Make Your Own Shrine for the Dead

Everyone is encouraged to make a personal shrine. A parent, grandparent, sibling, partner, friend, ancestor or mentor, you choose who to make a shrine for. Shrines can be big or small. The simplest shrine can be a candle in a jar. Add a flower and a photo or message. Larger shrines can be made out of cardboard from a box. Add photo, poetry, flowers and other mementos.


Shrine making workshop guide.

Shrines (or alters) are easy and rewarding to make. They can be made for anyone or anything. Typically shrines are made for dead relatives, friends or loved ones but they can include ancestors, groups of people, celebrities, animals, pets or people and things that we miss. Anyone can make a shrine with or without help from an artist. Professional artists help make community or group shrines and offer guidance to make personal shrines at all festival shrine workshops. People can also choose to make shrines on their own and bring them to the Festival of Hallows celebration on Oct 31st at Emery Barnes Park at Seymour and Davie Street Vancouver.

The Festival of Hallows holds a number of formal shrine making workshops. These workshops are usually geared toward community or group shrines though people can make their own shrine as well. Community shrines can be on any theme such as youth, victims of a particular illness or tragedy or just a grouping of individual memorials on the same shrine.

Shrines tend to take the shape of a 3 dimensional collage. Boxes, panels, plinths and platforms are decorated with items such as photos of the dead, mementos, personal items, flowers, candles, art, food, magazine photos or articles. There is no limit to the items or art that can be placed on the shrine. That said, there are some traditional ways to make shrines that you can choose to follow as well.

It is best to put a little thought and preparation into the shrine before attending workshops. The following are a few things to think about or bring to the workshops

Poems: your poem or a poem that reminds you of the deceased somehow

Writings: Personal writing about or by the deceased.

Names: can be hand written, painted or typed

Photos: Photos of the deceased (make photocopies as the original items may not get returned to you).

Mementos: Any small meaningful item (nothing of monetary value). These items can be almost anything of meaning that represents the deceased such as a favorite pen, a broach, teddy bear, toys, piece of art, a book, old glasses, old ID, or almost any personal item.

Food: It is best to add foods that will not perish too quickly such as gourds, hard vegetables like turnips, yam or potatoes, dried beans and grains, candies and other non-perishables. Fresh items can be added but usually just on the day of the exhibit.

Flower; potted flowers can be added to the shrines and fresh cut flowers are added on the day of exhibition

Candles: Tea lights, tapered candles or candles inside jars can be placed on the shrines. The candles will be lit by installation artists during the Hallow celebration on Oct 31.

Here are a few images to help generate ideas or look on line for more images:


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