Hanal Pixán: Food For The Souls
This Maya tradition for the Day of the Dead is when food takes on a special meaning for the spirits who returned home to visit their families
Mexico is a country where the theme of death is treated with profound respect and humor at the same time. In the region of the Yucatan Peninsula on October 31 and November 1 and 2, Hanal Pixán or “Food For The Souls” is celebrated. This tradition of the Mayan people is to remember loved ones who have died. They believe that the souls have permission to return to our world for a brief time each year, and because of this, elaborate dishes and altars are prepared to receive them.
The traditions surrounding Hanal Pixán are similar to Day of the Dead celebrations in other parts of Mexico. Families set up altars in their homes and decorate graves in the cemeteries.
On the altar typical seasonal food is placed: atole, mucbipollos, jicama, mandarin oranges, oranges, xec, papaya candies, coconut, pumpkin seeds, tamales, and containers of tanchucuá (an atole made from corn, cocoa, pepper, and anise).
Every day of the Hanal Pixán festivities has a different significance to the typical Day of the Dead celebrations.
October 31 is dedicated to children who have died and is called U Hanal Palal. November 1 is called U
Hanal Nucuch Uinicoob and is dedicated to deceased adults, while November 2 is called U Hanal Pixanoob and is when families offer food for the souls. “Eight days after Hanal Pixán, Maya people celebrate the bix, where lines of candles are lighted so the dead find their way home. These candles represent the ceiba (the Maya sacred tree), the connection between life and death. Candles are also placed on the altars representing the 13 layers of the universe. The black one stands for the root which connects us to the underworld,” according to Hermelindo Be Cituk, president of the National Indigenous Association for the Autonomy of Quintana Roo (ANIPA). The Hanal Pixán tradition is more common in the southern communities of the state such as Lázaro Cárdenas, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, José María Morelos and Tulum where people prepare a purification ritual in order to welcome their dead. Even though Cancun and the Riviera Maya are multicultural destinations this tradition is still practiced here.
The local Departments of Culture in each municipality of the state have organized the Festival de Día de Muertos Hanal Pixan 2015 for October 31 and November 1. See What’s On for more information of events.
For Hanal Pixán, on the altar Mayan traditional and seasonal food is placed / Photo: Cachonavarro Wordpress