The popular Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead, was celebrated at the Des Moines Art Center Sunday, Nov. 1, with ceremonies honoring longtime community volunteer Aurora (Boli) Bejarano Lumadue, who died in 2014 at age 84.
The popular, life-affirming event included art activities, a mariachi band, dancers, Mexican cuisine, Mexican hot chocolate, traditional Day of the Dead bread, a celebration dance with music and other activities.
“This annual celebration has become a treasured experience and truly reflects the Art Center’s core values by connecting so many communities throughout the greater Des Moines area,” said an event spokesperson.
According to the program, “Day of the Dead is a moving ritual that is celebratory, yet respectful of death, and ultimately affirms human life. It has been celebrated in parts of Latin America dating from pre-colonial Mesoamerican times.”
In traditional forms of the ancient ritual celebration, according to the program, families “honor their ancestors and the recently deceased with commemorative altars filled with offerings of flowers, photographs, pan de los muertos (the traditional bread of the day), candles, sugar skulls, toys and other symbolic items. During this festive time of year, it is believed that souls return to enjoy earthly pleasures.”
The living people at the Des Moines Art Center were certainly enjoying earthly pleasures Sunday during the 15th annual celebration.
Lumadue, praised at the event as “an amazing Art Center ambassador,” was honored as a dedicated community volunteer who spent her life helping others through a wide variety of charitable groups and projects in Des Moines, including the Catholic Women’s League, LULAC scholarships and the Latino Student Awards Ceremony.
“Aurora worked tirelessly with—and for—others, leading the honoree research effort plus assisting with oral histories, videos, and altar components,” said one of Lumadue’s many fans and admirers. “She was also well known as the ‘go to’ person when a deadline needed to be met. Other team members could always depend on her patience and diplomacy.”