Over two million pilgrims, including more than 1.5 lakh Indians, today started moving from the tent-city of Mina to Mount Arafat and its surrounding ground for prayers, marking the climax of the annual Haj.
Pilgrims of all age groups clad in white seamless cloth began moving to Arafat, where Prophet Mohammad delivered the last Haj sermon nearly 1400 years ago, early this morning from Mina where they spent the night in prayer and supplication.
During Haj, men pilgrims wear a seamless two-piece white garment, symbolising a state of purity. Women also generally wear white, covering full body except their faces and hands.
Emotional scenes were witnessed in Arafat as on arrival many pilgrims could not control tears and many continued to thank Allah for making it possible for them to perform Haj.
Hundreds of pilgrims crowded onto the hill and the massive plain surrounding it to pray until sunset.
Hours before the pre-dawn prayers, more than three lakh pilgrims had assembled outside Masjid Namira in Arafat to get inside the premises to offer prayers amidst chants of ‘Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik’ (I come to you, Oh my Lord, I come to you).
Many pilgrims offered special prayers inside the mosque after day-break in memory of the tradition of the Prophet.
Praying at Mount Arafat is an accomplishment of a pilgrim’s life and fulfillment of his dream of performing Haj.
After offering prayers at Arafat, pilgrims will travel to nearby Muzdalifa to collect stones for the ritual in Mina Valley, an event which has been marred in the past by stampedes. The pilgrims will perform the symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones at the three pillars tomorrow.
After the stoning, the pilgrims will perform the ritual of animal sacrifice to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, Ismail, to God.
The pilgrimage will end after Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice.
The Saudi government has arranged foolproof safety and security measures, deploying nearly 100,000 men in uniform at the holy sites to make the journey of a lifetime for the two million pilgrims safe and secure.
Saudi officials said a total of 13,74,206 foreign pilgrims have arrived for Haj this year.
The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam that should be performed at least once in lifetime by every Muslim who is financially and physically capable.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee, congratulated King Salman on the successful arrival of 1.38 million pilgrims from 164 nations.
Interior Ministry spokesman Maj Gen Mansour Al-Turki said the movement of pilgrims from Mecca to Mina was orderly and went according to a well-executed plan.