As part of the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations, hundreds of inhabitants of this border city gathered over the weekend at a local market to pay posthumous tribute to their deceased loved ones.

Musicians, artisans, chefs and other ambassadors of Mexican culture lent their talents to this 13th edition of the occasion here, bringing a touch of color to this dark day of commemorating the dead.

Close to 50 altars were set up throughout the Mercado Mayapan to display photos of the dead and some of their personal effects.

"For Mexicans death is a fiesta, a remembrance of those who have been part of our lives, which is why we pay them tribute on this day," Cao Romero from the Mexican state of Veracruz told Efe.

Cao Romero and his folkloric musical group, Los Utrera, entertained the crowd and said that every year he and his pals from Veracruz come to El Paso to take part in this special day.

To celebrate this Day of the Dead, hundreds of people flocked to the market bringing photos of friends and family who have passed away, as well as favorite dishes of their dearly departed so their spirits might enjoy their favorite eats at least one more time.

"I brought the photo of my nephew who was killed recently in Ciudad Juarez, and I also placed on his altar some of the things he enjoyed most, like beer, cigarettes and his favorite food. I know he'll come tonight and be really happy with his presents," Teresa Loya said.

Loya, who lives just across the Rio Grande from here in Juarez, Mexico's murder capital, said that homage is also being paid here to the many killed in the Mexican drug war, and that the only reason for doing it on United States territory is because it feels safer this side of the border.

Some of the altars were dedicated to famous people like Benito Juarez, Pancho Villa and the Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti, on whose table were some of his books and a speaker over which the poet's own voice could be heard reciting some of his best-known verses.

Julio Molinet, another who was present, told Efe he was sure that exactly the same activities were being celebrated at the same time in Juarez, though because of the fear and chaos of that city, many have decided to come over to the American side and commemorate the holiday without the anxiety.

"The Day of the Dead altars are repositories of our traditions, the customs we're proud of and want to hand down to future generations," Socorro Maser said proudly at the altar of her late husband that she was visiting with some friends.