All Souls' Procession

November 5, 2006

We were barely ambulatory after a two-day backpack to Pima Saddle, but nothing would keep us from the annual All Souls' Procession. This annual observance lays bare Tucson's wild Gypsy heart more than any other event.

Hobbling as fast as we could, we caught up with the procession just as it crossed under the Fourth Avenue Bridge.

According to the Many Mouths, One Stomach web site, All Souls' is "a two-mile long human-powered procession that ends [with] the burning a very large urn filled with the hopes, offerings and wishes for those who have passed... The All Souls Procession a celebration of the lives of our loved ones who have passed, an acknowledgement of their profound contribution and impact on our lives and the unique gifts they have given us, as well as grieving and mourning that they are not among us anymore."

The artists and performers spend half a year preparing their contributions to the festival, and the outpouring of creativity is testimony to Tucson's vibrant, Latin-inspired artistic tradition.

Although more than 7500 people fill the streets of Tucson, this is a family event, remarkably free of problems with alcohol, rowdiness or even littering.

Based on the Mexican "Dia de Los Muertos," the All Souls' Procession is the best possible way to celebrate a November 1 birthday!

The biggest surprise for me this year was the theme song, the haunting Rom plainte known as "Erdelezi" or "Sa o Roma". I did my best to supply the vocals, but no one has equalled the rendition of this song by Albanian superstar Merita Halili.

Erdelezi (Click for a scratchy mp3) Same amala oro kelena. Oro kelena dive kerena. Sa o Roma, Amaro dive, Amaro dive, Ederlezi.
Sa o Roma, babo, babo. Sa o Roma, o daje. Sa o Roma, babo, babo. Ej, Ederlezi. Sa o Roma, daje.

Sa o Roma babo, E bakren cinen. A me coro, dural besava. A a daje, amaro dive. Amaro dive erdelezi. Ediwado babo, amenge bakro. Sa o Roma, babo. E bakren cinen. Sa o Roma, babo babo, Sa o Roma daje. Sa o Roma, babo babo, Erdelezi. Erdelezi, Sa o Roma Daje. Sa o Roma, babo babo, Sa o Roma daje. Sa o Roma, babo babo, Erdelezi, Erdelezi. Sa o Roma Daje.

Translation: All of the gypsies, father, they sacrifice the sheep, but me, poor drummer,I must watch from afar. Oh yes, mother, this is our feast. This is our feast, Ederlezi ... Father, a sheep for us.