It is the night of November 2nd and miles inland in Quintana Roo, a few hours from the beautiful beaches of the Riviera Maya, the altars for the celebration of the Day of the Dead or HanalPixán (food for the dead in the Maya language) are ready. Far from the lights and lavish resorts, the people of Quintana Roo of Mayan descent work together as a family to receive their dead. Women, dressed in their white hipiles (traditional embroidered blouses), prepare the food. The children bring flowers, decorate the altar and help cleaning the house; the men bring wood and products from the field to be placed on the offering.
In recent years, communities have accepted to open the doors of their homes during these days to receive visitors and invite them to participate in this celebration so dear to the Mexican people. The eyes of the visitors are filled with surprise: colorful altars with fragrant dishes and fresh fruit. Each object placed on the altar has a meaning, water, candles, salt, toys, portraits… The charming Mayan language and the faint sobs of the children and women who miss their dead can be heard around the altar.
The Maya considered the cenotes (freshwater natural sinkholes) as the gateways to Xibalba or World of the Dead, therefore, they celebrated some ceremonies here to call their dead, asking them to come and enjoy the banquet that had been prepared in their honor. The dim light of the candles, the scent of marigold flowers, and the smoke of incense lend a mystic atmosphere to this celebration.
After the ceremony is over, the living can also enjoy the food that has been prepared, and the mucbipollo is the most sought after dish: it consists of a big tamale stuffed with chicken and spices, and covered with banana leaves, which is cooked underground. It is served with gruel or balche, a slightly spirituous drink used by the Maya during their rituals. The bread of the dead and the typical food from the Yucatan Peninsula pleases every palate, including those in the afterlife.
Who will take you there?
Chetumal-Puerto Juarez Federal Highway KM 287, Lote 13 Sur,
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, 77710 Mexico