Saudi sets start of hajj pilgrimage for Nov 14

Saudi authorities set November 16 for the Eid al-Adha holy day and festival.

Updated: Nov 07, 2010, 10:22 AM IST

Riyadh: The annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca will begin on November 14 after Saudi authorities on Saturday set November 16 for the Eid al-Adha holy day and festival, following the sighting of the crescent moon.

After official astronomers confirmed the sighting, that decides the start of the month of Dhul al-Hijja, the Supreme Court declared tomorrow to be the first day of that month, the official SPA news agency reported.

The ruling means the annual hajj will now start on November 14.

More than 1.5 million Muslims from all over the world have already converged on the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in western Saudi Arabia for the hajj, the world`s largest annual gathering.

Officials estimate a total of about two million will take part this year.

Eid al-Adha, which commemorates biblical patriarch Ibrahim`s (or Abraham`s) acceptance of God`s command to sacrifice his son Ismail (or Ishmael), always falls on the 10th of Dhul al-Hijja on the Islamic calendar.

As Ibrahim was allowed to sacrifice a ram instead, Muslim families mark the day by ritually sacrificing sheep, goats, cows and other livestock, the meat of which is also shared with the needy.