Haj pilgrimage kicks off in Saudi Arabia

Haj pilgrimage kicks off in Saudi Arabia

Haj pilgrimage kicks off in Saudi Arabia
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Orient Net
Date: 2017-08-30 17:28
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims began the annual haj pilgrimage on Wednesday (August 30), donning traditional white garments and heading to a tent camp outside the holy city of Mecca in an itinerary retracing the route Prophet Mohammad took 14 centuries ago.

Nearly 2 million worshippers, from nearly every country, arrived in Saudi Arabia this week for the five-day ritual, which is a once-in-a-lifetime religious duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. Some prayed at the Grand Mosque before heading to the Mina area or towards Mount Arafat, east of Mecca, where the Prophet is believed to have delivered his final sermon to followers.

They walked or took buses, with traffic police using loudspeakers to try to direct crowds speaking a medley of languages. They were dressed in simple white robes, marking a state of ihram, or ritual purity.

All the pilgrims will arrive by Thursday morning at Mount Arafat, about 15 km (10 miles) east of Mecca. The Eid al-Adha, or feast of the sacrifice, begins on Friday, when pilgrims begin three days of casting stones at walls in a symbolic renunciation of the devil.

The world’s largest annual gathering of Muslims has in the past seen deadly stampedes, fires and riots, with authorities struggling to respond.

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