Hartwick Students Honor Loved Ones With Ofrenda

For Rebeka Alva '26, pets, friends and family members may be gone, but they are not forgotten.

Working with the Latinos Unidos Association, where she serves as president, and Samantha Lara, associate director of diversity, inclusion and belonging, Alva, a nursing major, set up an ofrenda – or altar – in Yager Hall, filling it with framed photos of departed loved ones, and candles, marigolds, personal objects and favorite foods to celebrate Día de los Muertos, Mexico’s Day of the Dead.

“The ofrenda invites spirits to come and visit by laying out the things they loved when they were alive.”

Rebeka Alva '26

Nursing Major

Hartwick College students ofrenda to celebrate Día de los Muertos, Mexico’s Day of the Dead

According to Alva, on Oct. 27, pets who have passed on come back a few days ahead of Dia de los Muertos, and as such, their photos were placed on the ofrenda earlier in the week.

“Pets come back as Alebrijes, the spirit guides who come before to make way for family members,” she explained, holding up a picture of her dog, Jack, who passed away in July 2021.

And on the Day of the Dead, Nov. 2, the association held a Día de los Muertos party to welcome back the visitors from the land of the dead.

“In Mexico, they have parties and parades in the street,” said Alva. “We couldn’t have a parade, but we wanted to celebrate.”

The fourth floor of Yager Hall was decorated with marigolds. Trays were piled high with traditional empanadas, enchiladas and churros. And a bridge led into Slade Theater, where Pixar’s Coco, the story of a young man, Miguel, who is accidentally transported to the land of the dead, was screened for the audience.

“Our loved ones cross the bridge to come see us,” she said. “So our bridge symbolized us crossing to see them.”

She continued, “It’s a beautiful way to celebrate the lives of those who have gone on before us.”

November 9, 2023
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