As part of celebrations of Día de Muertos, the Day of the Dead, one of the key cultural festivals of Mexico, recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Mexican Embassy in India organised a screening of a film and also mounted an altar in the honour of the Day of the Dead.
Made in 1960, the film, Macario is considered Mexican classic about a common person acquiring special powers including a healing water which allowed him to not only see who was going to die and who would live. The film went on to become the first Mexican film to be nominated as the Best Film by the Academy Awards.
The Day of the Dead is a celebration that honours the deceased and has origins in pre-Hispanic customs. At the centre of the cult of the dead is the belief that the souls of the dead return to Earth from the underworld on these days. Families facilitate this return by laying flower petals, candles and offerings along the path leading from the cemetery to their homes.
On the occasion, the Mexican Ambassador to India Federico Salas inaugurated the altar of Dias de Muertos, set up on the occasion. “This is one of the most important cultural festivals of Mexico and one which has a unique mélange of the beliefs of the pre-colonial times as well as the Catholic beliefs brought from Spain during the colonial period,” Salas tells India Outbound.
He adds that the festival and its beliefs have several similarities with the beliefs of the Indian society and that Mexican Embassy in India has been celebrating this and other cultural festivals of Mexico in India in order to increase awareness about the Mexican traditions amongst the Indian people. “We have been regularly holding festivals like Día de Muertos every year. Of course, during the past two years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic we could not organise any activity outdoors, but this year we have returned here to Sanskriti Centre for celebrating this occasion,” Salas adds.
He says that such celebrations also help in boosting tourism from India to Mexico and that this number, which was increasing rapidly before the outbreak of the pandemic has started to rise again. However, the distance between the two countries and the lack of a direct flight from is a major challenge in getting the numbers higher.
“While it may be difficult to have a direct flight, we are trying to have at least a codeshare agreement between Air India and Aero Mexico to be able offer a seamless connectivity and easier travel between the two countries,” says Salas.