REMEMBERING THE dearly departed is normal, but what may seem strange or even macabre is that Mexico and other Latin American territories set aside a special time to do so.
The celebration is called 'Dia de los Muertos', literally translated Day of the Dead. The 'day' is actually a two-day festival, though some cultures make it three. It is an established tradition and is carried out each year globally by Mexicans in honour of loved ones who have passed away.
Mexican Ambassador Gerardo Lozano said despite the name, the celebration was really about life.
"On November 1 and 2, the spirits 'come home' and the living give them welcome," he said, explaining that families and friends prepare the favourite meals and drinks of the deceased - even tequila. These items are placed at altars and shrines made for the occasion.
"They maintain the good moments because when people are still present in your mind, it's like they are still alive."
The first day of the celebration is for those who died young, while the second day is for the elder deceased.
Lozano explained that people even bring music and spend the night singing the favourite songs of the deceased.
"It may sound strange in other cultures, but in Mexico, people are sad when someone passes, but we try to be confident that there is another state where people go," he said.
He explained that the altar's shape - specifically the arch at its apex - signifies the gateway to "a better world".
Dia de los Muertos predates the arrival of the Spanish in Latin America, and mirrors the Catholic All Saints and All Souls days. But over the centuries, Mexicans have incorporated their own culture into celebrations.
The embassy had its own ceremonial altar adorned colourfully in the PCJ Auditorium on Thursday and Friday. Ambassador Lozano said some altars are built to recognise the passing of a popular individual. This one was in honour of Mexican architect Pedro Ramirez Vázquez, whose creations include the Azteca Stadium. Various smaller shrines with painted skulls, colourful skeletons and mementos also adorned the room, with traditional Mexican fare to sample.
To add to the celebration on Thursday, the Mexican embassy launched the book Tanatos, short stories of death, written by a former Mexican foreign service member, Ambassador Vicente Montemayor Cantu.