Elaborate ofrendas honor dead loved ones

April Cambero
Staff Writer

Families and artists gathered in Claremont Village for an early celebration of Dia De Los Muertos hosted by Claremont Heritage on Oct. 14. 

On Harvard Avenue, between the Claremont Depot and Shelton Park, extravagant ofrendas, local artistry and cultural music were all available for the public to enjoy. With the help of the Claremont Helen Renwick Library, Rio de Ojas, The Claremont Lewis Museum of Art and local vendors, the families viewed the community’s loved ones and appreciated their stories and legacy. 

“It’s celebrating people you love that have passed on and I have really grown to appreciate that part of the cultural heritage,” Sonja Stump, events coordinator for Claremont Heritage, said. 

Trumpets echoed through Shelton Park as families danced and sang along. The smell of sage wafted through the air as artists displayed their ofrendas or altars to families walking by. 

About 12 ofrendas were featured in Shelton Park. Each one was unique to the artist and their family members. Many ofrendas were colorful and used photos, rosaries, candles and food.

Most artists placed marigolds on each ofrenda because it is thought that they attract the souls of the dead. Artists explained who was in each photo that was placed on the ofrendas as well as each piece of food, flower and keepsake. 

Some artists even included their pets that have passed and displayed their favorite toys and treats. These details were placed on the ofrendas to represent each loved one and invite them to visit their family on Dia De Los Muertos.

“It’s important to educate them to understand what Dia De Los Muertos is, when people hear Day of the Dead it’s standoffish because of the word dead, but then as they understand how we celebrate our loved ones,” said Sandy Garcia, local Claremont artist and ofrenda artist. “It’s just something very close to our hearts.”

The Claremont Helen Renwick Library invited the community to play Loteria and paint sugar skulls to add to their community ofrenda. 

The library  wanted to demonstrate to the community how they could create their own at home. 

Restaurants in the Village were also featured in the Dia De Los Muertos event. They offered one-day food specials for the community to enjoy from Pozole at the House of Pong to Pan de Muertos Creme Bakery.

Dia De Los Muertos played to every sense. From taste to touch to smell, there were many aspects that made this event immersive for those participating.  

Mexican folklore boutique, Rio de Ojas, was a huge proponent for this event because of their appreciation and knowledge of Dia De Los Muertos.

The tradition of creating an ofrenda has been passed down through generations for many years in Mexican culture for Dia De Los Muertos. 

Anissa Ortiz, ofrenda artist and city of Monrovia jailer has created ofrendas with her daughter for the last 15 years and decided that it was time to pass down the tradition.

“It means …being close with my family that has passed on and getting in touch with my roots,” Ortiz said. “I like that we can join together our heritage.”

Ortiz said she used the tradition of creating ofrendas to stay close with her loved ones. 

She said she encouraged her daughter to take charge of the creative process in making their ofrenda for this year’s event. 

April Cambero can be reached at april.cambero@laverne.edu.

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