GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (NBC) - Indigenous Mayans are marking the end of the Mayan calendar not by hiding in a "Doomsday" bunker, but with traditional rituals to welcome the beginning of the next calendar. The descendents live under the poverty line and hope that with the start of the new calendar comes new hope for prosperity among their people.
The United Nations estimates that more than half of Guatemala's indigenous youth do not complete school. Child mortality and malnutrition is also much higher among indigenous Mayans, compared to other Guatemalans.
In the ancient city of Tikal, Guatemala, Mayan priests and spiritual guides led ceremonies to mark the last day of the calendar. Many people believe the end of the Mayan calendar means the end of days for people on Earth, but the Mayans are critical of the Doomsday speculation, saying the theories have little to do with Mayan culture. The speculation has prompted a boom in tourism at Mayan sites in Guatemala, Mexico and Peru.