Ghilaf-e-Kaaba changing ceremony held in Makkah as Muslims perform Hajj rituals

MAKKAH: The annual ritual to change Ghilaf-e-Kaaba was held at Masjid al-Haram in Saudi Arabia where Muslims are performing downsized Hajj due to coronavirus.
According to details, 675 kilogram pure silk and more than hundred kilogram gold and silver have been used to prepare the new Ghilaf that is 50 feet in height and 35 feet in width.
The covering cloth of the Kaaba, known as Kiswa, is changed on 9th Zilhaj every year on the day of Arafat.
Just 10,000 Muslims, all resident in the kingdom, will perform the main ritual of Hajj, Waqoof-e-Arafat from Zuhar to sunset today.
Ash Sheikh Abdullah Bin Suleiman Al-Manea, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars and Adviser at the Royal Court, will deliver Arafat sermon (Khutba) in Nimra Mosque during this year’s Hajj,
Pilgrims will stay in Arafat and offer combined Zohar and Asar prayers. After staying whole day in Arafat, pilgrims will travel back to Mazdalfa to offer Maghrib and Isha prayers together. The pilgrims will spent whole night in Mazdalfa under open sky and will offer Fajr prayer on 10 Zill Hajj, after which they will travel back to Mina for stonning the Satan.
Hajj pilgrims will then shave off heads or trim hairs, to the prescribed level, and then would get off the Ahrams, Hajj cloths, at completion of Hajj rituals.
This year’s downsized hajj may prove to be the safest ever despite the ever-present threat posed by the novel coronavirus.
In past years, pilgrims have faced a host of viral illnesses, with some falling sick, but a raft of measures are in place for the relatively modest number allowed to attend this year.
The hajj is usually attended by upwards of two million Muslims, who converge on the Saudi city Makkah for one of the world’s biggest annual gatherings.
In the past, pilgrims returning home have developed respiratory diseases after mingling with large crowds and staying in cramped pilgrim camps where social distancing was unheard of.
The scene on Wednesday was a vast contrast to that: mask-clad pilgrims performed the “tawaf”, a ritual walk around the Kaaba, in small groups, following carefully spaced routes marked on the white marble floor.
Workers continuously cleaned and disinfected the holy site on Wednesday, in uniforms resembling those of hospital staff.
Pilgrims had to undergo COVID-19 tests before arriving in Makkah and will be required to quarantine afterwards.
Attendees were given elaborate amenity kits that included sterilized pebbles for the ritual Stoning of the Devil, disinfectant, masks and a prayer rug, according to the hajj ministry.
Several health facilities, mobile clinics and ambulances were on hand, the ministry added, available to pilgrims who were required to wear masks and maintain social distance.
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