I woke up well past 6:12am this morning and the world had not come to an end as the Mayans had supposedly predicted centuries ago but it did remind me of my trip to Tikal because on that day, I witnessed an unforgettable event.
When we entered in the Grand Plaza at Tikal, we saw a group of Mayans gathering around a shallow concrete pit located in the center of the plaza. Neither my travel mates nor I had any clue what was going on. As we all walked about the Plaza to take a look at the famed Temple of the Jaguar (Temple I) and Temple of the Mask (Temple II), we all kept one eye on the happenings around the pit. Something was about to take place and we were all curious to see what it was.
We stood nearby to watch as one of the men started a fire in the pit. Within a matter of minutes, a thick plume of black smoke was billowing high up in the air.
At least twenty or so Mayans had encircled the pit, all kneeling down on the ground and clasping slender, taper shaped candles between their hands which were raised towards the sky. One of the men led the group in prayer.
What we had witnessed was a Mayan fire ceremony and they are conducted for various reasons. On our day, perhaps they were asking the gods for a good harvest season as it was early spring when were in Tikal.
Tikal is one of the few ancient Mayan sites where rituals can still be held. We had just stumbled upon the ceremony but apparently, there are special tours that focus on Mayan fire ceremonies.