August 25, 2014 – For immediate release
Equinox Vigil: A creative and meaningful event to honour the dead
Calgary, Alberta – A graveyard might be the last place you’d expect to find live music and performances, contemporary art installations, and an atmosphere of community camaraderie. But that’s exactly what Calgarians can look forward to at the 3rd annual Equinox Vigil in Union Cemetery, which takes place Saturday, September 20, from 6:30 to 9:30 pm.
Inspired by global cultural traditions like Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations, Equinox Vigil is the brainchild of local artist and social activist Sharon Stevens. She describes the Vigil as a “non-religious, sacred event to honour the dead and reflect on the natural cycle of life and death itself.”
The event is held each autumn in Union Cemetery, Calgary’s oldest burial ground and a sanctuary of tranquility in the heart of the city. There, surrounded by fluttering prayer flags, fresh flowers and glowing lanterns, the public is invited to pay respect to their deceased loved ones and ancestors in creative and meaningful ways.
Colorful shrines and art installations created by professional artists form the heart of the Equinox Vigil experience. But Stevens points out that this is not art as displayed in a gallery setting. Rather, she says, these artworks come alive through public participation.
“By performing simple acts like adding personal mementoes to shrines or joining a lantern procession, each visitor to Equinox Vigil becomes part of a community drawing close to mourn its deceased through art and ritual,” says Stevens.
The event also includes live acoustic music; innovative storytelling and spoken word performances; poetry readings by Poet Laureate Emeritus Kris Demeanor; and fascinating presentations about the history of Union Cemetery with Calgary’s Historian Laureate Harry Sanders. Visitors can also create personal memorial tributes in a Craft Tent, warm up with tea and treats in a hosted Tea Garden, and post messages in honour of departed loved ones at a Digital Shrine.
With the volunteer-led event costing $20,000 to produce, Stevens admits that coming up with the money to pay for the annual event is a challenge. However, she says, “Equinox Vigil is such a profoundly meaningful, healing and inspiring experience for Calgary families it’s important to carry on the tradition every year.” Those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation can do so online at equinoxvigil.ca/
Equinox Vigil is free, family-friendly, and welcomes all members of Calgary’s culturally diverse community, regardless of whether they have loved ones interred at Union Cemetery. Visitors are advised to dress for the weather and bring a flashlight.
Complete details can be found at equinoxvigil.ca/
What: Equinox Vigil 2014
When: Saturday, September 20, 2014
Time: 6:30 – 9:30 PM
Where: Union Cemetery (off Macleod Trail at 25 Ave SW)