Muslim Haj Pilgrims Begin Their Holy Journey in Mecca

Annual Hajj/ Haj 2016 has started in Mecca  on Saturday in Western Saudi Arabia. About 1.5 million Muslim Pilgrims from Asia , Africa , Europe and many other countries have started gathered to perform the hajj-mina-mecca-2016preliminary Haj rituals . They will move on Saturday to Mina to follow the footseps of their Prophet Mohammed who performed the same rituals about 1,400 years ago. This movement is considered to be the biggest mass movement from one place to another place in the world. Mina is about five kilometer far from Mecca . Earlier the first day used to be the day to water the animals on which pilgrims used to come and stock up on water. However, now that tradition has no significance due to modern drinking facilities and transportation. Now pilgrims move to Mina on bus / train . There are many pilgrims who go on foot . From Mina they move to Mount Arafat , which is also several kilomteres away . This all is done in devitalizing temperatures exceeding to 40 C (100 F) .

Mina is the base where there is facility of air conditioned fireproof tents , which accommodates about 2.6 million pilgrims. It is also known as Tent city. Last year , Mina has witnessed the worst ever incident during Hajj in which about 2,297 people died in the stampede during stoning the devil. Still , this year, undaunted by last year stampede , pilgrims are enthusiast about their Haj pilgrimage and millions came to pray at the holy mosque. One can see White clad Muslim Haj pilgrims with their e-bracelet on their wrist ,  beads clutched in their fingers  across the Grand Mosque .

This year tens of thousands of Iranians are absent from Hajj because of long-running tensions between their Shiite nation and Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia. This friction was exaggerated more by the stampede. Protest break out in Tehran as Iran bans citizens from taking Hajj. Tehran says the overall toll was much higher. According to Iranian Government , Seven thousand people were martyred, were killed, from 39 countries and  Saudi Arabia says the figure was only 769, but has refused to release the details of its investigation.

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