World's end passes without incident


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 about 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.

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.

Fears of mass suicides, huge power cuts, natural disasters, epidemics or an asteroid hurtling toward Earth have circulated on the internet ahead of December 21st.

A US 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.

A few minutes before the north pole reached its position furthest from the sun yesterday, a spotlight illuminated the western flank of the Temple of the serpent god Kukulkan, a 100-foot pyramid at the heart of Chichen Itza. Then a group of five English-speaking tourists dressed in white faced the pyramid with their arms raised. As the sun climbed into the sky, a man with dreadlocks played a didgeridoo at the north end of the pyramid while a group of tourists meditated on brightly coloured mats.

In Turkey, thousands of tourists flocked to Sirince, a picturesque village east of the Aegean Sea that believers in a potential cataclysm had said would be spared.

In Bugarach, France, a village that was said to be harbouring an alien spacecraft in a nearby mountain that would enable people to survive an apocalypse, authorities cordoned off the area, fearing an influx of doomsday believers. But on Friday, journalists and party-goers outnumbered the survivalists. – (Reuters)