In the run-up to the Dec 21, 2012 doomsday scenario caused by global concern over an end-of-the-world possibility based on Mayan calendar predictions, French authorities have prevented access to the Bugarach Mountain.
The temporary closure is for four days around the date. The place's mayor prohibited gatherings of any sort during that period and threatened to arrest anyone who lands in a light aircraft.
The mountain is believed by some to be a sacred place that would protect them from an apocalypse. Bugarach is a 4,040-foot mountain, also called the upside down mountain because the top layers of rock are older the lower layers due to uplift of the Pyrenees.
It is located on the Green Meridian and s such became a popular destination in the 1960s and 1970s with the hippie movement and New Age followers in the later part of the 20th century because of belief that it has mystical powers.
Some cult followers think aliens live inside the mountain and would spare humans who decide to leave Earth with them in the believed apocalypse. As a result, visitors doubled to more than 20,000 in 2011, prompting Miviludes, the cult watchdog in France, to place the village under its monitoring for possible mass suicides.
In 1995, mass suicides were committed in the Alps by members of the Order of the Solar Temple sect when their forecast Doomsday did not happen.
Even some Christian groups are not discounting the possibility of an apocalypse based on the last book of the New Testament, but some view what could happen on 12-21-12 is a pre-apocalypse event.
With just twelve days left to the so-called apocalypse, French police have started to investigate how some landowners are profiting from the scare caused by the Mayan prediction. The Australian reports that a landowner is leasing his four-bedroom house at Pic de Bugarach, located at the foot of the mystic mountain, for $1,870 a night. For people with smaller end-of-the-world budgets, they could instead set up a tent in the slopes of the mountain for 400 euro.
For the mid-class apocalypse believers, a bed-and-breakfast room is available for 500 euro on Dec 21, but its location is 19 kilometres away and outside the safety zone, based on the prophecy.
Also for sale are authentic Bugarach stones for 1.5 euro a gram and mineral water in a 500 millilitre bottle for 15 euro. A local winemaker is marketing an End of the World vintage and Survival Vintage.
The authorities in charge of the region lamented how business-minded people are exploiting the prediction for their own profitable ends. "I find it really outrageous to abuse the naivety of people and rush into commerce that defies common sense," The Telegraph quoted Eric Freysselinard, prefer of the Aude department which includes the Bugarach.
Outside France, there are reports that some Web sites in the U.S. are selling tickets to access the mountain on 21. For those who could not afford the exorbitant prices, they instead bought survival shelters, which registered a hike in sales.
Also best selling in China and Russia are candles and other basic commodities.
Mayan researchers have converged in Helsinki since the second week of November to study all aspects of research into Mayan culture in preparation for the conference slated to begin this week, but would end Dec 15. It is organised by the Department of World Cultures of Helsinki University and European Association of.Mayanists.