Hajj Begins, Millions Of Muslim Pilgrims Flock In Mecca

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Muslim pilgrims pray at the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia,
Muslim pilgrims pray at the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia(Representative Photo)

As the annual Islamic hajj pilgrimage begins today, Saudi Arabia, underscoring both the massive arrangements needed to secure one of the largest pilgrimages in the world and the multitude of threats the hajj faces, has deployed 100,000 security personnel to oversee it.

“We always concentrate on hajj considering that a threat might exist,” Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said. “We’ve been targeted by terrorism for years now and we know that we are a target for terrorist groups.”

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims from around the world, including over 1.5 lakh Indians, proceeded to the valley of Mina to mark the beginning of Hajj which begins today and will culminate with the symbolic stoning of Satan on Friday.

The Islamic calender turns Dhul Hijjah 8 after yesterday’s sunset. Believers have started their journey towards Mina nearly five kilometres from Mecca for the world’s largest annual gathering. Many of the pilgrims started the journey to Mina late last night itself to avoid the heavy rush of pilgrims after the ‘Fajr’ or pre-dawn prayers.

The five-day long pilgrimage will culminate with the symbolic stoning of Satan on Saturday. Saudi authorities have made elaborate arrangements for the pilgrims in Mina, where thousands of tents have been set up to host the ‘guests of Allah’.

The pilgrims, in the first phase, will spend the night in the tent-city of Mina reciting the Holy Quran or praying. King Salman bin Abdulaziz, who is also Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, has directed agencies concerned to provide all services and facilities so that pilgrims perform their rituals with ease and comfort.

According to reports, nearly 1.5 million pilgrims had arrived from various countries till Sunday and many more are expected to join them from neighbouring countries today and later, they will be joined by the Saudi nationals also in the day. Among the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, there are about 1.5 lakh Indians, who have converged in the Kingdom for the five-day Hajj.

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