Pilgrims flock to Mount Arafat in high point of pandemic-era hajj

Some 60,000 people, pilgrims gathered at Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat on Monday in the high point of this year’s hajj, being held in downsized form and under coronavirus limitations for the second year running.

The pilgrims’ citizens or residents of Saudi Arabia have been chosen to take part in this year’s hajj, with foreign pilgrims again denied.

The mask-clad faithful, who had spent the night in camps in the Valley of Mina, converged on Mount Arafat where it is believed the Prophet Mohammed delivered his final sermon, for the most important of the hajj rituals.

Afternoon prayers, worshippers traditionally climb the 70-metre (230-foot) high hill and its surrounding plain for hours of prayers and Koran recitals to atone for their sins, staying there till the evening.

After sunset, they head to Muzdalifah, halfway between Arafat and Mina, where they will sleep under the stars before completing the symbolic “stoning of the devil”.

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