Text: The Municipal GAD of Riobamba.
Day of the dead is a celebration of the Catholic faith that takes place on November 2nd, to pray for, and commemorate, those who have completed their terrestrial life. Also known as “All Saints Day,” Day of the Dead festivities celebrate the passing onto another life, because death is another beginning.
In Ecuador we prepare traditional dishes specially for this day, and you can’t really celebrate it without colada morada and guaguas de pan. Colada Morada is a sweet drink made out of black or purple cornmeal and chopped fruit, and Guaguas de Pan are bread figurines in the shape of a kid. (Guagua in Quichua means baby).
The Day of the Dead is a tradition deeply rooted in the Ecuadorian Sierra, where people go to the cemetery with their families and offer flowers, prayers, serenades, and even share food and drinks, in the grave of their loved ones. The Pambamesa (an indigenous tradition where a tablecloth is placed on the floor and topped with food meant to be shared) is set in the grave so that the deceased’s relatives can share a meal while they visit.
In the urban area of Yaruquíes and the rural area of Flores and Licán you will encounter cemeteries full of life, food and family.
Another tradition of the Puruhá cultures is the Animero. Whoever personifies the Animero or “Cheerer” must wear a long white robe and carry a human skull in their hands, along with a bible, a whip, a crucifix, and a bell. The Animero tours the cemetery for 9 days, praying “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” for the souls in purgatory.
In the city of Riobamba, the Directorate of Culture Management of the GADM performs a midnight ritual in the cities’ main cemetery and the rural parishes of Químiag, Cubijíes and Punín.
The Day of the Dead is a celebration of the souls that have departed. It is a moment to share and cherish life.