Guatemala's Indians conducted spiritual ceremonies at assorted sacred centers around the country to celebrate the start of the Maya New Year 1528, or Oxlajuj No'j.

The main celebration, in which President Otto Perez Molina participated, was held Wednesday at the Iximche archaeological and ceremonial center, located 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of the capital.

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During the ceremony, the president emphasized that Guatemala's main source of wealth is the country's multicultural character, "the cradle of the Maya culture" which left a legacy "of sciences and exactitude" to humanity.

Perez, who was accompanied at the event by Vice President Roxana Baldetti, as well as by diplomats and representatives from the international community, announced that on the 21st day of each month up until Dec. 21 - when the "Fifth Sun," or current long-term or "Long Count" epoch of the Maya calendar, ends - similar activities will be held at various indigenous ceremonial centers.

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According to Maya astronomical tradition, the ending of the current long-term epoch established in the Maya solar calendar will usher in a new era for humanity.

Scientific evidence found on Maya stela inscriptions, sphinxes and codexes indicates that the Fifth Sun began on Aug. 13, 3114 B.C. and will conclude on Dec. 21, 2012, with the celebration of 13 B'aktun.

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