Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bewitched in Oaxaca City, Mexico!

El Dia del Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is popular celebration throughout Latin America, especially in Mexico. I know zombies are the flavor of the month in today’s popular culture, but that is not what this celebration is about.

The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday and is celebrated throughout Mexico. Family and friends get together to pray and remember their loved ones who have passed away. This is not a time of mourning, but rather it is a joyful celebration of life, food, friends and family.

The history of the Day of the Dead is a syncretism of Pre-Hispanic and Spanish customs. The celebration takes place on November 1–2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2).

In the beautiful colonial city of Oaxaca, Mexico I was able to take in the sights, sounds and smiles of the Day of the Dead.

On the days leading up to November 1 and 2 (along with celebrating the Catholic holidays, on the 1st, people celebrate the lives of lost children, and on the 2nd they celebrate the spirits of adults) many parties erupt on the streets of Oaxaca. This is another Day of the Dead tradition called Comparsas which is a carnival-like procession of people in costume, dancing and wild music accompanied by a banda band (think Mexican Polka music).

On the morning of October 31, young children, dressed in costumes and accompanied by their parents and teachers, paraded around town on their way to school. The children comparsas circled around the town’s zocalo (public square) which made for a vibrant public spectacle.

Photographing this procession was exciting, but technically difficult at times since there were fast moving subjects in low light. Two keys elements in street photography are preparedness and patience and they surely came in handy that morning.

I remembered a quote from photojournalist Steve McCurry when he learned to watch and wait on life. “If you wait,” he realized, “people will forget your camera and the soul will drift up into view.”

I waited patiently for a “soul to drift up into my view” and I was rewarded with this bewitching portrait.

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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