Yesterday Kimi and I attended Dia de Los Muertos at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery here in LA. It felt like it was a million degrees outside, so I was surprised to see so many people dressed in black and in formal wear without breaking a sweat. The Hollywood Forever Cemetery was lined with displays, all paying tributes to loved ones (even loved furry companions). The whole experience made me a bit sad, especially when display that was dedicated a young girl who lost her battle with cancer, but as tradition goes, this is meant to be a happy celebration.
A little bit of history about Dia de Los Muertos from the LA Day of the Dead website:
Dia De Los Muertos is one of Mexico’s traditional holidays reuniting and honoring beloved ancestors, family and friends. It is an ancient and enduring ritual when the living commune with the dead – a mystical night when the veil is lifted between their two realms and they may share a day together.
The historical roots of this celebration date back to the pre-Hispanic cultures of Meso-America of the indigenous people, especially the Nahua (Aztecs, Mayans, Toltecas, Tlaxcaltec, Chichimec, Tecpanec) and others native to Mexico more than 3,000 years. When the Spaniards conquered the country, this indigenous custom was rooted so deeply that, after five centuries of colonization, it has continued to survive and remain as celebrated as in its first days.
Throughout each period in Mexican culture, death seems to hold no terror. In Mexican art, legends, and religion, death has not been a mysterious and fearful presence but a realistic recognizable character as much a part of life as life itself. Dia De Los Muertos expresses this perspective: it is not a mournful commemoration but a happy and colorful celebration where Death takes a lively, friendly expression and is not frightening or strange. There is no place for sorrow or weeping for this could be interpreted as a discourteous to the dead relatives who are visiting gladly.
Indigenous people believed that souls did not die, that they continued living in Mictlán (Place of Death) a special place for them to finally rest. On Dia De Los Muertos, tradition holds that the dead return to earth to visit their living relatives. It is believed that although these relatives can’t see them, they can surely feel them.