Ballarat Día de Muertos: A fiesta to celebrate lost loved ones

Ballarat was treated to a Mexican treat on Saturday when the town came together to celebrate the Day of the Dead. 

CELEBRATING:  Itzel Silva, Julie Mclarn with Yolotl Dondo - Galan, Aisha Sithole, and Raphael Sitole. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric.

CELEBRATING: Itzel Silva, Julie Mclarn with Yolotl Dondo - Galan, Aisha Sithole, and Raphael Sitole. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric.

The Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos, is a Mexican tradition where families celebrate the lives of their deceased loved ones. 

The Ballarat festival was hosted by the Art Gallery of Ballarat as part of the wildly successful Romancing the Skull exhibition. 

Curator Julie McLaren said the themes and energy of the Day of the Dead tied in well with the exhibition. 

“I came across the work of José Guadalupe Posada, whose a national hero in Mexico but is not really known outside of Mexico.”

“We are showing over 20 of his prints which are closely tied to Day of the Dead celebrations and we decided we needed to bring more Mexican flavour to Ballarat.”

The Ballarat Day of the Dead festival featured mariachi band, face painting, Mexican food, performers and more for the community.

“It's been a huge team effort working with MexVic and the local Latin community; everyone has been incredible,” Ms McLaren said. 

The Mexican Social and Cultural Association of Victoria Inc., known as MexVic, were instrumental in bringing an authentic celebration to Ballarat with president Itzel Silva Ruiz describing the day as “a great opportunity.”

“Everything started because of Julie and she invited the Mexican community to celebrate the dead here in Ballarat,” Ms Ruiz said. 

“Julie has volunteered with us in previous years and we have a great partnership and this is a great opportunity to let people in Victoria know about the tradition of Day of the Dead.”

We worship our beloved people and we embrace our roots and we really think knowing your story is part of your personalty and it is part of your way of living.

Itzel Silva Ruiz - Pres MexVic

Ms Ruiz said the Day of the Dead is very important for her community and the festival gave people a chance to learn about Mexican culture. 

“We want to let people know about the richness of our country and while there is a lot of things happening like social problems and political problems, we want to let people know that Mexico is more than that.”

“It is not just sombreros and pinatas either, there is a lot of different art expressions beyond Day of the Dead as well.”

Ms Ruiz was excited to share her culture with the people of Ballarat and to give a deeper understanding of Mexican traditions. 

“It's amazing we can bring it to Ballarat and we want to let people know what this is really about.”