‘Dia de Los Muertos’ honors the dead

Crossing the threshold of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery this past weekend one enters a different world, a world with intricate and artful altars where the bridge between life and death is viewed not with sorrow or mourning, but with celebration and vitality. Many of the visitors have their faces elaborately painted white, with blacked-out eyes in the tradition of Mexican “calacas.”

If one were to arrive unadorned, there’s a good change one may leave with a painted face.

In Spanish, this is the celebration of “Dia de Los Muertos,” or the Day of the Dead, a time of celebration and remembrance for the departed.

Angel Acordagoitia is one of many visitors who decorated altars with flowers and photographs.

“I’m here because of my grandma, uncle, and aunt, but especially for my grandma,” says Acordagoitia. “It’s a traditional altar. In Mexico we bring real food and drinks, and make a little party of that.”

In the center of his altar lies a painting of Marilyn Monroe. “At night, when it gets dark, the face of Marilyn Monroe turns into a skull. I painted it myself,” says Acordagoitia

One altar shows a woman on a bicycle adorned with flowers set against a skyscraper.

It is there to commemorate the victims of fatal cycling crashes, and a note on the side reads: “May their lives serve as a constant reminder that the roads we commute everyday must be shared equally and respectfully.

Along with the art, there are musical and dance-related performances, an Aztec ritual cleansing, meditation, and Mayan blessing rituals like the “Transformation of the Souls.”