In the years leading up to the coronavirus, some three million white-clad pilgrims from around the world flocked to Islam’s holiest sites to witness Hajj under the bright sun of Saudi Arabia.
With the pandemic making large gatherings impossible, only a few thousand pilgrims (Saudi and foreign residents of the kingdom) are allowed to gather this year on Mount Pietat in the plains of Arafat to get the most ritual. important. They share a common allegation.
“Everyone will pray for this pandemic to end and for all the people of the world to see better months after all the suffering caused by the coronavirus,” said Ammar Khaled, a 29-year-old Indian pilgrim who is IT. professional in Jeddah.
Over the years, the kingdom has spent billions of dollars making one of the largest religious gatherings in the world safer.
This year faces the challenge of maintaining Hajj, a unique duty in life for all able-bodied Muslims who can afford it and an important source of income for the government, outside of COVID-19.
For the first time in modern history, it has drastically reduced the number of pilgrims to ensure that social distancing measures are respected.
Hajj’s minister said that in June the number of pilgrims will be limited to about 1,000, but no official number has been given for those performing the rituals this week. Some local media quoted a figure of about 10,000.
Saudi health and security professionals, on the front lines of the battle against the disease, account for about 30 percent of the total, the rest coming from 160 nationalities residing in the kingdom.
Pilgrims wearing masks sought the Kaaba, a more sacred stone structure in Islam and the direction Muslims have to pray – in small groups of 50 people, each keeping a safe distance apart and accompanied by a health professional. which monitors their movements.
Unlike in previous years when they went to the Kaaba, pilgrims cannot touch the flat stone cube building covered in black cloth and wrapped in Arabic writing on golden silk.
Workers sanitized the structure, rubbing the Oud perfume, the popular Arabian and woody Arabian aroma on its walls, and carrying incense as they moved through the facilities of the Great Mosque.
At the site, 3,500 workers were distributed by the Grand Mosque of Mecca to sanitize it using 54,000 liters (11,888 gallons) of disinfectant and 1,050 liters (277 gallons) of air fresheners.
The floors of the mosque were scrubbed ten times a day, up to three times in the past.