A birds-eye view of Hajj pilgrimage in Kaaba


An Anadolu Agency film crew on Saturday captured aerial footage of more than 2 million Muslims performing the annual Hajj pilgrimage currently underway in Saudi Arabia.

In the footage, pilgrims can be seen circumambulating the Kaaba, the black cube-shaped structure towards which Muslim prayers are directed; visiting Mecca's Grand Mosque, the renovation of which has been temporarily halted; and hurling stones at a symbolic representation of the devil in the tent city of Mina.

The Hajj pilgrimage to the Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina is a religious obligation for Muslims, who are expected to make the journey -- if financially feasible -- at least once in their lives.

Considered the fifth "pillar" of Islam, the Hajj is intended to demonstrate Muslim solidarity and submission to Allah.

The pilgrimage takes place every year from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and final month of the Islamic calendar.

On these five days, Muslim pilgrims converge on Mecca, where they walk around the Kaaba seven times; run between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah; drink water from the sacred Well of Zamzam; stand vigil on the plains of Mount Arafat; and -- in a final ritual -- throw stones at a wall symbolizing the devil.

Pilgrims then traditionally cut their hair and sacrifice an animal -- the meat of which is generally given to the poor -- before celebrating the Eid al-Adha, or "Feast of the Sacrifice," which began on Friday.

Because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the date of the Hajj changes each year on western calendars.

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