Tag Archives: capilla

Dead Chapels: Capillas

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Hispanic (product of Spanish rule in the Americas)
Age: 21
Occupation: student, front desk worker/ website translator
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/25/2012
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English

My informant told me about capillas, which are little chapels that people build above the ground where a person is buried. Usually they put cement there first, so the ground above the grave doesn’t get dirty. Then they can put gifts like flowers or candles inside of it. They’re constructed as a way to honor the dead. As my informant said, if you don’t have a landmark above the grave as a reminder, you may forget that person is there. He said his mother’s side of his family is thinking of building one over his uncle Basilio’s grave, because he is only one in his mother’s immediate family who has died, and there are cement and bricks over his grave, but no capilla yet. Based on this and other information my informant shared with me, honoring the dead and honoring family is highly important to him in his culture. It seems as though the dead are not simply buried and forgotten, but they still play a significant role in the lives of the living.