Día de los Muertos Celebration in East LA Cemetery

"We wish he was here," one attendee honoring the dead said.

Angelenos gathered to celebrate Día de los Muertos at East Los Angeles' Calvary Cemetery Sunday.

The celebration is a family-friendly day of food, face painting, folkloric dancers, mariachi and a special performance by Trio Ellas.

"It's my son," said Blanca Beltran, who attended the event.

She said she is still heartbroken over the loss of her 10-year-old son Ivan. The Beltrans joined more than 100 families creating elaborately decorated altars, all receiving ceremonial blessings.

Evangelina Calvillo was brought to tears talking about her 84-year-old father Agustin.

"We wish he was here," Calvillo said.

Four generations gathered at Agustin's grave site, remembering and rejoicing his life.

"He loved music and having his family around him," Calvillo said.

The family brought his favorite candies, traditional sweet bread and marigolds to cover his tombstone. The bright flower is supposed to guide his spirit to the cemetery.

Each signifies something different: Candles are a sign of remembrance, and flowers symbolize life. All are part of the family's Mexican culture, passed down through generations, reflecting on the legacy that's been left behind.

The festivities at the cemetery also included a large outdoor Mass and procession around the cemetery mausoleum.

Día de los Muertos, or All Souls Day, is a faith-based tradition of celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased through songs, prayers and altars, event organizers said.

A large community altar featured 2,000 marigolds, organizers said. Community members were invited to participate in this altar by bringing pictures of loved ones who have died.

About 20 other altars made by community groups, businesses, Catholic schools and parishes will be displayed at the cemetery's main mausoleum.

The event was an opportunity for families to celebrate a tradition combining their faith with cultural heritage, organizers said.

The event was from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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