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Saudi Arabia concludes downsized hajj amid pandemic

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MECCA: Muslim pilgrims circled Islam’s holiest website alongside socially distanced paths on Sunday within the last ritual of the hajj, the smallest in trendy historical past as Saudi authorities sought to forestall a coronavirus outbreak. Solely as much as 10,000 […]

MECCA: Muslim pilgrims circled Islam’s holiest website alongside socially distanced paths on Sunday within the last ritual of the hajj, the smallest in trendy historical past as Saudi authorities sought to forestall a coronavirus outbreak.
Solely as much as 10,000 Muslims took half within the hajj, a far cry from the two.5 million who took half within the five-day annual pilgrimage final yr.
Masked pilgrims threw pebbles at a wall symbolising Devil in Mina, near the holy metropolis of Mecca, on the ultimate day of hajj, state media reported.
As an alternative of gathering the pebbles themselves as in previous years, they have been handed them bagged and sterilised by hajj authorities, to guard towards the novel coronavirus.
Pilgrims returned to the Grand Mosque in Mecca in a while Sunday to carry out a last “tawaf”, or circling of the Kaaba — a cubic construction in direction of which Muslims world wide pray.
Holding the ritual within the shadow of the pandemic required “double efforts” by Saudi authorities, King Salman mentioned on Friday after being discharged from hospital following surgical procedure to take away his gall bladder.
“The hajj this yr was restricted to a really restricted variety of individuals from a number of nationalities, guaranteeing the ritual was accomplished regardless of the troublesome circumstances,” mentioned the dominion’s 84-year-old ruler.
Well being authorities mentioned no coronavirus circumstances have been reported on the holy websites through the hajj.
The pilgrims, who have been required to watch social distancing and subjected to common temperature checks, will go into necessary quarantine after the hajj, authorities mentioned.
The ritual, one of many 5 pillars of Islam and a should for able-bodied Muslims no less than as soon as of their lifetime, is often one of many world’s largest non secular gatherings.
However native media mentioned as much as 10,000 individuals already residing within the kingdom have been collaborating this yr.
The hajj ministry had initially mentioned round 1,000 pilgrims could be allowed.
The hajj usually prices hundreds of {dollars} for pilgrims, who usually save for years in addition to endure lengthy ready lists for an opportunity to attend.
However this yr, the Saudi authorities is masking the bills of all pilgrims, offering them with meals, lodge lodging and well being care, worshippers mentioned.
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