Eid Mubarak Ciid Mubaarik
EID MUBARAK:Dawn breaks on millions of Muslims as the annual Hajj pilgrimage draws to a close and Eid festival begins
In scenes that haven’t changed for more than a thousand years, nearly three million Muslims began congregating for the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia today.
At dawn, they started to making their way up the rocky desert path to Mountain of Mercy at Arafat, chanting that they have come to answer God’s call.
The white-robed pilgrims formed an endless sea of white as their chants ‘Labyek Allah’ or ‘Here I am, God, answering your calling’ reverberated overhead.
Charities and vendors along the way handed out food packages and umbrellas to shield the climbers from the harsh sun.
One of the pilgrims, Wassim Ahmad, from Mumbai, India, said this was his first hajj and that he felt like a child, reborn.
Today is like judgment day,’ said the 29-year-old. ‘We have come to pray to God … a new child has been born.’
Alone and obviously on her first hajj, 46-year-old Egyptian, Um Sayed, kept asking people for directions.
‘There is nothing greater than feeling that you are going to meet God,’ she said. ‘The whole body shivers.’
Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa are the three stops on the pilgrims’ journey during the hajj, as worshippers trace the steps of Prophet Muhammad.
The hajj draws millions of worshippers each year, the sheer numbers a challenge in preventing stampedes at holy sites, fires in pilgrim encampments and the spread of disease.
This year Saudi authorities have taken new measures to improve crowd management, including launching a new light-rail system to transport pilgrims between the shrines.
Also new, is the 485m high Mecca clocktower rising above the Mecca which is visible from up to 25 miles away.