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Ceremonies mark a new era of Mayan calendar

With the end of the world ... yes... averted, celebrations in Guatemala to welcome a new era in the Mayan calendar. At dawn, crowds gathered at Tikal - one of the largest pre-Columbian Maya sites in Central America - for rituals sending out the old - and bringing in the new. Tata Chus is a tribal religious leader known as a shaman. SOUNDBITE: Guatemalan Shaman, Tata Chus (Spanish) "What is happening now is very beautiful because new portals are being opened and we are witnesses for what is happening at this moment." Mayan beliefs had said an era in the Maya Long Count calendar closed at sunrise on Friday - and brought in the start of a new, more spiritual age. Thousands of tourists traveled to Mayan sites across Mexico and Central America to witness the ceremonies. SOUNDBITE: Jessica, U.S. Tourist from North Carolina "We were just excited to come. We thought it would be a neat time to come. We didn't think that there was going to be an end-of-the-world scare." The Maya civilization reached its peak between A.D. 250 and 900 when it ruled over large areas of what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras.

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