Muslim pilgrims perform the symbolic stoning of the Hajj devil

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Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims threw pebbles at giant columns symbolizing Satan on Saturday, as part of the annual hajj rituals that mark the first day of the Eid al-Adha holiday celebrated by Muslims around the world.

Helicopters hovered overhead as security guards organized the flow of worshipers to Jamarat, where the stoning ritual takes place, as Saudi authorities closely monitored the crowd to ensure an uneventful haj, which has been marred in the past by deadly stampedes. The limited number of pilgrims this year as a result of the pandemic helped to enhance the experience. “Everything was easy, from organizing the crowd, or stoning in Jamarat, to Tawaf (walking in circles in the Grand Mosque in Makkah),” said a Palestinian pilgrim who gave only her first name, Nussaiba. .

Saudi Arabia said up to one million pilgrims, mostly from abroad, are expected this haj season after two years of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in which authorities only allowed Saudi residents to perform the pilgrimage. That’s less than half of the roughly 2.6 million pilgrims who visited Islam’s two holiest sites in Mecca and Medina for the haj in 2019, and some 19 million more who attended Umrah, a minor pilgrimage that can be performed at any time of the year.

In a welcome speech to the pilgrims published on the official SPA news agency, Saudi King Salman thanked “the enormous efforts made by workers in all sectors” of the country. Riyadh bases its reputation on its guardianship of Islam’s holiest sites and hosting the largest religious gathering in the world, which traces the route taken by the Prophet Muhammad 14 centuries ago.

The kingdom deploys tens of thousands of security guards and doctors as well as modern technologies, including surveillance drones, to maintain order. Dressed in white robes signifying equality before God, men and women from 165 countries converged on Jamarat to perform the ritual from a three-story bridge erected to ease congestion.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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