CHICHEN ITZA, Mexico, (Reuters) – Dawn broke over ancient holy sites in southern Mexico to celebrations yesterday, ushering in the start of a new era for the Maya people that had been billed as a possible end of the world.
A mix of mystics, hippies and tourists from around the world descended on the ruins of Maya cities to mark the close of the 13th bak’tun – a period of around 400 years – and many hoped it would lead to a better era for humanity.
After the sun went up in Mexico and the world continued to spin, visitors to the Maya heartland gave thanks.
“I’m just grateful to be here at all,” said Graham Hohlfelde, 21, a student from St. Louis, Missouri. “I hope something happens to make me a better person. If I can get a little cosmic help I won’t turn it down.”
The end of the bak’tun in the 5,125-year-old Long Calendar of the Maya had raised scattered fears around the globe that the end is nigh or that lesser catastrophe lay in store.
However, to the people congregating in the imposing ruins of the city of Chichen Itza, a focal point for the celebrations in Mexico, it was quite the opposite.
“It’s not the end of the world, it’s an awakening of consciousness and good and love and spirituality – and it’s been happening for a while,” said Mary Lou Anderson, 53, an information technology consultant from Las Vegas.
Fears of mass suicides, huge power cuts, natural disasters, epidemics or an asteroid hurtling toward Earth have circulated on the Internet ahead of Dec. 21.
A U.S. scholar said in the 1960s that the end of the 13th bak’tun could be seen as a kind of Armageddon for the Maya. Over time, the idea snowballed into a belief by some that the Maya calendar had predicted the earth’s destruction.