Day of the Dead 2018: Ilford celebrates lost loved ones’ lives

PUBLISHED: 15:30 22 October 2018

Day of the dead parade in Ilford Town Centre on Sunday 20th October 2018. Photo by Ellie Hoskins

Day of the dead parade in Ilford Town Centre on Sunday 20th October 2018. Photo by Ellie Hoskins

Ellie Hoskins Photographer 07743306087

Ilford became possessed with the spirit of Mexico as performers and residents - painted as the skeletons of their late ancestors - paraded through High Road.

Community members joined professional artists from performance company Mandinga Arts to put on a 30-strong “Day of the Dead” parade in the town centre on Saturday, October 20.

Among the cast of characters were Cabezones, waist coat-wearing men with massive skull heads and skeletal Catrinas who - as is tradition in the Oaxaca region of Mexico – dress in intricately embroidered blouses.

Some carried a coffin upon their shoulders, while a deceased vegetable vendor pushed a cart stacked with corn.

They traced a path from Redbridge Central Library, in Clements Road, to the steps Town Hall, to the end of the High Road and back again.

Stephanie Applin, Mandinga Arts’ general manager, was among the troupe of performers.

“The crowds were great. The day was so beautiful and the weather was amazing,” she said.

“This was a really great project.

“This day, in Mexico, is about celebrating the past and it gives a unique perspective on life and death that isn’t somber and sad.”

In a series of events leading up to the parade, Mandinga Arts created an ofrenda installation which will remain in Redbridge Central Library over the coming weeks.

“In Mexico, an ofrenda is key to the day of the dead,” Stephanie explained.

“It includes photos of loved ones who had passed away decorated with candles, food and skull motifs.

She added: “It is a piece of art but it is also something that the community can contribute to.

“They can put names, photos, memories of poems of their loved ones.

“It is to be a place where community can talk about death and dying.”

Ahead of the big event, New City College students took part in a make up workshop last Tuesday.

The arts company also ran three performance and mask making classes, which were open to the general public, in the lead up to the parade.

Redbridge Mayor Cllr Debbie Kaur-Thiara and deputy mayor Cllr Taifur Rashid were among the attendees.

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