Mecca: Dressed in white seamless clothes,
millions of Muslims from across the globe, including India,
chanting "God is Great" on Sunday stoned pillars representing
Satan in Mina, just outside Mecca, marking the last ritual of
the world`s largest annual human assembly, Hajj pilgrimage.
A sea of men and women of all ages pelted seven stones
each at three jamarat (pillars) representing Satan, a symbolic
stoning of evil and a ritual which has witnessed death of
hundreds of pilgrims in the stampedes in the past.
The ritual commemorates Prophet Abraham`s stoning of the
devil, who is said to have appeared thrice to tempt him.
In January 2006, 364 pilgrims were killed in a stampede
at the entrance to a bridge leading to the stoning site, while
251 were trampled to death in 2004.
Earlier, the pilgrims travelled to an open plain called
Muzdalifa, between Arafat and Mina, to collect pebbles after
preforming prayers yesterday on the Mount Arafat, where
Prophet Mohammad delivered his famous final sermon.
After stoning, the pilgrims performed animal sacrifice
and celebrated the three day global festival of Eid al-Adha.
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a
duty that all able-bodied Muslims must undertake at least once
in their lifetime.
Over 1.25 lakh Indians are among three million Muslims
from 183 countries, who are in Mecca to perform Hajj.
The highlight of this year`s Hajj is the new Metro rail
that is shuttling tens of thousands of pilgrims.
The Hajj metro is operating for the first time and has
capacity of 72,000 people per hour to ease congestion and
avoid stampedes which have previously killed hundreds.
Around 63,000 security forces in addition to the 17,000
traffic policemen and tens of thousands of officials have been
deployed to make the pilgrimage accident free.