Muslims' Greatest Festival, Hajj
Hajj, the greatest festival of the Muslim world is just around the corner. Comprising of 5 days of prayers and devotion, the pilgrimage of Hajj is considered to be the world’s greatest gathering of people. Every year, millions of people make this journey, to get their body and soul cleansed. Those that are financially capable are required to embark on the pilgrimage as Hajj is one of the 5 basic pillars of being a Muslim. The less fortunate, however, are pardoned until they can. Starting from the 8th to end at the 12th Dhu al-Hijjah, according to the lunar calendar, the pilgrimage of hajj is awaited by many and is considered to be an honor among the Muslim community.
The journey starts with the commencement of Ahram which are the basic clothes that all pilgrims adorn, to show equality. Along with this, the intention for the pilgrimage is made which enters the Muslim into the sanctuary of the Ahram. From now on, the rules and restrictions of the Ahram call to be followed till the 3rd day of the breaking of the Ahram, signified by Eid UL Adha. Just like this, the journey begins. The first stop of these pilgrims is the holy mosque in Makkah where they offer prayers and perform the necessary parts of pre-Hajj requisites.
On the first day of the journey, the pilgrims start their quest by first going to Mina where they set camp and spend the day, the next day is the day of Arafat, where all the pilgrims gather in one big landscape called the Arafat meadow to listen to sermons and prayers. Continuing on, the same day, the pilgrims have to leave the meadow before sunset and plow on to Muzadalifah, which will be their resting place for that night. Here, the pebbles for stoning the devil are gathered before giving way to the pleasures of sleep under the starry sky.
Early the next day, the pilgrims have to trek back to Mina in order to perform the popular stoning of the devil. Once this is done, the pilgrims set about the animal sacrifice and cutting of hair, which is a necessary obligation in order to break the Ahram. This marks the Eid UL Adha, which is celebrated not only on the holy grounds but all over the world. The following two days after this are spent stoning the devil, after which comes the time to bid the final farewell at the holy mosque again. Having done all this, the pilgrimage that seemed like a mountain, once, is over all too soon.
With the pilgrims returning to their homes, there is a certain thrill going about the relatives and family. As the day of the arrival comes, these close friends and loved ones’ flock to the airports with garlands of flowers and sweets to celebrate the completion of the pilgrimage. These pilgrims are deemed nothing short of a hero and as an honor are presented with the name 'Haji' to attach to their first name. For any Muslim, performing this pilgrimage is the ultimate dream. Many would sacrifice a lot, to have their name begin with ‘Haji' too.