Hajj 2016 : Millions of Muslims arrive in Makkah ahead of Hajj
MAKKAH : Millions of Muslims from around the world have started arriving in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, a central pillar of the Islamic faith that re-enacts the actions of the Prophet Muhammad from more than 1,400 years ago.
Worshippers from more than 170 countries began gathering on Friday in the Holy city, one of the holiest sites in Islam, to prepare for the five-day pilgrimage which starts on Saturday, September 10.
As temperatures exceeded 40 degree Celsius, pilgrims crowded into Makkah’s sprawling, air-conditioned Grand Mosque complex to walk around the Kaaba. Pilgrims who cannot walk are pushed around the mosque in wheelchairs by workers.
Regularly spaced taps provide thirsty pilgrims with spring water and visitors can eat under large fast food signs at a commercial centre inside the complex, where they are also able to shop.
But as soon as loudspeakers sound the call to prayer, the shops are shuttered and the faithful line up to worship.
Outside at all the Grand Mosque’s entrances, Saudi police control the movement of pilgrims between green plastic barriers. At prayer time, access to the Kaaba is suspended and the walk around it is stopped to avoid overcrowding.
It is one of several safety measures authorities say they have implemented after, according to data from foreign officials, close to 2,300 pilgrims died during the Hajj stoning ritual last year.
Source : Online