Saudi Arabia stages second scaled-down hajj of coronavirus era – Times of India

MECCA: Hajj pilgrims streamed out of the holy metropolis of Mecca Sunday, launching the rituals of the good pilgrimage which Saudi Arabia is holding in a scaled-down type for a second 12 months to thrust back coronavirus.
Saudi Arabia is permitting solely 60,000 absolutely vaccinated residents and residents of the dominion to participate, removed from the huge crowds that descend on Mecca in regular occasions, when the ritual attracts some 2.5 million pilgrims.
Since Saturday, teams of pilgrims have been performing the “tawaf” at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, circling the Kaaba, a big cubic construction draped in golden-embroidered black material in direction of which Muslims all over the world pray.
After that, pilgrims have been making their strategy to the Valley of Mina, the place they’ll spend the evening.
“46,000 pilgrims have arrived in Mina,” Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Abdelfattah bin Suleiman Mashat advised AFP on Sunday morning.
“The number of women participating in the Hajj this year exceeds 40 percent,” he added.
Mina sits in a slim valley surrounded by rocky mountains, and is reworked every year into an enormous encampment for pilgrims.
“Public health teams are monitoring the health status of pilgrims around the clock upon their arrival in Mecca,” stated Sari Asiri, director of the hajj and umrah division on the well being ministry.
Anyone discovered to be contaminated can be taken to isolation services, he added.
In the excessive level of the hajj, worshippers will on Monday climb Mount Arafat.
Also referred to as the “Mount of Mercy”, it’s the website the place it’s believed that the Prophet Mohammed delivered his closing sermon.
Worshippers will undertake hours of prayers and Koranic recitals.
After descending the next day, they’ll collect pebbles and carry out the symbolic “stoning of the devil”.
The hajj, often one of the world’s largest annual non secular gatherings, is one of the 5 pillars of Islam and should be undertaken by all Muslims with the means at the least as soon as of their lives.
This 12 months’s pilgrimage is bigger than the pared-down model staged in 2020 however drastically smaller than in regular occasions, creating resentment amongst Muslims overseas who’re barred as soon as once more.
Participants had been chosen from greater than 558,000 candidates by means of a web based vetting system, with the occasion confined to completely vaccinated adults aged 18-65 with no continual sicknesses, in response to the hajj ministry.
“I thank God that we received approval to come, even though we did not expect it because of the small number of pilgrims,” stated Abdulaziz bin Mahmoud, an 18-12 months-previous Saudi.
Saddaf Ghafour, a 40-12 months-previous Pakistani lady travelling together with her pal, was among the many growing quantity of girls making the pilgrimage and not using a male “guardian”, which was a requirement till lately.
“It is a privilege to perform hajj among a very limited number of pilgrims,” she stated.
Saudi Arabia has up to now recorded greater than 507,000 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 massive crowds into congested non secular websites, is probably an excellent-spreader occasion for the virus.
But the hajj ministry has stated it’s engaged on the “highest levels of health precautions” in mild of the pandemic and the emergence of new variants.
Pilgrims are being divided into teams of simply 20 “to restrict any exposure to only those 20, limiting the spread of infection”, ministry undersecretary Mohammad al-Bijawi stated.
Aside from strict social distancing measures, authorities have launched a “smart hajj card” to permit contact-free entry to camps, resorts and the buses to ferry pilgrims round non secular websites.
The hajj went forward final 12 months on the smallest scale in fashionable historical past.
Authorities initially stated only one,000 pilgrims can be allowed, though native media stated as much as 10,000 ultimately took half.
No infections had been reported as authorities arrange a number of well being services, cell clinics and ambulances to cater for the pilgrims, who had been taken to the non secular websites in small batches.

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