Hajj pilgrims stone Satan in Mina



Hajj pilgrims stone Satan in Mina 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.

PTI