Jeddah: With just a day left for this year`s Hajj pilgrimage to conclude, pilgrims on Sunday rushed to complete their final rituals of stoning the devil and a farewell circumambulation of the Kabaa, following which they will head back to their countries.
Nearly three million pilgrims including 1.7 lakh Indians performed the pilgrimage this year and Saudi authorities said the number of pilgrims increased by eight per cent compared to the previous year.
Most pilgrims, who have finished the symbolic stoning of the devil, during which they hurl stones at three pillars representing Satan in Mina, started returning to Mecca for the final leg of their journey, which many of them have waited for all their lives.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and every able bodied Muslim who can afford to travel to Mecca is expected to perform the pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime.
Saudi Press Agency said that convoys of pilgrims had started proceeding from Mina to Mecca where they will for one last time go around the cube-shaped structure called Kabaa, the most sacred site in Islam.
Built by Prophet Abraham, Kabaa or `The Noble Cube` stands at the centre of the Grand Mosque of Mecca, and Muslims all around the world turn towards its direction while standing in prayer.
Director General of the Statistics and Information Department of Saudi Arabia, Muhanna bin Abdul-Karim Al-Muhanna, said that this year 64.3 per cent of the pilgrims were men while 35.7 per cent were women.
In Mecca, authorities geared up to receive all the pilgrims who will assemble in the city for one last time before departing to their home countries.
The rituals will continue till tomorrow, which is the last day of this year`s Hajj.