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#526208 10/06/17 06:52 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
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Coming Soon! Novena & Exhibition, Nov. 2nd at 7pm
Kindly join us as we honor out dearly departed.

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The Altar of the Hanal Pixan (or Food for the Souls)

It is a typical altar of the Maya Zone of Quintana Roo and northern Belize and is dedicated to an adult soul.
Because of the Spanish influence they adorn it with Catholic images, like the virgin of Guadalupe or the divine child.

As the part of the Mayan philosophy, the altar is adorn with the Maya Cross that the represent the strength of the Mayas during the caste war. Actually, the belief in this cross is preserved in its divine power. It is a Maya cross, that's why they dress it with a hipil.

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Dia de los Finados - November 2nd

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By Hector Silva


Finados really come from the word FIN. - Meaning those whose end came. These were two days, set aside in remembrance of those who had passed away./ ( Died )

WHY ? - Sometimes, Somewhere, Someone, decided that it was fitting to declare two days for our loved ones, who were no longer with us here on earth.

ALL SAINTS DAY( Dia de los Angelitos ) was the day of those who died young ( Infants ) - November the 1st.

For them, many special food was prepared and shared among the living.- Such as Majar Blanca ( blommage ) Pumpkin Sweet, Turron de Miel and other baby foods.

THE ALL SOULS DAY was the day for those died as adults. November 2nd. For them there was the EXPASHA, THE BOYO BRUTO ( Bollo of Ixhpelon - special black beans ) - - FIAMBRE and other exotic dishes.

THE NIGHT OF THE 2nd was a feast day. - There was food for the living and the dead. - Food was taken to the graves and left there for the consumption of the dead.


There was a lot of prayers during that day. - The candles were made of BEES WAX. ( A special Aroma for that day )

Whatever that meant, IT STRENGHTENED THE FAITH that there is LIFE AFTER DEATH. ( resurrection from the Dead )

But sad to see that those traditions are dissappearing in many communities of Belize.

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Beyond the Hype of Halloween, There's the Substance of Finados

It's Halloween in Belize City, and, right now, we're sure those trick or treaters are coming down your street - sweet bags in hand! But, while Halloween may have the hype and the sugar high, the long established cultural and religious observance of "Finados" has the substance and the depth. It's popular in Western Belize, and in 2014, Courtney Weatherburne went back to her family's roots for an extended feature on "Finados":

Courtney Weatherburne reporting
Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.And while that's what the Bible says, in Benque Viejo the dead are never forgotten and their rewards come every year on November second with Finados - a religious and cultural observance. That's why these women are praying this morning - to give thanks for the arrival of the souls of their loved ones.

The thought of being surrounded by spirits - whether 'familiar' or not - is quite unsettling for many butto 46 year old Maria Del Carmen Martinez and her family, it is a sacred and beautiful portal to re-connect with her older sister, and to bless her soul.

Maria Del Carmen Martinez - Official Prayer Leader
"it's to welcome her and so that her soul can rest in peace because the process she went through with her sickness - all the suffering she went through, it was very terrible for her. She was a very humble person. She was one of my sisters that were the humblest of all. The doctor told that she was going to die, but you never knew when. It happened on May 2 which was my birthday. That's something that I will never ever forget in my life. At 4 o' clock my sister Sylvia called me and said that my sister had died."

And while she still grieves for her sister, Sylvia Sosa remembers her husband and son:

Sylvia Sosa, Finados for Husband and Son
"I usually light candles from yesterday until the 9 days. My husband passed away in 1998. He was in an accident and my son pass in 2007 and he was 33 years old. He had pneumonia."

Images of their loved ones fill the walls, a vivid expression of their desire to relive their moments of familial joy, tomfooleries and sorrow.

This nostalgic journey is only one way to honor the dead. Families also initiate an elaborate and meticulous process to properly welcome the souls. For Maria it all begins at the break of dawn.

Maria Del Carmen Martinez
"Then like for today November 2, we put the bread with the coffee; one with coffee and the other with coco and then you put in the bread and you out some bread on the table and some I'xpasha because they usually do it early in the morning and they set it. Those are just for the morning and then midday after you pray and everything, you eat something and then they start the preparation for the midday meal. Then you prepare the soup because it's a soup for the day or special dinner that the person you are offering it to use to like."

Apart from the offering of food, special prayers, "Novena De Los Animas" are recited.

Maria Del Carmen Martinez
"Well the repetition of the prayers like asking God and all saints in heaven to come and help the souls in purgatory because actually as our beliefs say they have a process, they just don't go straight to heaven. They have a purgatory to be purified of whatever sins and thing they did on earth, so they need to go through that process and then finally hopefully that they go to heaven."

But, seasoned practitioners say, it is not always a peaceful and sentimental experience. Lore says that the refusal or inability to carry out this ritual has led to frightening outcomes.

Cristina Bejerano (translated)
"A wife tells her husband "Carlito I don't have any money to do my I'xtasha or my Finados and Carlito answers "No money for you, do it on your own." "Okay fine" she says and so they went to sleep and in the night the house started to shake because her husband didn't want to give her money. The next morning of the 1st, her husband finally gave her the money and said "here, buy your things for Finados."...So he had no more headache because he gave his wife money for finados. A lot of people don't believe it, but it is true."

While the families who observe finados welcome the dead into their homes, they also visit their world to complete the ritual, and send them off on their journey to the hereafter.

The farewell is marked by the adornment of tombs with flowers, a type of candle known Veladoras and a decorative fabric. This embrace of the underworld, may seem taboo but according to Cultural Practitioner and Activist, David Ruiz, this practice simply reflects the existing connection between our world and theirs.

David Ruiz, Cultural Practitioner
"Well if we go back to the ancient Mayan, it's something that comes from the cosmo-vision of the Maya; that respect to the ancestors and how the spiritual life intermingles with the material life and it's something that very present also in the Christian culture with the teachings of the catholic church and what Augustine wrote the city of God intermingling with the city of man. The spiritual world it kind of inter-phases with our material world. So it's like both runs parallel and our western/modern thought has separated both. But it's not so, I mean the material world is a reflection of the spiritual world and we are moving towards something and this whole practice - the indigenous people were so good at capturing this and I believe that if we were to recapture that spirituality and that silence in our own life we would be able to also be more in tune with this."

And what about those with no families, the lonely souls whose families have also died or have simply forgotten about them.

David Ruiz
"There is a preparation for the "anima sola" that's the lonely soul, really doesn't have anybody to pray. So what people do is like when they are making the "boyus" they would make another one with like the gizzards - the leftover and then they would set that outside the garden on the back yard."

In the end, Finados, like so many other religious and cultural rituals is about coming to terms with death, but in this case practitioners go one step further, they try to reach over to the other side with the best a family can offer, the hunger of memory satisfied with these bounteous offerings. So now the souls will return to their resting place while their families patiently await their next visit.

For those who want to see it for themselves, on Wednesday the San Ignacio & Santa Elena House of Culture will be celebrating "Finados."

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Happening Tonight @ the San Pedro House of Culture

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San Pedro House of Culture celebrates its Dia De Los Finado

On Thursday, November 1st The San Pedro House of Culture (SPHC) once again brought tradition to San Pedro Town. Many residents gathered at the SPHC to celebrate their dearly departed at the annual 'Dia de los Muertos' celebration (Day of the Dead). The tradition is celebrated by the Garinagu, Mestizo and Mayas, and is usually observed over two days, November 1st and 2nd.

The event started at 7pm, with Director of SPHC Mito Paz welcoming everyone and explaining the importance of the event to those in attendance. "Everyone should remember their loved ones and pay tribute to their deceased friends and family members," said Paz. Afterwards, the audience enjoyed traditional food and toured inside the House of Culture. Inside, altars with photos of deceased island resident, illuminated with candles, honored loved ones.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

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