Location: Pomuch, Campeche, Mexico
Today we visited the cemetery in Pomuch. Here whenever someone dies, they are buried for three years. After that they are dug up and have their bones cleaned. Then in time for Hanal Pixan, they are placed in a wooden crate with the top open. Each year they are given a new embroidered cloth for veneration.
This is their way of honoring the dead, and some say that a relative who is poorly taken care of can “become angry and wander lost through the streets.” For most people of my culture, skeletons are something that we want little to do with. We archaeologists treat them with respect, but here they are treated with reverence.
The people here are Catholics, but the practice goes back to ancient Maya times where the skulls of the ancestors were often kept and venerated. Quite a few of the young folk have converted the Evangelical churches, where they are told to abandon such practices.
Some of the elders wonder who will look after their bones when they are gone.