The Day the World Did Not End: A Look Back at the Bak'tun
A year ago today, doomsayers were pinching themselves, astounded that they, and the world, were still very much alive. The world had not, as they expected, ended.
December 21, 2012, brought not an end, but a beginning, as numerous indigenous sources trying to combat the misappropriation and misinterpretation of the Maya calendar had tried to convey beforehand.
As the flummoxed doomsayers cast about wondering what to make of their lives, those who knew all along that the world would go on were celebrating with great ceremony. In Bolivia, indigenous President Evo Morales gave a speech leading up to the day. It was indeed the end of some things, he said, but the beginning of much, much more.
“According to the Mayan calendar the 21 of December is the end of the non-time and the beginning of time,” Morales said. “It is the end of the Macha and the beginning of the Pacha, the end of selfishness and the beginning of brotherhood, it is the end of individualism and the beginning of collectivism.”
In Guatemala, one of the centers of modern Maya life, ceremonies abounded. In Tikal, an ancient Maya stronghold, priests welcomed the sun’s first rays as they gathered in a circle before the Temple of the Jaguar in the main plaza and lit a ceremonial fire, candles and torches. They gave thanks to the creator and marked the beginning of the new cycle.
Here, we offer a sample of the Mayan Bak’tun ceremony from December 21, 2012.
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