SJICR hosts third annual Dia de los Muertos celebration on campus

The communal altar with offrendas including photos, flowers, and candy. - Staff Writer / Isaac Linsk

The Rowan Office of Social Justice, Inclusion, and Conflict Resolution (SJICR) hosted its third annual Dia de los Muertos event in the Chamberlain Student Center. 

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrates the lives of deceased family members. Originating from and predominantly observed in Mexico, the holiday is also celebrated in other parts of the globe. Offerings (or ofrendas) of food and flowers are made at altars in order to help guide deceased members in the afterlife. 

Rowan’s Dia de los Muertos celebration was started by Alondra Martinez M.A., a former graduate coordinator for the SJICR who specialized in social media and cultural programming.

“I wanted to shed light to a sacred cultural tradition in Mexico and also celebrated by other countries to the campus community, but also create an event that interacted with all students and welcomed them,” said Martinez.

The scent of pan dulce and hot chocolate greeted students and staff as they entered Room 221 on the evening of Nov. 1. The traditional Mexican sweet bread was supplied by Alex’s Bakery in Woodland, NJ. Once inside the room students and staff were in a space purely dedicated to celebrating one of Mexico’s most iconic holidays.

The SJICR constructed a communal altar along the back wall of the room. Students were invited to submit pictures of their loved ones to be displayed on the altar through a site the SJICR had set up prior to the event. Things like sugar skulls, candles, and flowers were decoratively strewn about the altar table, serving as the ofrendas mentioned before. 

“This is not a sad event, it’s something to celebrate their life with,” said Lexie Perez, a member of the United Latino Students Association (ULA).

After signing in, students were allowed to grab one of the colorful selections of pan dulce and a cup of Mexican hot chocolate. The atmosphere allowed for a social environment, students broke bread together and shared their stories. 

“I was adopted, and coming to this little celebration of Dia de Los Muertos, it means a lot to just dive a little bit more into my culture and actually get to know what goes on,” said Marisa Giraud, a senior who transferred from Rutgers Camden this semester. 

The SJICR’s next event is going to be a celebration of Diwali, a festival of lights in collaboration with the South Asian Student Association on Monday, Nov. 13.

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