For University mariachi ensemble member Cecilia Garcia, Día de los Muertos and mariachi are integral to celebrating her Mexican heritage.
Garcia experienced both elements Friday at an on-campus celebration of Día de los Muertos, which celebrates the lives of deceased loved ones from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. The celebration was hosted by the Hispanic Business Student Association at Gregory Plaza.
“Usually, I go to my mom’s hometown in Mexico to celebrate it, but since I’m here at school, this is the first year I haven’t been able to,” government freshman Garcia said. “It’s just always been such an important family tradition. I’m happy that I get to celebrate it here.”
While the University hosted Día de los Muertos — known as Day of the Dead — in the past, the Hispanic Business Student Association hosted their own event for the first time this year.
“I think it turned out to be a huge success,” said Sharon Monagas, psychology sophomore and the assocation’s campus relations chair. “Just to see everyone smile and the joy in people’s eyes having that little taste of home, it was really beautiful.”
Six student organizations held booths or performed during the event, with each booth hosting different forms of celebration. The event included a traditional altar surrounded by marigolds with pictures of students’ loved ones, a performance by a traditional Mexican dance student organization, and the UT Mariachi Ensemble.
The UT Mariachi Ensemble, also known as The Mariachi Paredes de Tejastitlán, performed cultural songs and drew a crowd of over 100 onlookers.
“A good way to describe mariachi is that mariachi is to Mexico as country (music) is like to Texas,” Garcia said.
Mariachi Paredes director Monica Fogelquist said she considers this performance and their upcoming concert Nov. 22 in Bates Recital Hall crucial signs of progress for the band.
“Día de los Muertos is such a big part of Mexican and Mexican-American culture,” said Fogelquist, an assistant professor of mariachi and ethnomusicology. “The fact that we can be a part of that and give our music to celebrate those who are no longer with us is a big honor.”
Monagas said the association plans to hold the celebration in future years.
“We really hope that this will become a tradition that continues on every year,” Monagas said. “We want to be the groundbreakers to make this happen.”