In Photos: Pandemic casts shadow over Mexico’s Day of the Useless | Gallery
In Mexico, death is usually a reason to celebrate during the annual Day of the Dead Festival, which was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2003.
On November 1st and 2nd, people across the South American country usually decorate their homes, streets, and relatives’ graves with flowers, candles, and brightly colored skulls.
With its bright colors and cartoonish skeleton costumes, the Day of the Dead has become an internationally recognized symbol of Mexican culture. The festival revolves around the belief that the living and the dead can communicate with each other in the short space of time.
However, that year parades were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and many cemeteries where families visited their loved ones and brought music, food and drinks were closed on Sundays.
Authorities have urged people to stay home to avoid spreading the virus that has killed more than 90,000 people in Mexico – one of the highest tolls in the world.
Only a limited number of people whose relatives were cremated or buried were allowed to enter the Panteon de Dolores, the largest cemetery in Mexico City.
Several flower shops on the edge remained open, but few customers were to be seen.
“It’s very sad, but there are rents and debts to be paid,” said Isidoro Avila, 76-year-old salesman.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador declared three days of national mourning for the victims of the coronavirus on the occasion of the festival.
Widely considered the most important festival in Mexico, the Day of the Dead is rooted in indigenous Mexican culture mixed with Christian superstitions of the Spanish colonial rulers.
The Mexica were the dominant indigenous population in pre-Hispanic Mexico.
The modern celebration is based on a Mexica legend that after death people traveled through the nine regions of the underworld known as Mictlan.
The capital usually hosts a parade of brightly colored skulls and “calavera catrinas” – a famous skeletal representation of death created by cartoonist Jose Guadalupe Posada more than a century ago. But this year virtual events are replacing the usual festivities.