Monday, January 24, 2005

Heavy Rain, Flash Floods Fail To Stop Pilgrims From Stoning Ritual

From Abdul Rahman Ahmad

MECCA, Jan 23 (Bernama) -- Heavy rain and flash floods Saturday evening failed to stop Malaysian Haj pilgrims from completing the "stoning the devil" ritual in Mina.

The head of the Malaysian Haj delegation, Datuk Dr Azmi Ahmad, said no Malaysian pilgrim had to postpone or abandon the ritual, with the last of them expected to complete it Sunday.

"Haj operations by Malaysians this year went well, thankfully there weren't any untoward incidents," he told Malaysian reporters covering the Haj.

He said the design of the three pillars for the stoning ritual, and the area around them made bigger and oval in shape, and scheduled times for the stoning ceremony had made the task easier and more comfortable for the pilgrims.

Previously, the cramped space for the ritual had made it difficult for Malaysian pilgrims who had to compete for space with others from all over the world.

Dr Azmi, who visited the Malaysian pilgrims encampment around Mina, found it to be unaffected by flash floods after the heavy rain.

After the stoning ritual, pilgrims head to the Grand Mosque in Mecca for the tawaf and saie which involves the circling of the sacred Kaabah seven times, a march between the hills of Safa and Marwah and drinking of the holy Zam-Zam water.

-- BERNAMA

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