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In pictures: More than 2 million Muslims gather in Mecca as haj pilgrimage begins

In pictures: More than 2 million Muslims gather in Mecca as haj pilgrimage begins

In pictures: More than 2 million Muslims gather in Mecca as haj pilgrimage begins

Muslim pilgrims settling in Arafat tents on Monday were celebrating the first day of the annual haj pilgrimage.

Clad in white robes signifying a state of purity and carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun as temperatures surpassed 40 degrees Celsius, the pilgrims said they would pray for Palestinians and for all Muslims around the world.

More than two million Muslims gathered at Mount Arafat for a vigil to atone for their sins and ask God's forgiveness as the annual haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia reached its climax.

Men and women from 165 countries have arrived for the five-day ritual, a religious duty once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the journey.

The pilgrims will spend the day on Mount Arafat. By sunset they will move to the rocky plain of Muzdalifa to gather pebbles to throw at stone columns symbolising the devil at another location called Jamarat on Tuesday (August 21), which marks the first day of Eid al-Adha, or the feast of sacrifice.

Reuters

Reuters

Reuters

Reuters

Reuters

Reuters