Hajj pilgrims perform 'stoning of the devil' ritual in Mina

Day one of the symbolic pelting of the devil, known as the Jamarat ritual, has gone off without a hitch.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Muslim pilgrims arrive to throw pebbles at pillars during the "Jamarat" ritual, the stoning of Satan, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, on September 12, 2016.

A sea of pilgrims gathered at Mina, a few kilometres outside Mecca, to complete the final major rite of the hajj – the stoning of the Jamarat on Monday.

Nearly 2 million pilgrims from 160 countries flowed on multiple ramps toward the Jamarat Bridge where the "stoning of the devil" took place under high security and without incident, the interior and hajj ministry spokesmen said.

Last year, a stampede caused the deaths of scores of people and was the worst disaster in the history of the hajj.

Riyadh issued a death toll of 769, although figures compiled from foreign officials in more than 30 countries gave a stampede tally of roughly 2,300.

Muslim pilgrims throw pebbles at pillars during the "Jamarat" ritual, the stoning of Satan, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, on September 12, 2016.

 This year a number of safety measures have been taken and pilgrims said they were satisfied with this year's organisation.

"I was awaiting the worst and in the end everything took place perfectly," said a French pilgrim who gave his name only as Abdullah, 33.

"The Saudi police managed the situation very well," he said, after shaving his head to mark the end of the hajj.

An Egyptian man kisses his mother's forehead of she cast stones at a pillar symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, on the first day of Eid al-Adha, in Mina, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi pilgrim Ibrahim Ayed, 40, who took part in the hajj and the stoning ritual for the first time in a decade, agreed.

"There has been a clear improvement," he said. 

The stoning ritual coincided with Eid ul-Adha, Islam's feast of sacrifice which is celebrated by more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.

Sheep are slaughtered and the meat distributed to needy Muslims, commemorating prophet Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son on the orders of God, who in the end sent a lamb in the boy's place.

This year a new computerized system designed to make the lives of pilgrims easier was set up. Pilgrims can simply purchase computerised coupons to order a sacrifice without even seeing the beast.

The Jamarat ritual, in Mina at the eastern edge of Mecca, emulates Abraham's stoning of the devil in resisting the temptation to disobey God's order

Elevated cameras stationed several metres apart filmed the pilgrims, most clad in white and moving behind coloured flags identifying their groups.

A Muslim pilgrim shaves his hair after throwing pebbles at pillars during the "Jamarat" ritual, the stoning of Satan, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, on September 12, 2016.

Safety first

The stoning bridge, which resembles a large multi-storey car park, was erected in the past decade at a cost of more than $1 billion.

It was designed to prevent overcrowding.

Hundreds of police were stationed on each of the Jamarat's five floors, linked by escalators, from where pilgrims tossed gravel-sized stones against rough stone walls.

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (R) looking at temporary accommodation to visiting pilgrims in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, on September 12, 2016

The custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz arrived in Mina on Monday to ensure the pilgrims can "perform their rituals easily, conveniently and safely", the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

He congratulated citizens and pilgrims for the day of Eid and praised the efforts of security officials to ensure the Haj remains incident free.

More than 1.8 million faithful, most of them from abroad, are performing the six-day hajj, which officially ends Thursday.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and capable Muslims must perform it at least once.

TRTWorld and agencies