Day of the Dead: Altar honors immigrants who died on their journey

Muñoz, president of Mujeres de la Tierra, in front of the altar honoring immigrants who have died.
Muñoz, president of Mujeres de la Tierra, in front of the altar honoring immigrants who have died.

This Dia de los Muertos, or "Day of the Dead," Mujeres de la Tierra will host an altar dedicated to immigrants who have died seeking a better life.

"There's been a lot of immigrant-bashing lately for those living, and no recognition for those who have died in trying to seek better lives,"  Irma Muñoz, president of Mujeres de la Tierra, said. "Mujeres de la Tierra does this in their honor."

The altar will honor any immigrant who has died, "whether they be from Guatemala, Syria, Vietnam, any person," Muñoz said. The altar will be displayed at the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens' atrium all week. Overlooking the decorated altar will be a 16-foot "calavera," or skeleton, named Esperanza — meaning hope — also made in their honor.

(Photo: Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority)

Muñoz said that the organization felt that it was important to recognize that not every migrant makes it to their destination.

"[A person] who for some reason didn't make it, whether they died on their journey or were killed on their journey or disappeared on their journey — this altar is dedicated to them, " Muñoz said.

Muñoz said that Mujeres de la Tierra hopes that the altar also brings attention to the community space at the L.A. River Center and Gardens. Many residents are not aware that the L.A. River Center is a state park and free to the public, Muñoz said.

"We think that by opening it up to the public, that people are going to come here and realize that this is for them," she said.

The altar by Mujeres de la Tierra will be joined by two other altars built by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, said Muñoz. One of those altars will be dedicated to Los Angeles leaders who were committed to environmental justice, clean air and clean water, as well as to the preservation of open space. The other will be dedicated to the wildlife corridor and urban wildlife that have lost their lives because of encroachment Muñoz said.

Muñoz said that the public is invited to bring their own pictures with frames to the altar, with their name and information on the back of the frames. The altar will be accessible from 9 a.m. to 8.p.m starting Tuesday. On Saturday, it will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The altar will be taken down Nov. 2.

On the Day of the Dead, a holiday widely celebrated throughout Latin America and in parts of the United States that honors loved ones who have died, altars, or "ofrendas," are made and filled with something meaningful. These items range from pictures of the dead to their favorite dishes. There is also a variety of other celebrations.