Muslim pilgrims gather for largest Hajj in Saudi Arabia since pandemic

Riyadh, Jul 7 (EFE).- One million Muslim pilgrims from inside and outside Saudi Arabia started their Hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, an annual event that this year has significantly grown after limiting it to domestic pilgrims for the past two years due to Covid-19 pandemic measures.

Dressed in white seamless cloths, worshippers first amassed in the holy city of Mecca to walk seven times in a counter-clockwise direction around the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building located in the center of the Grand Mosque.

They then headed to Mina Valley on the outskirts of Mecca to run back and forth between two historical hills, pray and meditate before beginning their journey to Mount Arafat, some 20 kilometers to the east of Mecca, on Friday, the second and main day of the Hajj.

Although Saudi Arabia has increased the number of people allowed to take part in this year’s event to one million, including 850,000 from abroad, it pales in comparison to pre-pandemic times when 2.5 million Muslims would flock annually for Hajj, Islam’s largest congregation.

People under 65 years old who have received anti-coronavirus vaccines are permitted to perform the rites this year.

Last year, the Hajj was curtailed to around 60,000 fully vaccinated Saudis and Muslim residents to curb the spread of the coronavirus.EFE


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