Satan stoning ritual begins
Mina (Saudi Arabia), Nov 16: Pilgrims on hajj in Saudi Arabia have begun casting pebbles at three pillars that represent Satan.
Thousands at the site in Mina climbed Tuesday a giant ramp recently expanded by Saudi authorities to prevent deadly crowding, toward the walls that represent Satan. In the heavy traffic, crushes and pileups have killed hundreds, most recently in 2006.
The stoning ritual will be repeated for two more days, until the end of the hajj.
The pilgrimage is a religious duty for every Muslim able to carry it out. Tuesday also marked the start of Eid al-Adha. A human tide of pilgrims carrying bags of pebbles descended on the Mina valley on Tuesday to symbolically stone Satan on the third day of the hajj.
Small pebbles whizzed above heads as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims rushed to stone a 30-metre long structure, the longest of three walls said to symbolise the devil, also referred to as Ibleess by Muslims.
Muslim pilgrims cast stones at a pillar, symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat Hajj pilgrims have been streaming onto the Jamarat Bridge to stone the devil. They also sacrificed animals to mark Eid Al-Adha.
Some two million pilgrims taking part in this year's hajj, the world's largest annual pilgrimage, had overnight arrived at Mina, a tent town in western Saudi Arabia that comes to life five days a year, after returning from rituals marking the peak of the hajj at nearby Mount
Arafat on Monday.
Stoning has in the past been marked by deadly stampedes but the Saudi authorities have now revamped the area, expanding the stoning path into a multi-storey bridge. The structure, which resembles a parking lot sits in the middle of a barren valley surrounded by arid rocky hills, aims to prevent the type of trampling that caused the deaths of 364 people in 2006, 251 in 2004 and 1,426 in 1990.
The endless flood of white-robed pilgrims were directed Tuesday onto various levels by police, who made sure all moved in one direction only and that no one stayed too long at the site. Those taking a seat were hastily moved on.
At the fifth level of the bridge - the highest - the crowded entry point eases onto a wide bridge where pilgrims can more easily carry out the stoning rituals, which mark defiance of the devil. After the stoning, pilgrims perform the ritual of sacrificing an animal, usually a lamb, as the third day of hajj also marks the Muslim major feast, Eid al-Adha.
Hosted by the Ministry of Culture and Information, more than 300 media men and intellectuals from around the world have gathered at the holy sites in Makkah to participate in live broadcasting of the overall process of this year's Hajj rituals.
Thirty news media organisations representing satellite TV channels and international news agencies are participating in the live broadcasting of this year's Hajj season around the clock.
The corridors of the information centers in Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah and Masha'r of Arafat and Mina that prepared by the Ministry of Culture and Information, are packed with media men who are competing to cover the movements of the pilgrims among the holy sites and broadcasting the facts of this great and major Islamic occasion.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 17 Nov 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 17 Nov 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 18 Nov 2010 00:00:00 IST
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