Dia de los Muertos ceremonies extend from OLLU to Afghanistan

Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Altar constructed by a student on display in Moye Hall. 

While students gathered with their peers as well as faculty and staff today during the annual Dia de los Muertos celebration on campus, Carlos Warfied held an observance in Afghanistan to honor the fallen soldiers in his deployment. 

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a popular religious ceremony where the dearly departed are recalled, honored and celebrated. Celebrations include prayers, songs, food and private altars that are often made using sugar skulls, candles, marigolds, photos and possessions of the deceased. The Department of Religious Studies and Theology at OLLU has sponsored the Dia de los Muertos ceremony at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto for more than 20 years.

Warfield learned of this event while studying at OLLU several years ago. “While taking a Catholicism class with Dr. (John) Nira, I helped with the Day of the Dead procession,” he explained in an email from Afghanistan. “The following year, I built an altar for my grandfather that had passed away. Since then, my altars have turned into tools for teaching my friends and family about the Day of the Dead tradition.”

Warfield left OLLU to enlist in the military and took the special tradition with him. A few weeks ago, he wrote to Dr. Nira, asking for the particulars of the processional used at OLLU. In response, Dr. Nira sent Carlos copies of previous programs.

At Warfield’s request, fellow troops will bring pictures of their loved ones to an altar he has built. He does not know how many soldiers will attend the observance, but he does know is he is eager to share an OLLU tradition with troops on the other side of the world.