Dia de los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

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Day of the Dead LA style!

Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday celebrated Oct. 31-Nov. 2nd to remember friends and family that have passed away. There are many traditions and cultural influences on the Day of the Dead which were all on display at this year’s event located in the Los Angeles Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The history of the festival has found the perfect setting in this historic memorial park and they have crafted a day to honor the dead that the whole family can enjoy.

Held this year on Oct.28th from noon till midnight the 18th annual Dia de los Muertos was a musical, colorful, and heart warming experience. Whether you are a local or visitor for the holiday taking the time to walk through the decorated lanes of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and watch the performances staged there is a must. The costumes by participants and enthusiasts of all ages crowd the grounds making a beautiful display of life and death at every stage.

Band: Pilgram performing at Dia De Los Muertos

Images of skeleton’s and faces painted as stylized representations may be familiar, but there are many more personal touches to this spiritual holiday. Graves become tributes, shrines to loved ones that have died. They are decorated with flowers, pictures, candles, and even the departed’s favorite food and drink. It is done in an effort to lure the souls where they can hear prayers offered and stories told in remembrance of their life. Some of the influences go even further back to the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. Aztec dancers in traditional garb put on displays and paraded through the grounds to pay tribute to their history.

Shrines to some of the famous celebrities buried at Hollywood Forever like Johnny Ramone lined the roads while smaller family displays popped up across the grass fields. Some were dedicated to the artist José Guadalupe Posada or influenced by his artwork and printmaking. Tributes to beloved pets left no one out. Bands played and stands were set up for face painting while everywhere you looked skeletons watched.

It is possible to find the whole event a bit creepy, but my experience was just the opposite. I have never understood going to the cemetery as anything other than a “thing we did” a few times a year to care for my grandparents’ graves. At Dia de los Muertos my eyes were opened to cemeteries as a place of gathering and celebration of those you love that are no longer with you and those that still are. It is a time to find joy in remembering and sharing those memories. The holiday embraces both life and death in a way I wish my culture growing up had.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery has created an event that represents the tradition while making it accessible to the entire community. I am so glad I was able to take part in this beautiful event.

Find out more at ladayofthedead.com

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