Episode 10. Summoning the Spirits
Dia de los Muertos at Hollywood Forever cemetery was envisioned for the purpose of providing an authentic venue, in which this ancient tradition could be genuinely observed, celebrated and preserved. Tyler Cassity and Deisy Marquez conceived this festival of life as a platform which would synthesize creativity for the means of remembering the departed spirits of our lives. This event has provided a gateway for those who wish to re-acquaint themselves with their deeply rooted traditions and profoundly engage with one of the most devotional celebrations for the continuous cycle of life. At the heart of this sacred event are the meticulously individually crafted altars and spiritual shrines.
These dazzling private tributes and offerings which provide a linkage between ancient traditions and modern customs chronicle the perpetual relation between faith, family and history. Representing and understanding the vitality of this ancient custom, Celine Mares conceptualized the necessity of incorporating this enigmatic mystical custom to thrive within the realms of the Forever cemetery. Interwoven into this effective visionary ensemble lies the creative commitments of dedicated program directors, who have continuously maintained and strengthened the core foundation of this uniquely inspired event through providing a linkage and emerging bond with the many culturally mindful artisans from our diverse community.
In the spirit of the goddess Mictecacihuatl, known as the “Lady of the Dead,” and Samhain, the Celtic day feast of the dead, Hollywood Forever has engrained and developed a much desired and appreciated emotionally driven chord with its surrounding community. On the eve of the 8 th year anniversary of this benevolent observance Tyler, Daisy, Celine and the program directors continue along with countless committed volunteers and artisans to call upon the living to engage and summons the spirits of our lives who shaped, inspired and left their prints engraved in our souls. By providing our community with a genuine setting to learn the importance and significance of this celebration, the original objectives of the founders have been realized and internationally recognized by “tens” of thousands of new and returning faithful visitors who have been continuously welcomed as guests and interactive participants to this annual and growing community based festivity.
The Spirit of Hollywood Forever
Home to the oldest memorial park in Hollywood dating back to 1899, Hollywood Forever is the only cemetery in the country which opens its gates and welcomes its surrounding community to commemorate El Dia de los Muertos. Hollywood Forever is genuinely focused in striving to bestow a memorable occasion by embracing the celebratory process of death and dying through providing a historically recognized cultural setting for this festive event and sacred observance. This community based event encompasses and visually illustrates a Pre- Columbian ancient jovial traditional view of death with a modern eclectic celebratory observance.
History of tradition
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. This night is an important feast and evocation. It is a time when family members share memorable stories that evoke the lives of their ancestors . Offerings and altars are created to welcome and commemorate the dead. Marigolds and incense are offered in abundance because it is believed their aromatic scents guide the dead to the place where the feast is being held. . A profusion of candles dispels the darkness just as the souls are being illuminated from the shadows of death. Altars are created with photos, mementos, fruit, bread, and other favorite things of the ancestors being welcomed and honored. The artifacts of these altars also provide the opportunity to teach children about those who came before them. Dia de los Muertos is a time of celebration on remembrance. It is also a time to come to terms with our mortality and become aware of the cycle of life and death. Rather than deny and fear death this event teaches us to accept and contemplate the meaning of mortality.
Family Liaison Director,
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
AdelaMarquez has been a key member of the staff of the famous HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY in Hollywood for 20 years. She currently holds the position of Family Liaison, which involves the sensitive task of comforting the bereaved and ensuring that the burial of their loved one goes smoothly. It's a task for which she is uniquely suited, with her strong belief in life after death and the importance of celebrating life.
Adela, along with the Cemetery's owner Tyler Cassity and her sister Deisy Marquez, was one of the founders of the famous "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead) event at Hollywood Forever, which has grown to more than 40,000 attendees since its inception in 1999.
Adela is also an avid skier, and frequently travels back to her native home in Mexico. She also plays the guitar and has a beautiful voice, which you can hear in the episode, or right here: