Muslims begin Haj pilgrimage in Mecca
After donning the traditional white robes of the Haj the pilgrims set out from Mecca for the sprawling tent city in Mina.india Updated: Dec 28, 2006 21:11 IST
The annual Haj pilgrimage to Islam's holiest city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia began on Thursday.
After donning the traditional white robes of the Haj the pilgrims set out from Mecca for the sprawling tent city in Mina eight km away where they will be accommodated for the next few days.
On Friday they will continue on to Mount Arafat, the most important stage of the Haj, to ask God for forgiveness.
The Saudi authorities have implemented comprehensive security measures in order to avoid any recurrence of previous tragedies.
Almost 400 people died in the last Haj at the beginning of this year during a stampede.
The crush took place on the third day of the Haj, when pilgrims throw stones at three pillars in Mina representing the devil. To get to that point, the crowd must squeeze through a narrow bridge.
The Haj pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam. Every Muslim is expected to undertake the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.