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End of the world? Maya and revelers ready for a new day (photos)
Thursday, December 20th, 2012

YUCATAN, Mexico — GlobalPost visits Chichen Itza, in the heartland of the old Maya world in southeastern Mexico, where indigenous people and foreign New Age party-goers Mexican indigenous people and foreign New Age party-goers were converging — not to ring in the end, but to welcome what Maya priests believe will be a new era.

More from GlobalPost: Modern-day Mayans go about their day as usual

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Mexican souvenir sellers haul their goods onto the grounds of Chichen Itza, a Maya archaeological site on the Yucatan peninsula and a major draw for Dec. 21 revelers.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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The famous El Castillo pyramid was dedicated to the Maya god Kukulkan. It towers over Chichen Itza, a sacred ground for the ancient Maya in what's today southeastern Mexico.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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The Temple of the Warriors, Chichen Itza.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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The famous El Castillo pyramid is among the many archaeological gems that in 2007 helped make Chichen Itza one of the "new seven wonders."

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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A Mexican army patrol walks through the grounds of Chichen Itza.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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A tourist photographs the serpent's head at the base of the El Castillo pyramid. The temple itself is said to be physical calendar aligned with the sun.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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T-shirts with "2012 Year of Maya" are among the souvenirs for sale on the grounds at Chichen Itza.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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A spiritual celebration of what Maya predict will bring a "new era" at Chichen Itza has brought together New Age types of all stripes for a celebration. Participants gathered at the Pyramid Inn in the town of Piste, near the famous Maya site.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Michael Jaidev plays his ukulele, one of many revelers drawn to Latin America's Maya world for Dec. 21 festivities. He will partake in a festival called "Synthesis 2012."

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Michelle Casares puts a flower in her hair.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Spiritual leader, Raja Merk Dove, of Asheville, North Carolina talks to revelers.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Various Mexican indigenous groups, including Mayas and Otomis, gather the day before the alleged "End of the World" festivities at Chichen Itza for a prayer service at the base of the El Castillo pyramid. Contrary to what pop culture has been promoting, Mayan scholars and priests say Dec. 21, 2012 will involve a galactic realignment and the transition to a new 394-year period known as a 'baktun'.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Mexican indigenous groups lug traditional instruments to Chichen Itza, a sacred ground of their ancestors.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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An indigenous Mexican holds up a conch, which the classic Maya were believed to use for all sorts of things, including music, painting and battle.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Contrary to what pop culture has been promoting, Mayan scholars and priests say the world is not coming to an end on December 21, 2012, but rather the date involves a galactic realignment and the transition to a new 394 year period known as a 'baktun'. Chichen Itza, the most important Mayan religious center, and the monumental pyramid 'El Castillo'' dedicated to the god, Kulkulkan, will be the focus of numerous festivities surrounding the beginning of the new calendar. Various Mexican indigenous groups, including Mayas and Otomis, gather one day before the 'End of the World' festivities at Chichen Itza for a prayer service at the base of the 'El Castillo' pyramid.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Mexican indigenous groups, including Mayas and Otomis, gather before the alleged "End of the World" festivities at Chichen Itza for a ritual at the base of the El Castillo pyramid. Contrary to what pop culture has been promoting, Mayan scholars and priests say the world is not coming to an end on Dec. 21, 2012, but rather the date involves a galactic realignment and the transition to a new 394-year period known as a "baktun." Chichen Itza, the most important Mayan religious center, and the monumental pyramid El Castillo' dedicated to the god, Kukulkan, will be the focus of numerous festivities surrounding the beginning of the new calendar.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Contrary to what pop culture has been promoting, Mayan scholars and priests say the world is not coming to an end on December 21, 2012, but rather the date involves a galactic realignment and the transition to a new 394 year period known as a 'baktun'. Chichen Itza, the most important Mayan religious center, and the monumental pyramid 'El Castillo'' dedicated to the god, Kulkulkan, will be the focus of numerous festivities surrounding the beginning of the new calendar. Various Mexican indigenous groups, including Mayas and Otomis, gather one day before the 'End of the World' festivities at Chichen Itza for a prayer service at the base of the 'El Castillo' pyramid.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Indigenous groups participate in spiritual rituals at Chichen Itza.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Contrary to what pop culture has been promoting, Mayan scholars and priests say the world is not coming to an end on December 21, 2012, but rather the date involves a galactic realignment and the transition to a new 394 year period known as a 'baktun'. Chichen Itza, the most important Mayan religious center, and the monumental pyramid 'El Castillo'' dedicated to the god, Kulkulkan, will be the focus of numerous festivities surrounding the beginning of the new calendar. Various Mexican indigenous groups, including Mayas and Otomis, gather one day before the 'End of the World' festivities at Chichen Itza for a prayer service at the base of the 'El Castillo' pyramid.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Contrary to what pop culture has been promoting, Mayan scholars and priests say the world is not coming to an end on December 21, 2012, but rather the date involves a galactic realignment and the transition to a new 394 year period known as a 'baktun'. Chichen Itza, the most important Mayan religious center, and the monumental pyramid 'El Castillo'' dedicated to the god, Kulkulkan, will be the focus of numerous festivities surrounding the beginning of the new calendar. Various Mexican indigenous groups, including Mayas and Otomis, gather one day before the 'End of the World' festivities at Chichen Itza for a prayer service at the base of the 'El Castillo' pyramid.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Contrary to what pop culture has been promoting, Mayan scholars and priests say the world is not coming to an end on December 21, 2012, but rather the date involves a galactic realignment and the transition to a new 394 year period known as a 'baktun'. Chichen Itza, the most important Mayan religious center, and the monumental pyramid 'El Castillo'' dedicated to the god, Kulkulkan, will be the focus of numerous festivities surrounding the beginning of the new calendar. Various Mexican indigenous groups, including Mayas and Otomis, gather one day before the 'End of the World' festivities at Chichen Itza for a prayer service at the base of the 'El Castillo' pyramid.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Contrary to what pop culture has been promoting, Mayan scholars and priests say the world is not coming to an end on December 21, 2012, but rather the date involves a galactic realignment and the transition to a new 394 year period known as a 'baktun'. Chichen Itza, the most important Mayan religious center, and the monumental pyramid 'El Castillo'' dedicated to the god, Kulkulkan, will be the focus of numerous festivities surrounding the beginning of the new calendar. Various Mexican indigenous groups, including Mayas and Otomis, gather one day before the 'End of the World' festivities at Chichen Itza for a prayer service at the base of the 'El Castillo' pyramid.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Contrary to what pop culture has been promoting, Mayan scholars and priests say the world is not coming to an end on December 21, 2012, but rather the date involves a galactic realignment and the transition to a new 394 year period known as a 'baktun'. Chichen Itza, the most important Mayan religious center, and the monumental pyramid 'El Castillo'' dedicated to the god, Kulkulkan, will be the focus of numerous festivities surrounding the beginning of the new calendar. Various Mexican indigenous groups, including Mayas and Otomis, gather one day before the 'End of the World' festivities at Chichen Itza for a prayer service at the base of the 'El Castillo' pyramid.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Contrary to what pop culture has been promoting, Mayan scholars and priests say the world is not coming to an end on December 21, 2012, but rather the date involves a galactic realignment and the transition to a new 394 year period known as a 'baktun'. Chichen Itza, the most important Mayan religious center, and the monumental pyramid 'El Castillo'' dedicated to the god, Kulkulkan, will be the focus of numerous festivities surrounding the beginning of the new calendar. Various Mexican indigenous groups, including Mayas and Otomis, gather one day before the 'End of the World' festivities at Chichen Itza for a prayer service at the base of the 'El Castillo' pyramid.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Contrary to what pop culture has been promoting, Mayan scholars and priests say the world is not coming to an end on December 21, 2012, but rather the date involves a galactic realignment and the transition to a new 394 year period known as a 'baktun'. Chichen Itza, the most important Mayan religious center, and the monumental pyramid 'El Castillo'' dedicated to the god, Kulkulkan, will be the focus of numerous festivities surrounding the beginning of the new calendar. Various Mexican indigenous groups, including Mayas and Otomis, gather one day before the 'End of the World' festivities at Chichen Itza for a prayer service at the base of the 'El Castillo' pyramid.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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Tourists gather in front of the Temple of the Warriors on the grounds of Chichen Itza.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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A vendor sells a Mayan souvenir in front of the El Castillo pyramid.

(Keith Dannemiller - GlobalPost)
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It's a lovely thing when shared traditions unite so many different people.
Organizers will now submit their claim for a new record to Guinness World Records, which is expected to rule on it within two months.