A few thousand people gathered near the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Thursday for the climax of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which was significantly curtailed this year due to COVID-19.annual Hajj pilgrimage,
AFP reports that a few thousand people took part in this year’s pilgrimage which was a drastic reduction from the 2.5 million people who usually gather every year in Mecca for Islam’s biggest gathering.
Muslim faithful wearing masks and observing social distancing. It is the first time Saudi Arabia decided to drastically limit the number of pilgrims at the Hajj in modern history.
In Saudi on Thursrday, pilgrims, who were clad in their traditional snow-white robes, wore face masks and observed distancing as they prayed inside al-Namirah Mosque in the area of Mount Arafat, around 20 kilometres east of Mecca.
The granite hill is the site where the Prophet Mohammed is believed to have delivered his last sermon, around 14 centuries ago.
Live broadcasting of the ritual sermon showed mask-wearing pilgrims listening and praying using personal rugs as part of strict health precautions.
Saudi authorities also set up sterilised tents to accommodate pilgrims in Arafat, Saudi state television al-Ekhbariya reported.
During the Hajj, male pilgrims usually wear seamless pieces of white cloth, while women wear loose garments without make-up or jewelry.
Their attire symbolises abandoning worldly wealth and acknowledging equality.
The pilgrimage takes place annually from the eighth to the 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar.