COACHELLA, Calif. — Mariachi, Aztec dancers, altars, rosaries, flowers, pan de muertos, and a religious service – this is how the community will honor their dead at Forest Lawn’s inaugural Día de los Muertos Celebration.
“There has never been such an event in the east side of the valley, this will be the first,” said Ernesto Rosales, manager of Forest Lawn’s Indio and Coachella offices. “This helps folks continue celebrating the traditions from Mexico.”
The celebration will begin with a display of community altars at 4 p.m. on Friday, November 2, at Forest Lawn’s Coachella office, 51990 Jackson Street. One altar will be selected as the winner of the $500 grand prize. A religious ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. at Coachella Valley Cemetery, directly across the street at the intersection of Jackson Street and Avenue 52. The service will be led by clergy from local Catholic and Christian churches.
The event is free and open to everyone.
The idea for this celebration was first introduced by Forest Lawn, which holds similar events in other communities, but it quickly attracted the attention of various community groups.
“It is no longer a Forest Lawn event,” said Mateo Gomez, grief support coordinator for the funeral home. “It is now the Coachella community’s event.”
The planning committee includes representatives from Raices Cultura, Our Lady of Soledad Catholic Church, Victory Outreach Church, Coachella Chamber of Commerce, Coachella Valley Mexican American Chamber of Commerce, and local media outlets.
The committee hopes to make it an annual tradition at the sole Eastern Coachella Valley cemetery.
Dia de los Muertos is celebrated every year in Mexico and Latin America on November 1 and 2, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The tradition of celebrating the lives of the deceased in this manner can be traced back thousands of years to Mexico’s pre-Hispanic indigenous cultures.
“At the end of the day, this is an opportunity for people to honor their loved ones,” said Rosales.
For more information, please visit www.forestlawn.com or call (800)204-3131.
— Coachella Unincorporated