Story and photos Eve Jeffery
The seventh annual Day of the Dead picnic in the park was held at Heritage Park in Mullumbimby on Sunday afternoon, with guests welcomed by the Natural Death Centre’s Anna Parker, streaming sun and the lightest sprinkle of rain.
Though traditionally the Mexican Day of the Dead is a celebration that takes place on October 31, November 1 and 2, days that coincide with All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, the Natural Death Centre hold their event on the second Sunday of November, but the motivation is the same.
‘When we say the phrase Day of the Dead, we think of the Aztecs and the Meso –American civilisations such as the Mexicans who viewed death as the continuation of life’, says Anna.
‘Instead of fearing death, they embraced it. To them life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake. Mystics also say that death is the sleep from which the soul awakens in the hereafter.’
Anna said the event was a collaboration.
‘I thank all of you for coming and co-creating this beautiful, vital, colourful community event’, she said to the small gathering.
‘We are many different ages, cultures, lifestyles, sexualities, spiritualities and beliefs, but in our differences our love and loss bind us in a oneness.’
The celebration presented songs by the Mullumbimby Choir and Andrew Mignot sang a song inspired by the Persian poet Rumi called Clouds, with comforting words that include, ‘This is how I would die into the love I have for you, as pieces of cloud dissolving in sunlight.’
Anna says that in joining with others to honour those who have died, our ongoing love for them allows them to live on, in our hearts and memories.
She said that together we are also making cultural change, we are establishing for ourselves and our children a better, more natural and supportive way to do death and loss.
‘These traditional events were without the rawness of a specific or sudden loss and the intensity of a funeral’, she said.
‘This is what we are also doing here today. We are taking small but powerful steps to have one day to honour those who have departed. We are taking steps to integrate this into our own culture, to honour our own feelings and to have the support of the community.’
Anna feels that the purpose of gathering together on this specific day is to remember our past, our ancestors, and our loved ones, and to contemplate how much they have given us, how they have affected our lives, and how we have grown because of them.
‘We then move on into our future, honouring this great caravan of life that spreads out behind and in front of us.’