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Pilgrims Pour into Mina Camp from Mecca as the Hajj Begins

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Posted by on Monday, November 15, 2010, 10:44
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The world’s largest annual pilgrimage, the hajj, began on Sunday with more than two million Muslims pouring into the camp at Mina from Mecca to prepare for the solemn rituals.

Mina Camp from Mecca as the Hajj Begins
Mina Camp from Mecca as the Hajj Begins

For thousands of years, the believers from around the world have traveled to Makkah for Haj. The sight of nearly three million pilgrims in all white performing Haj rituals and endlessly circumambulating the majestic black structure is breathtaking.

For days the pilgrims go around the Kaaba, the first mosque and place of worship on the planet, pray at the Grand Mosque, camp in Mina before moving to the plains of Arafat in what is considered the most important ritual of the Haj — all the time praying, chanting and reciting the Qur’anic verses and supplicating before their Creator.

This spiritual and emotional journey concludes with the offering of the animal sacrifice that also marks the Eid Al Adha across the world.

Some estimates put the number of pilgrims this year at 2.5 million, posing a major headache for the Saudi authorities as many of them are not hajj permit holders.

Pilgrims were still flooding on Sunday night into the vast plain of Mina outside a small village about five kilometres (three miles) east of Mecca, using all possible means to begin their hajj journey.

Permits were granted to 1.7 million foreign pilgrims, but the head of the Hajj Supreme Committee, Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, on Sunday put the number of foreign pilgrims at a record 1.8 million.

A further 200,000 permits were issued to pilgrims from within Saudi Arabia and from neighbouring Gulf states.

An interior ministry official said definite numbers will not be announced until Tuesday, the first day of Eid Al-Adha or the Feast of the Sacrifice.

This year has seen a crackdown on those without the requisite papers as the authorities try to prevent numbers from getting out of hand.

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