Paseo de las Animas 1

Mérida, the “white city”, is getting ready to pay homage to one of its most deeply rooted traditions: the visit of the souls during the Day of the Dead.

The Ayuntamiento de Mérida (city hall), headed by Mayor Mauricio Vila Dosal, is organizing the 2015 edition of “Paseo de las Ánimas” (passage of the souls), which will take place on Saturday, October 31, starting at 6 pm.

For the event, which is gaining popularity every year among Meridanos and visitors, will include the installation of more than 250 traditional altars to the dead, over a route that goes from the Cementerio General (general cemetery, located at Calle 81A x 90, Centro) to La Ermita de Santa Isabel (Calle 66 x 79, Centro). Last year, the event drew 40,000 visitors.

The altars include sweets, typical regional food and drink, black, white, and colored candles, flowers, crosses, and the indispensable photographs of the deceased.

So, among the aromas of incense, flowers, and “mucbilpollos” or “pibes” (traditional food prepared especially in honor of the dead), the “Paseo de las Ánimas” takes place. It is a procession of about 100 people, including children, teens, and adults, dressed in regional attire and with faces painted as skulls. They walk along the route carrying flowers and candles, symbolizing the arrival of the souls who, according to tradition, return to Earth at this time of year to visit their families.

To add more impact to the annual traditions, the Ayuntamiento will also offer a broad artistic and cultural program along the route, including the participation of trova music groups, the Ayuntamiento’s folkloric ballet, shows like Pok Ta Pok (ancient Maya ball game),and preHispanic music performances. There will also be Maya ceremonies, storytelling and legends, and a photography and pictorial exhibit related to the theme.

There will also be guided tours of the cemetery, which has been declared an official heritage site of the city. On these tours, there will be narration in English and Spanish about the history of the graveyard and some of its illustrious occupants, as well as the architectural beauty of its mausoleums.

Participants of the traditional event include various centers for overcoming challenges, citizen participation counsel groups, businesses, associations, and all municipal departments.

The Paseo de las Ánimas reaffirms the commitment of the Ayuntamiento and its mayor, Mauricio Vila Dosal, to preserve and promote the traditions that blend Maya and Spanish heritage, as part of the project “Mérida, Ciudad Blanca”.

Paseo de las Ánimas has a family atmosphere, where you can enjoy an interactive experience of one of our most important celebrations, which is also promoting the preservation of our traditions. And our visitors will have the chance to have a unique cultural experience, which only takes place once a year. Don’t miss it!

Event program: www.merida.gob.mx/cultura

Photos are courtesy of Bruce Edmiston, known for his “Esquinas de Mérida” series: www.flickr.com/photos/bruce_edmiston