Day of the Dead Festival at the Church of Scientology Honors Ancestors
Members of the Los Angeles Guatemala community gathered at the Church of Scientology Los Angeles this weekend for a ceremony and Fiambre—a 500-year-old Guatemalan custom in which families join in creating a huge platter of food that is then shared by all. It is held each year as part of the observance of the Day of the Dead to remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed away.
This year’s Fiambra weighed 900 pounds and is thought to be the largest ever created outside the borders of Guatemala. It included 80 Ingredients from a variety of meats and seafood to vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, spices, juice, and an oil and vinegar dressing. It was followed by a traditional Guatemalan dessert made of ayote, a winter squash native to Guatemala, flavored with cinnamon and a cane sugar product called panela.
Los Angeles County is home to more than 200,000 Guatemalans making it the largest Guatemalan community in the U.S.—a community that has grown more than 25 percent over the past decade.
Guatemalan-American community leaders believe in the importance of promoting the traditions, values and culture of the land of their ancestors some 2,700 miles away.
With entire generations growing up having little contact with their roots, a traditional Guatemalan Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration is one way to preserve these customs and keep the culture alive. Organizers believe that sharing the community’s cultural heritage is vital to preserve the children’s sense of identity and instill unity and national pride.
While families created the magnificent Fiambre, mural artist Oscar de Salcaja created a chalk painting in the Church of Scientology parking lot celebrating the culture of Guatemala.
Children ages 7 to 12, born in Los Angeles of Guatemalan parents, took part in a Barriletes folk dance with its giant kites that are part of the traditional celebration of All Saints Day. And five folk groups, representing different regions of Guatemala, performed for those gathered for the celebration.
“Thank you to the Church of Scientology for providing a place to keep our country’s traditions alive,” said Walter Batres, leader of the Guatemalan Migrants Network. “We want to preserve our heritage here in the United States and pass it down to our children. This is the second year we have been able to hold our Fiambre here at your Church and we are grateful for this.”
The Church of Scientology has partnered with the Guatemalan community since the 1990s to provide tools to improve the quality of life and the future of Guatemalans in their homeland and Los Angeles.
Working together on food drives, the Church of Scientology Los Angeles and the Guatemalan Chamber of Commerce helped thousands of local families overcome food insecurity during the pandemic.
Those attending the Fiambre were invited to return for the Church’s annual Community Holiday Lighting Ceremony Saturday, November 19, to help “flip the switch” on two city blocks of holiday lights and stay for the hot cocoa, live music, and winter-themed family fun.
Los Angeles Scientology Churches serve as hubs for religious organizations, like-minded groups and community leaders all over the Southland, welcoming all cultures, all religions and all nationalities to create a positive Los Angeles.
The Church of Scientology Los Angeles, dedicated by Scientology ecclesiastical leader Mr. David Miscavige in 2010, is featured in an episode of Inside Scientology on the Scientology Network, available on DIRECTV channel 320 and streaming at Scientology.tv, through mobile apps and via the Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV platforms.
The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.
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