In episode two of “Recordando a Nuestros Seres Queridos,” Lin-Yu Diaz and Luis Gutierrez share how they celebrate Día de los Muertos in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Lin-Yu Diaz is a Yucatec Mayan, Mexican woman who lives in the North Bay and volunteers with the Multicultural Center of Marin County. This year, she put a spotlight on her Mayan heritage.
“Our celebrations or cuisine or style of dress vary from region to region – Yucatan is no exception to that,” Lin-Yu Diaz said. “We have our own Día de los Muertos celebration called ‘Hanal Pixán.’”
Her altar — referred to as “ofrenda” in Spanish — was built in the style of Hanal Pixán, in which main components of the altar include a green cross placed on the top made with the leaves of a ceiba tree, which is sacred to Mayans, and three tiers representing the Earth, underworld and heaven.
Another element of creating a Hanal Pixán ofrenda is putting photos of deceased loved ones.
“Like other places in Mexico, for your ofrenda, you put a picture of the loved one you’re honoring that passed on to the other realm,” Lin-Yu Diaz said.
In the Mission District, community activist and part-time Santa Rosa radio host Luis Guitierrez spent his time helping at La Reyna Bakery, a multigenerational, family-owned business.
In other years celebrating Día de Los Muertos, Gutierrez would practice with his Aztec dance troupe in a studio to parade on 24th Street. The dance has a ceremonial component with the intention to bless the altars that shop owners and residents build and place along 24th Street.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, no physical events were planned. All events were switched to virtual presentation to prevent the further spread of the virus.
This didn’t stop Guiterrez from celebrating with his dance troupe. The practice was held openly in Chan Kaajal Park, and Guitterez went on to dance with his troupe on 24th Street.