Penn Museum is recognizing the importance of Mexican culture.

She invites people to come and enjoy the event, and learn more about the tradition that is known throughout the world.

“The more we learn about other cultures, the more we can learn to appreciate diversity,” she said.

In Mexico, it is typical to go to the cemetery and spend the entire day and night with loved ones.

“If you fly over Mexico during Dia de los Muertos, you can see the lit candles and orange flowers. It’s an intersection of tradition, culture, and religion,” said Kerber-Palma

Community groups were invited to create their own altars and participate in a competition. Clients of the organization Women Organized Against Rape created crosses wrapped with colorful yarn and plastic flowers, to remember those who have been the victims of abuse and femicide, the killing of women, around the world.

Attendees can have their faces painted, enjoy Dia de los Muertos bread and chocolate, and create flowers out of tissue paper. Jarana Beat, a musical group, will perform the joyful, improvised music from the traditional state of Veracruz.

After 5 p.m., DJ Joe Broscoe will host a Latin dance party, and adults can taste tequila and learn about its history. The event takes place Saturday from 1-8 p.m. and is included in the price of museum admission.

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