Hajj 2021: Ghilaf-e-Kaaba changed as part of annual tradition

Riyadh: The annual ritual of changing Kiswah (Ghilaf-e-Kaaba) was held on Sunday night—July 18 (8th Zul-Hijjah) at Masjid al-Haram in Saudi Arabia, where mask-clad pilgrims had gathered to perform the Hajj, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Kiswah, a huge piece of black silk embroidered with golden patterns, is hung over the Kaaba to symbolize the beginning of the Hajj season.

The general presidency for the affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, on Sunday, conducted the process of changing the covering of the Kaaba, as usual on this day every year.

Hajj amid COVID-19

Each year, the streets of Makkah usually draw more than two million pilgrims.

Rather than a sea of people from different walks of life, this year for the second time in a row, a tiny fraction of citizens and residents from across the Kingdom participated in the ritual at the holiest site in Islam as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only 60,000 pilgrims were allowed to participate this year, so as to prevent the deadly outbreak during the five-day pilgrimage.

What is the Kiswah?

The term Kiswah in Arabic means clothing made for covering the body, but it is also used as a term for the silk covering of the Kaaba. It is made of high-quality black velvet backed by a heavy-duty lining.

It is draped annually on the ninth day of the month of Zul-Hijjah, the day pilgrims leave for the plains of Mount Arafat while performing the Hajj.

The covering of the Kaaba is made of 47 pieces of natural silk, each 98 cm by 14 metres. The outer layer of the Kiswa consists of 670 kg of pure silk. The lining on the inside is a strong cotton lining, which helps keep the silk on top.

A golden thread adorns the black silk, inscribed with Quranic verses and phrases such as “There is no god but Allah” and “Glory be to Allah.”

The Kiswah also has a portion of the strap that wraps around to hold it in place. Measuring 46 meters in length and 95 cm in width, it is made of 16 pieces and is also embroidered with Quranic verses.

The Kiswah includes a curtain for the door of the Kaaba. The embroidered curtain on the door of the Kaaba was put on the Kaaba gate in 1300-1396 (819 Hijri calendar).

The Kiswah was produced in Egypt, but in 1927 King Abdulaziz ordered that the Kiswah be produced in Makkah.

Since 1958 the kiswah has been manufactured in Makkah Al Mukarramah.

An approximate — million riyals have been spent on the preparation of the Ghilaf-e-Kaaba by dozens of weaving experts at a special factory exclusively devoted to the manufacture of the Kiswah.