CHICHEN ITZA, Mexico - Ending decades of predictions about fears, hopes, and beliefs of the world end, the sun rose on Friday, December 21, to shatter myths about the end of the world according to Mayan civilization.
"It's not the end of the world," Mary Lou Anderson, 53, an information technology consultant from Las Vegas, told Reuters.
It's an awakening of consciousness and good and love and spirituality - and it's been happening for a while.
Rushing to Mexico, thousands of mystics, hippies and tourists 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.
The end of the bak'tun in the 5,125-year-old Long Calendar of the Maya had raised scattered fears around the world that the end is nigh or that lesser catastrophe lay in store.
Fears of mass suicides, huge power cuts, natural disasters, epidemics or an asteroid hurtling toward Earth have circulated on the Internet ahead.
The case was not the same for many tourists.
"I'm just grateful to be here at all," Graham Hohlfelde, 21, a student from St. Louis, Missouri, told Reuters.
"I hope something happens to make me a better person. If I can get a little cosmic help I won't turn it down."
Texts inscribed on stone tablets by the Maya civilization say that the doomsday will occur on December 21, 2012.
The myth is based on the Mayan calendar which marks the end of a 5,126 year old cycle around December 12, 2012.
A chorus of books and movies has sought to link the Mayan calendar to rumors of impending disasters ranging from rogue black holes and solar storms to the idea that the Earth's magnetic field could 'flip' on that date.
The disaster movie 2012, released last year, is based on the myth that the world will end with the Mayan calendar in 2012.
It sees a series of geological and astrological disasters plunging the world into chaos.
No World End
Maya experts, scientists and US space agency NASA had insisted the Maya had not predicted the world's end.
"Think of it like Y2K," said James Fitzsimmons, a Maya expert at Middlebury College in Vermont, referring to the year 2000.
"It's the end of one cycle and the beginning of another cycle."
Experts cite a US scholar who 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.
There is a long tradition of calling time on the world.
Basing his calculations on prophetic readings of the Bible, the great scientist Isaac Newton once cited 2060 as a year when the planet would be destroyed.
US preacher William Miller predicted that Jesus Christ would descend to Earth in October 1844 to purge mankind of its sins. When it did not happen, his followers, known as the Millerites, refereed to the event as The Great Disappointment.
In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult, believing the world was about to be "recycled," committed suicide in San Diego to board an alien craft they said was trailing behind a comet.
More recently, American radio host Harold Camping predicted the world would end on May 21, 2011, later moving the date forward five months when the apocalypse failed to materialize.
Such thoughts were far from the minds on Friday of gaudily attired pilgrims to Chichen Itza seeking spiritual release.