Mexico's Dia de los Muertos is a holiday honoring family and loved ones who have died. Colorful altars are constructed with pictures of the deceased. Their favorite foods, drinks, and even implements used during life are arranged with marigolds, ashes, water, candles, and hand cut tissue paper "flags" to create a festive, yet contemplative atmosphere.
On November 2, I visited a street in Chapala, Mexico, where families--and art students--had created a memorable scene. Favorite celebraties as well as ancestors and loved ones were honored by the altars. Several of the altars included a mirror reflecting the viewer, as if to say, "Look at yourself. Reflect on your life, and set things right, for you, too, will meet the fate of these honored ones."
Mandala like circular designs appeared in more than one of the creations. Of course the circle is an important symbol in a celebration of the ongoing circle of life, from generation to generation.
For info on my retreat, Mandalas in Mexico, January 16 - 24, 2010: visit www.creatingmandalas.com