The pilgrimage of Hajj
The pilgrimage of Hajj, the annual Muslim ritual of peace and brotherhood, has begun in Saudi Arabia with a record breaking number of more than 2.5 million pilgrims. This is due to the complete relaxation of coronavirus pandemic restrictions, which previously rendered many unable to travel.
The sheer number of pilgrims this year is not the only challenge faced by the visitors and the authorities. Temperatures in Saudi Arabia have settled at around 45°C, and Saudi authorities say 32000 health workers and ambulances are on duty around to treat pilgrims suffering from heatstroke, exhaustion and dehydration.
This is especially a concern considering the involvements of the Hajj pilgrimage, like walking 8km from one place to another, circling the Masjid Al-Haram seven times, running between too hillocks and standing in the field of Arafat all day. Though several of these activities are not facilitated by things such as air conditioning, a lot of pilgrims are often weak or elderly, increasing the risks.
The Hajj is also especially expensive this year because of the rampant inflation all over the world. Many spend their lives in hope to be able to afford it one day, as it is compulsory on every able bodied Muslim who is financially able to perform the pilgrimage. The cost, however, for the pilgrims, is worth it. Abdelazim, an elderly man who saved up for two decades to pay the $6000 to perform Hajj, told reporters:
“I am living the most beautiful days of my life.”
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