Thousands throng Mexican ruins for vernal equinox


11:19 a.m. March 20, 2006

Associated Press
A dancer in Aztec clothing performs the dance of the four winds around the Sun Pyramid at the Teotihuacan archeological site on Monday. The pilgrims believe the pyramids hold a special energy on the equinox that can be transmitted to people.
TEOTIHUACAN, Mexico – Thousands of pilgrims arrived here in a pre-dawn haze Monday to climb Mexico's towering Pyramid of the Sun and pay homage to the first day of spring.

The vernal equinox, the halfway point between winter and summer, arrived shortly after noon to the pyramids of Teotihuacan, a sprawling pre-Hispanic ghost town 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Mexico City.

Mexicans from across the country make an annual pilgrimage to the ruins, climbing the tallest structure, the Pyramid of the Sun, and throwing their arms skyward. Others stream to the Moon Pyramid, which is not as high, but is older.

The thousands of visitors who arrive here believe the pyramids hold a special energy on the equinox that can be transmitted to human beings, especially those who dress in white.

Even larger crowds are expected at Teotihuacan on Tuesday, the first full day of spring, which this year falls on a national holiday commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of revolutionary hero Benito Juarez.

Authorities are expecting so many revelers that they will charge 45 pesos (US$4, euro3.30) for entry into the ruins, which are normally free on holidays. More than 1,500 federal agents will be assigned to the area to keep order.

The equinox also is an important event at Chichen Itza, the most famous of Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula. There, thousands turn out to watch a serpent-shaped shadow slither down the Temple of Kukulkan at daybreak.

Teotihuacan emerged about two centuries before the birth of Christ and included as many as 200,000 people at its peak. But the city began declining sharply around 650 A.D., and was almost completely abandoned around 750 A.D., for unknown reasons.

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