Annual Hajj begins in Mecca

Published On September 22, 2015 | By hshlapak | News
Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca September 22, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca September 22, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

By Mahnoor Yawar

More than two million Muslims from around the world started the first rites of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

The pilgrimage, which takes place over four to five days in the last month of the lunar Islamic calendar, is considered one the largest annual gatherings of people in the world.

This year Hajj begins less than two weeks after more than 100 people were killed and 230 wounded in the Grand Mosque complex due to a construction crane collapse. Saudi authorities began controversial expansion initiatives in 2014 in an effort to increase the mosque’s capacity to about 2.2 million worshippers and ease Hajj traffic.

The end of Hajj is marked by the Islamic celebration of Eid-ul-Adha, which falls on Sept. 24 this year in most of the world.

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