MINA: Visibly relaxed Haj pilgrims performed the stoning ritual for the second consecutive day in Mina on Tuesday.
They carried out the ritual with relative ease. The stress that was so evident on Monday was gone.
The pilgrims had shed their ihram and were in colorful clothes. For the first time since the rituals began three days ago, they had time to catch up on news and flip through newspapers.
In many cases, younger pilgrims helped their parents, some in wheelchairs, make their way toward the massive multi-story Jamrat Complex where pilgrims cast pebbles at three large columns.
With just one day to go until this year’s Haj is complete, it was common to see many pilgrims engaged in prayer and supplication.
Munawwar Farooqui, from Lucknow in India, who had his head shaved in a tradition dating back to more than 1,400 years ago, said: “The stress of Haj is a metaphor for what must be borne in life. It teaches us that all life is a spiritual quest.”
Canadian pilgrim Assad Yakoub said: “I realize the mercy of Allah, that we are here to seek His forgiveness, and that this Haj will make a change in my life so that I can become a better Muslim.”
Meanwhile, the security forces chief revealed on Tuesday that his men in uniform had stopped 200,000 drivers from sneaking more than 500,000 undocumented pilgrims into the holy sites.
Lt. Gen. Khaled Al-Harbi said the offenders had their fingerprints taken which were passed to the relevant authorities.
He said the rigorous application of security standards prevented the entry of illegal pilgrims, contributing significantly to the smooth progression of the Haj rituals.
He said the ground floor of the Jamrat Bridge accommodated 500,000 pilgrims at a time while 350,000 others were distributed to other floors.
Save for the blistering weather, everything went smoothly and according to plan.
The five-day-long pilgrimage is a series of rituals meant to cleanse the soul of sins and instill a sense of equality and brotherhood among Muslims.
Over the years, the government has spent billions of riyals to improve the safety of the pilgrimage, particularly in Mina.
Narrow streets that lead to the large pedestrian paths around the Jamrat Complex have been widened.
The pilgrims will stream out of Mina on Wednesday after performing what for many has been a once-in-a-lifetime journey of faith.
Stoning continues peacefully; Hajis out of ihram
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