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The Mexican Craft Collective’s Ofrenda at El Pastor, London

Casa & Plaza Pastor, Coal Drops Yard
Until 2nd November 2020

 The Ofrenda on Día de Muertos is a very important element of our celebrations, if not the most important of them all. With our ofrendas we remember the departed, invite them in and celebrate life together.. An Ofrenda is the perfect dialogue amongst the living and the dead to celebrate life.

It’s the perfect excuse to meet again with the deceased and stay up to date since their departure.

The Mexican Craft Collective Ofrenda was created to bring tradition and culture to the table -so to speak- a space where heritage and talent are showcased.  The middle floor is dedicated to the months lost during the 2020 pandemic lockdown, trips, family get togethers, nights out; all of it replaced by facemasks, isolation and cancelled plans. A COVID-19 piñata reminds us that we will beat it, and once we do, we will get back to life, perhaps with a more thoughtful understanding and respect for it.

The ofrendas can be set in several levels which mainly symbolize earth and heaven. There are a few traditional elements but the rest is up to those who create them.

For each deceased relative, a candle is set. Their light is thought to guide them on their way back to the land of the living. The flame symbolizes fire, one of the four elements.

Its also customary to have Sugar Skulls, brightly decorated skulls made of Alfeñique paste. They’re part of the Aztec legacy of the tzompantli and represent the dead.

Cempasúchil flowers adorn the ofrenda, their name ‘cempaxochitl’ comes from the Nahuatl and means flower of 12 petals. It flowers in the autumn and legend has it that it’s petals mark the path for the departed as they’re said to keep the heat of the sun. The Aztec legend is what made this flower a staple of festivities.

Salt and water are also essential; they are set to quench the thirst of the souls, tired from their long trip. Water also purifies and cleanses and is also another element.

Incense, Copal, is burned and thought to elevate prayers to God And colorful papel picado represents the element of wind.

Pictures of the defunct are placed on the ofrenda, as well as some of their favorite clothing, perhaps a hat or a shawl.  For the children, small toys, lotería or their favorite sweets.

Food is specially prepared for the souls. Their preferred dishes are cooked for them and placed on the altar: mole, tamales, fruits, arroz rojo -red rice-, hot chocolate and dried fruit. Some times cigarettes or liquor if the dead relative enjoyed them when alive. And of course Pan de Muerto. If you look closely you can make out the bones shaped with dough on top of them.

Each flower, each drink, each food give memories shape ‘I remember you eating this bread’ ‘ I think of you drinking this Tequila.

An ofrenda is the ultimate pretext to celebrate a life that even death can’t erase.

When Memories are full of love. They will never disappear.

Mariel Fragoso/Claudia Palacios




-papel picado, nicho, painted Lele


-Bread of the dead and conchas


-Catrina flower headband


-fringed earrings, embroidered pictures


-dried chilies, snacks, mole, tamales, hominy grains,skull shot glasses


-Day of the dead facemasks


-Ceremonial tortillas


-Mini coronavirus piñata


-dog bandana


-Telar tablecloth, embroidered tortilla warmer, Catrina earrings


-Guajillo, Pasilla and Chipotle salsas


-El Jimador and El Pastor biscuits

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