Muslims begin annual Hajj


PV Desk : Hundreds of thousands of Muslims began the annual Hajj pilgrimage, donning traditional white garments and heading to a tent camp outside the holy city of Makkah in an itinerary retracing the route Prophet Mohammad took 14 centuries ago.
All told, more than 1.75 million worshippers from 168 countries arrived in Saudi Arabia this week for the five-day ritual, which is a once-in-a-lifetime religious duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.
Some prayed at the Grand Mosque before heading to the Mina area or towards Mount Arafat, where the Prophet is believed to have delivered his final sermon to followers.
They walked or took buses, with traffic police using loudspeakers to try to direct crowds speaking a medley of languages. They were dressed in simple white robes, marking a state of ihram, or ritual purity.