Pilgrims ascend Mount Arafat in excessive level of pandemic-era hajj

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MECCA: Muslim pilgrims ascended Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat on Monday, July 19, 2021, within the excessive level of this yr’s hajj, being held in downsized kind and beneath coronavirus restrictions for the second yr operating.

Simply 60,000 folks, all residents or residents of Saudi Arabia, have been chosen to participate on this yr’s hajj, with international pilgrims once more barred.

The mask-clad devoted, who had spent the night time in camps within the Valley of Mina, converged on Mount Arafat the place it’s believed the Prophet Mohammed delivered his last sermon, for a very powerful of the hajj rituals.

Worshippers will assemble on the 70-metre (230-foot) excessive hill and its surrounding plain for hours of prayers and Koran recitals to atone for his or her sins, staying there till the night.

After sundown they head to Muzdalifah, midway between Arafat and Mina, the place they may sleep beneath the celebrities earlier than performing the symbolic “stoning of the satan”.

The scene was dramatically totally different to previous pilgrimages, which have drawn as much as 2.5 million folks, and this yr the mountain was freed from the massive crowds that descend on it in regular years.

Authorities are in search of to repeat final yr’s profitable occasion which befell on the smallest scale in trendy historical past with simply 10,000 members, however which noticed no virus outbreak.

Saudi well being authorities mentioned Sunday that not a single Covid case had been reported amongst the pilgrims this yr.

The dominion has to date recorded greater than 509,000 coronavirus infections, together with over 8,000 deaths. Some 20 million vaccine doses have been administered within the nation of over 34 million folks. 

The hajj, which usually packs giant crowds into congested spiritual websites, might have been a super-spreader occasion for the virus.

However Saudi Arabia has mentioned it’s deploying  the “highest ranges of well being precautions” in mild of the pandemic and the emergence of recent variants.

Pilgrims are being divided into teams of simply 20 to limit potential publicity, and a “good hajj card” has been launched to permit contact-free entry to camps, motels and the buses to ferry pilgrims round spiritual websites.

Black-and-white robots have been deployed to dispense bottles of sacred water from the Zamzam spring in Mecca’s Grand Mosque, constructed across the Kaaba, the black cubic construction in direction of which Muslims all over the world pray.

Ibrahim Siam, a 64-year-old Egyptian pilgrim who comes from Dammam within the east of the nation, mentioned that high-tech procedures launched to handle the hajj “have made issues quite a bit simpler.” 

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