Thousands of Pilgrims Begin Hajj Pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia | free press

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This year, more pilgrims are allowed. The corona requirements are very strict,

Riyadh (dpa) – Thousands of pilgrims embarked on the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia under strict Corona conditions. Some 36,000 people traveled to Mecca, according to news channel Al-Akhbarija, with thousands more to follow on Sunday.

A total of 60,000 pilgrims living in Saudi Arabia are admitted. That is only a fraction of the more than two million who otherwise participate in the pilgrimage. The Hajj is usually the largest gathering of Muslims in the world.

On Sunday, as in the previous year, an unusual image emerged in the courtyard of the Great Mosque of Mecca. There, the pilgrims walked widely apart around the cube-shaped building known as the Kaaba. According to the regulations, they must also wear a mouth cap. Markers on the ground showed them the way. Usually there is a lot of crowds in the courtyard of the mosque, which increases in the pilgrimage days.

To prevent the pandemic from spreading further, only vaccinated participants are allowed, who must also be between the ages of 18 and 65. So far, 507,000 coronavirus infections and 8,000 Covid-19-related deaths have been reported in Saudi Arabia. Ten percent of the kingdom’s population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, according to statistics website Our World In Data, and a further 43 percent have received a starting dose.

For devout Muslims, the pilgrimage is one of the five basic tasks. Every devout Muslim who is healthy and can afford it should make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his life. Many of them save for years for long trips from Asia, Africa or other parts of the world. The pilgrimage, which is also organized by travel agencies and tour operators, can quickly cost a pilgrim several thousand dollars.