Day of the Dead: Walking Art in Missoula

By Bampen Chaiyarak

I have arrived here in early October when Lady of Autumn paints the colours of fire on to the Missoula valley and I continued stay through early November then will leaving tomorrow.It just before Lord Winter will giving me the lesson of the real cold and darkness the Northern Hemisphere.

Fall color leaf is almost exhausted when Missoula community have started Halloween decorate. Almost every houses,shops or restaurants are collocate with strange decorative items along with candles, buckets of flowers, candy, dead toys for the weary spirits that they believe that happy spirits will provide protection, good luck and wisdom to their families.

The Missoula lady told me that “Day of the Dead” in November 1 & 2 every year which is coincides the Catholic feast day called All Soul’s & All Saint’s Day, the indigenous people in Mexico and some of the Catholic world where there have adoption of the Catholic combined with their own ancient beliefs of honoring their deceased loved ones. Day of the Dead is becoming very popular in the U.S. because it just once a year to have a way to celebrate and honor to the dead and also fascination with it’s mysticism on the art of death.

The oentecost believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them. And in Missoula Day of the Dead festival was founded in 1992 by the festival committee, a team of representatives from many sectors in the community who works very hard to keep the event. The festival has formed its own identity after 21 years of Missoula community. Decorating idea of Day of the Dead festivities and parades in Missoula isn’t scaring even many number of people were Dead masks, maracas and skeleton figurines etc.

Before the Parade starts there are many pre-parade performances by Dancers, throng of locals with faces painted as spirits of the dead paraded down Higgins Avenue riding bikes, skating or pushing shelving carts. They play music, puppeteer giant skeletal figures, and eventually finish at Caras Park to witness an impressive performance of African flavor by the UM African Dance and Unity Dance and Drum.

Night of November 2nd, 2013 will be in my memorabilia because I have join walk in the parade of Missoula’s Festival of the Dead. It is amazing events an annual, all-inclusive event that honors life and death through community involvement and arts. It will be referred to in my memory as “ Walking Art” in the parade. So, November 2nd in Missoula is unlike November 2nd anywhere else.

Every day I live here in Missoula,every day I laugh and every day I learn. But it’s time to say goodbye.


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