Saudi King Salman arrives in Mina as Muslims mark Eid and final days of Hajj
Saudi Arabia's King Salman arrived in Mina on Sunday to supervise the services provided during the Islamic pilgrimage of Hajj, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Around 2.5 million pilgrims took part in a symbolic stoning of the devil on Saturday, marking the final days of the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and the start of the Eid al-Adha celebrations for Muslims around the world.
This year, the King invited 200 survivors and relatives of victims of the mosque attacks in New Zealand’s Christchurch, where a gunman opened fire and killed 51 people in March.
To mark the completion of Hajj, male pilgrims shave their hair and women trim theirs to represent a spiritual renewal and rebirth. Male pilgrims will also remove the white terrycloth garments worn on the Hajj and return to their usual attire.
The five-day Hajj pilgrimage is required of all Muslims once in their lifetime, if they are financially and physically able to make the journey.
Muslims around the world commemorate the end of Hajj with Eid celebrations, including distributing meat to the poor.
“I came from Sudan to Mecca where I performed the pilgrimage,” Mohammed Saleh said as he performed the final rites of Hajj in Mina. “We hope all pilgrims will be successful in their Hajj.”
Nearly 2.5 million Hajj pilgrims from around the world stayed overnight in Muzdalifah after gathering at Mount Arafat on Saturday where they stood in prayer from noon to sunset in one of the most important days of the Islamic calendar.
Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. The Kingdom provides pilgrims with health care and buses for transportation, as well as meals, snacks and water along the routes of Hajj.
Mina is a sprawling valley near Mecca where thousands of air-conditioned tents are erected to house pilgrims for the final leg of the Hajj.
In Mina, pilgrims walk long distances on pedestrian-only streets toward a multi-story complex housing large pillars. There, they cast seven pebbles each at three pillars in a ritual meant to symbolize the casting away of evil and sin.
Muslims believe the Hajj offers the chance of atonement and an opportunity to erase past sins. The first two days of the Hajj are spent in Mecca and other areas around it in deep prayer, contemplation and worship.
(With The Associated Press)