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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Celebrate life at the Día De Los Muertos Communal Gathering

A vibrant celebration of culture, art and community at Sac State
Last+year%E2%80%99s+Dia+De+Los+Muertos+communal+gathering+held+in+the+library+quad+Wednesday+Nov.+2nd.+Over+120+students+were+involved+and+25+altars+were+built+for+last+year%E2%80%99s+event.+%28Canva+graphic+made+by+Hailey+Valdivia+and+Image+Courtesy+of+Luis+Garcia%29.
Hailey Valdivia
Last year’s Dia De Los Muertos communal gathering held in the library quad Wednesday Nov. 2nd. Over 120 students were involved and 25 altars were built for last year’s event. (Canva graphic made by Hailey Valdivia and Image Courtesy of Luis Garcia).

There will be a gathering for Día de los Muertos on Nov. 2 that will kick off with a procession at noon. The procession will begin outside Lassen Hall and go through campus leading to where the event will be held in the library quad.

The students will share their altars from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jason Tena-Encarnacion, ethnic studies lecturer, said this is an opportunity for students to participate in storytelling and be engaged with work outside the classroom.

“Storytelling is making sure that we are bringing these individuals, these communities and cultures to life, in their beauty and in the ways they should be celebrated,” Tena-Encarnacion said.

Related: Embrace the spirit of Día de los Muertos on or off campus

This is the fourth year that there will be a communal gathering for Día De Los Muertos at Sac State. The event started in 2019 when Luis-Genaro Garcia, professor of art education, created a public ofrenda in front of Kadema hall with his two art classes.

Due to COVID, Garcia had to put a pause on the event in 2020 but in the following year Garcia opened the event to anyone on campus and moved the display to the library quad.

Garcia said he started using Día de los Muertos as a way to connect with students and the communities that they lived in. Then it turned into a yearly approach.

An ofrenda from the Dia De Los Muertos communal gathering in library quad, Wednesday Nov. 2nd, 2022. Students can dedicate one to a friend, family, pet or even celebrity that has passed. (Image Courtesy of Luis Garcia)

In 2022, Tena-Encarnacion reached out to Garcia and they collaborated to create a bigger Día De Los Muertos gathering.

Tena-Encarnacion said that his and Garcia’s classes were able to produce 25 student ofrendas and had over 120 students involved.

“It was very much grassroots, we had very little money, but we were able to pull together a pretty nice event,” Tena-Encarnacion said.

The aim for both Tena-Encarnacion and Garcia is for students to be involved and engaged.

“I wanted to continue to provide opportunities for not only my students to engage with their own families, but for the student body to engage here on campus,” Garcia said.

This year’s Día De Los Muertos communal gathering is a collaboration between Garcia, Tena-Encarnacion, David Flores and Nancy Huante-Tzintzun, both of whom are assistant professors of ethnic studies at Sac State.

“We regrouped as the four of us and we were able to organize where we all agree that the ofrenda project will be centered in our classes,” Tena-Encarnacion said.

Tena-Encarnacion said that they share the responsibility of organizing the event as building the altars is embedded in their classes.

One out of the 25 ofrendas that were made for Dia De Los Muertos communal gathering in the library quad,Wednesday Nov. 2nd 2022. Past students from last year’s event will be coming back to help for the upcoming one. (Image Courtesy of Luis Garcia)

“There are students that are creating altars dedicated to current political circumstances in other countries,” Garcia said. “On my end, one of the things that I teach students about Día de los Muertos is that this is one way that particular ethnic groups commemorate their dead.”

The event will feature performances by the Sac State Band, ballet folklórico and danza, with workshops taking place between these acts throughout the day. In addition to this, there will be food and spoken word poetry.

“I really want to welcome everyone. I want folks of faculty, students, families, bring your kids, bring your nieces and nephews, bring an elder,” Tena-Encarnacion said. “It’s completely free. There’s no expectation, you know, just come and enjoy.”

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About the Contributor
Hailey Valdivia, A&E Editor
(she/her)
Hailey Valdivia serves as the Arts and Entertainment Editor for The State Hornet. She is currently a graduating senior and has been a part of The State Hornet for four semesters. Additionally, this fall, Hailey was elected as the Vice President of the Society of Professional Journalists chapter at Sacramento State. Hailey aspires to be a journalist serving the community around her.
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  • kimberly Gomez SantosNov 1, 2023 at 11:15 am

    I enjoyed reading this article. I am proud to say that I was part of this beautiful celebration. Feliz dia de los muertos. I loved creating the alter with my group.