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  1. Zia H. Shah

    Here is the coverage from Times of India:

    JEDDAH: Nearly 2.5 million Muslims, including 1,24,948 Indians have arrived till on Thursday for the world’s largest annual human assembly, Hajj pilgrimage, as Saudi Arabia stepped up preparation for the event which peaks on Saturday.

    Saudi Arabia has completed all preparations for the largest Muslim gathering by mobilising all its resources to ensure the welfare and security of pilgrims.

    “Many of the 2.5 million pilgrims, who are expected to perform Hajj this year, will leave for the Mina valley, located five km east of Mecca, on Thursday evening at the start of the annual pilgrimage. The rest of them will proceed to the tent city Friday,” Arab News said.

    The pilgrimage will peak on Saturday as Muslims gather in the plain of Mount Arafat, on the outskirts of Mecca.

    “A total of 1,24,948 pilgrims have arrived from India. 1,24,882 are in Mecca and 3 pilgrims are in Madina. So far 435 flights have come from India,” Consulate General of India said here on Thursday.

    “As of today 75 pilgrims have expired out of which 63 came through Haj committee and 12 through private tour operators,” it said.

    The majority of the faithful who are performing Hajj for the first time are immensely happy for having gotten the rare opportunity. They repeat the religious slogan: “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (O God, we are here in response to your call).

    This year the pilgrims will enjoy full-scale operation of the Mashair Railway that links the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah. The train service will bring about a dramatic improvement in the transport of pilgrims by carrying more than 1 million faithful during the peak Hajj days.

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