July 27, 2020, 08.00 PM

It's a stark departure from previous years, when some 2 million pilgrims from more than 160 countries flocked to Mecca for the spiritual rituals, mostly from across Asia and Africa.

Although the hajj often draws all age groups, pilgrims this year were required to be between the ages of 20 and 50, and in good health.

The physically demanding rituals of the hajj offer a profound experience for Muslims, with the faithful often weeping, their palms stretched toward the sky, in prayer and repentance.

The hajj is required of all able-bodied Muslims once in a lifetime.

This year, pilgrims must wear face masks and will only be able to drink holy water from the Zamzam well in Mecca that has been prepackaged in plastic bottles.

Pebbles for casting away evil that is usually picked up by pilgrims along hajj routes will be sterilized and bagged before being distributed to the pilgrims.

Pilgrims are also bringing their own prayer rugs and will be required to pray at a distance from one another, rather than packed shoulder-to-shoulder.

(Writer: Aya Batrawy) 

Source: https://apnews.com/2c3c28c615ebc6065797c1c50077dab9 

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