Undas, Pilipinx Day of the Dead

Undas (also known as Araw ng mga Patay) is a holiday honoring the dead widely celebrated in the Philippines. Pilipinx families traditionally visit cemeteries on November 1 or 2 to hold gatherings around the graves of their departed loved ones and lay out flowers and candles. Often the occasion is treated as a reunion or banquet, with families bringing food and drink and camping out all day or even overnight. Some families visit the cemetery several days in advance to clean up the grave site and repaint the tombstones, so that the graves look more presentable on the day itself. They also offer masses in memory of the faithful departed. Candles are lit up and prayers are said for the eternal rest of the souls of the dearly departed. In between prayers, there’s usually a lot of talking and sharing of stories about the deceased, and some families will even bring their magic sing and a small tv for some karaoke/videoke sessions after the prayers. Pangangaluluwa is a practice usually seen in the provinces, where a group of people stop by different houses on the night of All Saints’ Day, singing and asking for alms and prayers. They are said to represent the souls stuck in purgatory, asking for prayers from the living to help them get to heaven. Pag-aatang or Atang is an Ilokano belief and practice, and is a food offering for the departed soul to show respect, affection and remembrance for the loved ones who passed away.

For those of us in diaspora, now is a great time to build an altar honoring your ancestors with pictures and offerings of food, beverages, flowers, incense, and candles. Invite in the qualities of your deceased loved ones that you would like to absorb into your own life, and open channels to receive any messages and wisdom with love and respect.