NEW YORK (TIP): If the world is ending Friday, as many earthlings say the ancient Mayans predicted, there were no signs of panic, prophesying or much else out of the ordinary on Thursday on the streets of New York’s most densely Mayan neighborhood, Bath Beach in Brooklyn. “Everything is normal,” Balbino Antono Say Garcia reported from behind the counter of Tienda Guatemalteca La Chapincita on Bath Avenue, where the Mayan tongue of K’iche mingles with Spanish and Russian.
“No one is talking about the end of the world here, not at all.” Ronaldo Camacho of neighboring Bensonhurst, a representative of a Guatemalan immigrant-rights group, Migua, said that for Mayans in Guatemala, Friday is a day to celebrate, not mourn, as the winter solstice brings a 394-year cycle in the Mayan calendar known as a b’ak’tun to completion. “An era is coming to an end, but that isn’t to say it is the end,” Mr Camacho, 36, said. According to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, the current world, in which humans have flourished, began 13 b’ak’tuns, or 5,125 years, ago, following three failed worlds, the last of which also lasted 13 b’ak’tuns.
And some doomsayers have equated the end of this fourth world with the end of civilization. But the consensus among modern Mayanist scholars is that the end of this 13- b’ak’tun period heralds only the beginning of the next. The doomsday predictions, Mr. Camacho said, are “a disrespect to the Mayan culture and the indigenous people of Mayan descent.” Mayans are readily found in Bath Beach and Bensonhurst, the center of Brooklyn’s small but fast-growing Guatemalan population, which has more than doubled, to about 9,000 from about 4,000, since 2000, according to the 2010 census.
A large number of the neighborhood’s Guatemalans are from the heavily Mayan Totonicapan province in the western highlands.