Ceremonias have an honored role at Instituto. One of our principles tenets is “la cultura cura” – culture cures. We know that cultural traditions can help individuals and communities heal and thrive. Consequently, Instituto’s approach to wellness for the Chicano/Latino community incorporates cultural and spiritual health as much as contemporary mental health. In holistic terms, Instituto addresses the mind, body, spirit, and social health of our community.
Cultural and spiritual practices connect us to our ancestors, traditions, families, and communities. They provide seeds of resilience, community centeredness, and empowerment from which we are able to heal and grow.
Ceremonias honor various the cycle of life. They acknowledge rites of passage, as when girls and boys leave adolescence and become young adults. Through honoring this change, young women and men are reminded of the new responsibilities and expectations of adulthood. The ritual is a reminder that they are not alone as they face this new transition in life. It also serves to remind the rest of us that these young adults will need support to become responsible and healthy adults.
Other ceremonies honor transitions from childhood to adolescence, and from adulthood to becoming an elder. All ceremonies honor the change in seasons, the role of nature and the lessons can learn from it, and change in a community. Part of the healing nature of ceremony is the opportunity it affords us to reflect on our lives, the lessons we can take to heart, and our connection to both the past and future.
Ceremonies within the Chicano/Latino/Indigena community vary considerably from one community, region, country, and generation to the next. Dia de los muertos, for example, is practiced differently, but remains focused on honoring the dead. While embracing the contemporary evolution of many of our traditional ceremonies, Instituto also seeks to preserve their indigenous roots as much as possible.
As Chicanos/Latinos/Indigenas, ceremonias are part of our cultural identity. They exist as an inclusionary community practice that promotes community, healing, and health. Whatever our individual cultural and spiritual might be, they help to sustain and connect us to ourselves as living traditions.