MAKKAH: A gigantic wave of pilgrims, numbering hundreds and thousands, began streaming into the tent city of Mina as the sun went down on Friday.
With prayers on their lips, beads clutched in their fingers, water bottles in their hands, e-bracelets on their wrists and bags on their backs, they began the first leg of the five-day sacred journey known as Haj.
All the pilgrims will be in Mina on Saturday (Dul Hijjah 8) where they will spend the night in their air-conditioned, fire-resistant tents. From there, they will begin the trek to the plains of Arafat at the crack of dawn on Sunday (Dul Hijjah 9).
On Friday, Makkah was teeming with millions of the faithful preparing for the Haj rituals. Nearly 1.5 million pilgrims offered noon prayers in and around the Grand Mosque.
The sun was blistering and the weather harsh. Daytime temperatures on Friday hovered between 40° and 45° Celsius.
The government, led by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, has made unprecedented arrangements for the smooth and safe flow of pilgrims from Makkah to Mina to Arafat and back.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki described the journey of pilgrims from Makkah to Mina as “the world’s largest mass movement of people.”.. see more