Day of the Dead


I arrive in Guatemala on The Day of the Dead, November 1st. I’m curious about this holiday, so I go to the cemetery to see what’s happening. What I find is quite interesting.

The atmosphere is like a party. There are people everywhere. Families are sitting around the graves of their dead ancestors. They clean the graves and add fresh flowers. I walk through the cemetery and admire the beauty of all the colorful flowers.

There is also color in the sky, because many kids are flying kites. Some families are having a picnic next to the graves. They eat, drink, and chat together. People laugh and smile.

In the Unites States, cemeteries are always somber. We certainly never have festivals or parties next to graves. We don’t laugh or play music or fly kites in cemeteries either.

I find that I prefer the Guatemalan approach. I like the way they remember and celebrate those who have passed away. I like that they acknowledge death, instead of denying it the way Americans do. I like that there is life, as well as death, in their cemeteries.

Guatemalans call it “The Day of the Dead”, but it is also a day to appreciate life.


Hari Kematian

Aku sampai di Guatemala pada Hari Kematian, 1 November. Penasaran dengan hari besar ini, aku pergi ke pemakaman untuk melihat apa yang sedang berlangsung. Kutemukan hal yang cukup menarik.

Suasananya seperti sebuah pesta. Orang dimana-mana. Keluarga duduk mengelilingi kuburan leluhur mereka yang telah wafat. Mereka membersihkan kuburan dan menaruh bunga-bunga segar. Aku berjalan menyusuri pemakaman dan takjub akan keindahan bunga-bunga yang berwarna-warni.

Langit disana juga berwarna, sebab banyak anak menerbangkan layang-layang. Beberapa keluarga bertamasya di samping kuburan. Mereka makan, minum dan bercakap-cakap. Orang-orang tertawa dan tersenyum.

Di Amerika, pemakaman selalu suram. Tentu kami tidak pernah mengadakan festival atau pesta apapun dekat kuburan. Kami tidak tertawa atau bermain musik atau pun bermain layangan di pemakaman.

Kurasa aku lebih suka cara orang Guatemala. Aku suka cara mereka merayakan dan mengingat orang-orang yang telah tiada. Aku suka mereka menghargai kematian, bukan sebaliknya menolak seperti yang dilakukan orang Amerika. Aku suka ada kehidupan juga kematian di pemakaman mereka.

Orang Guatemala menyebutnya “Hari Kematian”, yang juga merupakan hari untuk menghargai kehidupan.


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