Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dia De Los Muertos! (All Saints Day)

Scene from the day of the dead sequence of Sergi Esenstein's
lost masterpiece Qué Viva Mexico!

Every year the local cemetery, (in my case Hollywood Forever in Hollywood) is transformed by a flood of people celebrating life.
In Mexico, a traditional Dia De Los Muertos (All Saints Day) or Day of the Dead, is celebrated from Oct 31 (all Hallows Even) to Nov. 2 (All Souls Day).
Families would take a bed or table into the cemetery and place it over the grave of an ancestor and set up an altar to their life with photos, candles, offerings of food and beverage and personal favorite items.
The families would then spend the day in visiting with the dead.

Growing up in the south I was not prepared for seeing people, whole families, having a picnic in the cemetery, enmass.
It is amazing, moving and life affirming.

The version practiced here in Los Angeles is more of a hybrid.
African dance rituals are included, Mayan and Aztec dancers perform on stages, crafts people and artists sell decorated paper maché or sugar skulls, votives and other Day Of The Dead commemoratives, people dress up in all kinds of elaborate costume, set up altars to the memory of the deceased, both pesonal and famous, and more.... really a sight to behold.

Here are some personal photos from last year.....

Oaxacan dancers perform at the entrance to the cemetery

Mayan temple stage for performances of traditional ceremonial dances

Two women by a personal family altar

Altar to the vinyl record

Temple altar

Altar to Looney Tunes Voice artist Mel Blanc (who is buried here)

Angel Altar

African dancers perfrom near one of the decorated crypts. Islands of candles float all over the lagoon

Gate keepers at the entrance to the main masoleum

Three men in calaveras costume

two "ladies" in calavera costume

I'm looking forward to this years celebration this evening.... more pictures tomorrow.

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