Over 2 million believers, including about 1.5 lakh Indians, on Saturday ritually stoned the devil in Mina Valley marking the end of the Haj pilgrimage, as Muslims around the world celebrated Eid-al-Adha.
The pilgrims converged at Mina Valley, about 5 km east of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, to hurl stones at three concrete pillars representing the devil.
The ritual began early Saturday morning and sizeable number of pilgrims, wearing the ihram or two-piece seamless white garment, participated throughout the day.
After the stoning, the pilgrims performed the ritual of animal sacrifice to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, Ismail, to god.
The stoning ritual is meant to mirror Ibrahim’s stoning of the devil when he appeared to try to dissuade the Prophet from obeying god’s order to sacrifice Ismail.
Eid-ul-Adha is being celebrated with great fervour and excitement across the Arab world on Saturday. The festival is celebrated to commemorate Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice.
After prayers at Mount Arafat on Friday, pilgrims travelled to nearby Muzdalifa to collect stones for the ritual in Mina Valley, an event marred in the past by stampedes.
After the stoning and the sacrifice of animals, pilgrims got their heads shaved and came out of the ihram to wear their normal clothes. The pilgrimage has so far been incident-free.
Some pilgrims chose to circumambulate the Kaaba, the black cubical structure inside the Grand Mosque, on Saturday while others, including the elderly, may do it on Sunday when the crowd would be significantly less.
In his annual Haj sermon, Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh on Friday voiced Islam’s unequivocal position against extremism and terrorism.
The journey of the pilgrims began on Wednesday, when they streamed towards Mina for the first leg of Haj.
With the end of the over a month-long journey for the Indian pilgrims nearing, emotional scenes were witnessed in the camp as tears and prayers were seen everywhere.
The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam that should be performed at least once in lifetime by every Muslim who is financially and physically capable.
Over 136,000 Indian pilgrims performed Haj this year.
“So far the Haj has gone really well. All Indian hajis are in Mina and are performing the ritual of Rami (stoning of the devil),” Indian Consul-General B.S. Mubarak told PTI.
“I would say the Haj has been incident-free so far… Until the last batch of pilgrims fly safely on November 10, we would do our best and then declare success,” Mr. Mubarak said.