Predictably, there is an article on Stuff today about the end of the baktun. It describes all the celebrations held in spiritual places around the world, some historical armageddon fantasies, and gets quotes from “Maya experts” on how some white people are super dumb. Oh, and a single actual Maya, who apparently spent the day selling souvenirs outside the Mayan temples in Mexico.
“A few minutes before the north pole reached its position furthest from the sun on Friday, a spotlight illuminated the western flank of the Temple of the serpent god Kukulkan, a 30 metre tall pyramid at the heart of Chichen Itza.
Then a group of five English-speaking tourists dressed in white made their way across the plain, dropped their bags and 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. Nearby groups of tourists meditated on brightly coloured mats.”
The most appropriate word I can think of for this is “gross”. Why? Not just because of the standard appropriation, complete with distortion and inaccuracy (a didgeridoo?). But because I’m willing to bet most of these tourists aren’t even aware that the Mexican government banned Maya from performing rituals in their own temples to mark the beginning of the next baktun. For “health and safety” reasons. Because of the crowds. This isn’t exactly an every day ritual – a baktun lasts nearly four hundred years, so the ceremonies for a new one are kind of a big deal. But instead of performing them in the temples that their ancestors built, the Maya will be finding space wherever they can – porches, vacant lots, fields.
“Contrary to popular (mis)belief, the end of the long-count calendar is being viewed as something positive. As Mayan priest Jose Manrique Esquive recently pointed out, the current Baktun, which began around 1618, has been drenched by a continuous reign of misery that included the introduction of European disease, culture and language being erased and entire populations being extinguished.
‘This is the ending of an era for the Maya, an era which has been very intense for us, in which we have had suffering and pain,’ said Manrique Esquivel, adding ‘we are praying the wars, the conflicts, the hunger to end.’”
I guess basically what I’m saying is, things aren’t looking good for that, Manrique.