Pilgrims perform final Hajj rituals
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Last Updated: Tuesday, November 08, 2011, 18:36
  
Mina (Saudi Arabia): Nearly three million Muslim pilgrims were performing the final rituals of the Hajj on Tuesday as the world's largest annual gathering neared its close without major incident.

The most dangerous rite of the annual Hajj proceeded peacefully as pilgrims rushed to throw 21 stones at pillars that symbolise the devil in the village of Mina, the last rite of the annual pilgrimage.

In previous years, hundreds of people have been trampled to death in stampedes triggered by crowds trying to get close to the pillars to take their vengeance on the symbol of the devil.

To complete the ritual, pilgrims must stone the three pillars said to symbolise the devil, also referred to as Ibleess by Muslims. The largest of the pillars is Jamrat al-Aqaba, at 30 metres.

The ritual is an emulation of Ibrahim's stoning of the devil at the three spots where he is said to have appeared trying to dissuade the biblical patriarch from obeying God's order to sacrifice his son, Ishmael.

Pilgrims then make their way to Mecca's Great Mosque for a "farewell visit" to the Kaaba, a cube-shaped structure into which is set the Black Stone, Islam's most sacred relic.

Pilgrims who are in a hurry will leave today, after they finish their stoning rituals and the farewell circumambulation of the Kaaba. Others stay for a further day.

Saudi authorities have installed a multi-level walkway through the stone-throwing site in a bid to avoid the trampling that caused the deaths of 364 people in 2006, 251 in 2004 and 1,426 in 1990.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, November 08, 2011, 18:36


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