Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead festival celebrated in Hollywood Forever cemetery


On Saturday, October 30, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery celebrated the Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead festival for the 22nd year. This year, the famous Los Angeles cemetery had two separate ticketed events: Dia de los Muertos and Noche de los Muertos. About 40,000 people were expected to attend the events.

The Dia de los Muertos took place between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. while the Noche de los Muertos took place between 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Both events were marked with cultural performances featuring musical artists such as mariachi bands as well as traditional dance and cultural performances. There were art exhibitions and many vendors showcased their arts and crafts. Mexican food was also available aplenty from different taco vendors.

This year, the theme of festival was centered around the Quetzal bird, which is similar to the phoenix that rises from its ashes. All participants gather together at the Hollywood Cemetery to witness the rebirth of the Phoenix Quetzal. They also invoked the return of the Quetzalcoati. The ancient god of the Mayans and the Aztecs revives mankind from the underworld, using his own blood.

According to a report by Gabriel Avila, the Director of Dance for the Day of the Dead in Los Angeles said that the theme behind the return of the Quetzalcoati was to think about resurgence and coming back after tumultuous times. Tyler Cassity, co-owner and president of Hollywood Forever said that the past eighteen months were “like the day of death everyday” and that the symbol of their hope for the year was the “Quetzalcoati.”

Altar coordinator Angie Jimenez told NPR that she expected thousands of vibrant orange marigold flowers to be on the altars although this year the number of altars have been limited to 80 due to COVID-19 related reasons.

The altars are created by families and consists of photos of the dead. Family members also add candles, bottles of mezcal and tequila. Food and sugar skulls are also placed at the altar. Marigold or cempasuchil, the Aztec name name of these yellow and orange flowers, complete the altar. The fragrance of these flowers is considered to be the path by which the souls of ancestors are guided from their burial spots to their family homes.

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