The Dead Come Alive in San Agustin Etla!
One of the highlights of photographing El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico was visiting the small town of San Agustin Etla about ten miles outside of Oaxaca. The town is known for their wild celebrations, outrageous costumes and nonstop Banda music.
Most of the world is familiar with Halloween since it is a huge commercial enterprise, especially in the United States. While death is treated as something to be feared in Halloween tradition, the exact opposite holds true with the Day of the Dead where death is looked upon as a source of celebration.
The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday and is celebrated throughout Mexico. Family and friends get together to pray and remember their loved ones who have passed away. The celebration takes place on November 1–2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2).
The Day of the Dead celebrations are embodied in the town of San Agustin Etla where my five senses were duly assaulted by outrageous costumes, deafening music, enticing street food and a boisterous party atmosphere.
The evening’s festivities culminated in a friendly town rivalry in which the neighboring town paraded over to San Agustin’s central square to begin a face to face show down. I knew the atmosphere was going to be unhinged when I saw a security squad of men with batons form a human barricade between the two towns.
For a good hour or so the two towns partied on their respective sides of the street trying to outdo one another with flamboyant costumes, riotous dancing and piercing Banda bands. Of course, I happen to be right in the middle of all of it.
I set my camera on a low ISO setting and fired my Canon 550 EX Speedlite flash to “drag the shutter” which gave this scene a sense of motion to convey all the commotion that was happening around me.
After experiencing the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico, Halloween will never be the same.
Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography