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The Hajj, from the Arabic word signifying 'pilgrimage', takes place in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world. As the fifth pillar of Islam, this journey is a religious duty every able-bodied Muslim must carry out at least once in their lifetime.
The Hajj occurs every year from the 8th to the 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, which refers to the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar.
Although the Hajj is often associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad, pagans have been performing pilgrimages before the establishment of Islam.
Pilgrims, converging in the hundreds of thousands, perform a series of rituals. Each person must walk counter-clockwise seven time around the Kaaba, and run back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah. In addition, they must drink from the Zamzam well and stand in vigil on the plains of Mount Arafat. Finally, stones are thrown in a ritual representing the stoning of the Devil.
The end of the Hajj is marked by the three-day celebration of Eid al-Adha, an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide. The days of Eid are days reserved for remembrance, eating and drinking.
| WHO calls Muslim pilgrims to pay special attention to hygiene to prevent spread of deadly viruses |
Thu 2 to Mon 6 Oct 2014