Hajj pilgrimage, undertaken by Muslims during Dhul Hijjah or final month of the Islamic calendar, will begin from August 9, 2019. Scores of devotees, from all parts of the world, have arrived in Saudi Arabia's Mecca -- the epicentre of Islam -- to undertake the pilgrimage. Hajj will last for five days, ending on August 13, 2019. Dhul Hijjah Crescent Sighted, Bakrid on August 12 in India, Pakistan & Bangladesh
Significance of Hajj Pilgrims For Muslims
Hajj is among the five important pillars of Islam, along with namaaz (prayers), zakaat (charity), sawm (fasting in Ramadan) and shahadah (Muslim profession of faith which states: "there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad (saw) is the messenger of Allah).
As part of Hajj, men arriving in Mecca's grand mosque are mandated to wear unstitched white cloth which signals the equality of all before Allah. Rituals include circling the Kaaba or the monotheistic house of worship located in the centre of the Grand Mosque.
Hajj pilgrims are further required to walk between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as Abraham (as)'s wife did in search for water for their son Ismail (as). This is followed by a symbolic stoning of the devil at three stone columns.
The importance associated with Hajj in Islam is reflected by the large number of Muslims who apply for a visa each year. Only around two million people are granted permit for Hajj. The quota is allocated country-wise, depending on the nation's Muslim population.
The overall cost for Hajj, per person, climbs to nearly $5,000 for a Muslim based in the United States and around Rs three lakh for a pilgrim from India.
A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013 revealed that only nine percent of Muslims in across 39 countries are able to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage. However, the aspirations of middle-class Muslims continue to rise. Several believers save throughout their lives to afford the pilgrimage before their death. Notably, Hajj is not compulsory for Muslims who are not physically fit to undertake the journey or aren't financially able.