Pilgrims stone the devil for 2nd day

Stone Througing on day 2

Pilgrims continued to perform the mandatory rituals of Haj on Friday despite a massive stampede a day earlier.

Few pilgrims slept on Thursday night, thronging major roads and bridges as wailing ambulances continued to ferry the dead and injured to hospitals and morgues in and around Mina.

At the crack of dawn, pilgrims trudged toward the Jamrat complex and ritually stoned the devil for a second day. A massive security presence allowed the process to go relatively smoothly.

Though there was no respite from the boiling heat for much of the day, pilgrims were a little easier because they were able to change out of ihram or ceremonial terrycloth into their normal clothes.

According to official figures, just short of 1.95 million pilgrims performed Haj this year — far fewer than in previous years because of the cut in pilgrim quota in view of massive construction work in and around the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

Feelings in Mina were decidedly mixed. Pilgrims unaffected by the tragedy continued with their schedule and, once the stoning ritual was behind them, breathed a sigh of relief.

They have to stay in Mina for one more night and perform the ritual one last time on Saturday before heading to Makkah for the farewell tawaf or circumambulation of the Holy Kaaba.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling for me,” Arshad Siddiqui, a British pilgrim told Arab News at the Jamrat Complex. “I’m sad for what happened on Thursday and I’m happy for myself to have completed these daunting rituals.”

Mohammed Abdel Jalil, from Cairo, Egypt, said he felt a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. “Being in a state of ihram entails lots of responsibilities, so pilgrims want to complete the rituals as soon as they can to get into their regular clothes,” he said.

Abdel Jalil, for whom this is the second Haj, said the Saudis have done a lot to expand the infrastructure at the holy sites.

“It’s very hard to believe that such a tragedy occurred,” he said. “I prayed a lot for the departed souls. This is what we call fate. Life and death are in the hands of Allah.”

Rehan Rawawala, from Gujrat, India, said he and his wife and two sons completed the ritual with relative ease on Friday afternoon. “Thursday was a difficult day,” he said. “I don’t know how the tragedy happened, but the sun was spitting fire on Thursday. It was unbearable. Still, pilgrims have to carry out their mandatory tasks.”


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