The Hajj is a pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is one of Islam's core religious duties to be carried out by every adult Muslim who is physically and financially able to do so at least once in his or her life. It is believed that performing the Hajj absolves Muslims of past sins and is a journey of forgiveness.
The image above shows a Muslim pilgrim holding prayer beads outside the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Muslim pilgrims pray atop Mount Thor in the holy city of Mecca. The mount houses Thor cave, where Prophet Mohammed is believed to have hidden from his enemies before his migration to Medina.
A pilgrim uses his mobile phone to take picture outside Masjid Al-Haram, the Grand mosque in Mecca.
Pilgrims attend prayers outside the Grand mosque.
Muslim pilgrims stand outside Masjid Al-Haram.
The huge numbers of pilgrims create serious crowd control problems for the Saudi government. Stampedes, diseases and other accidents like fires breaking out are a norm. There are always chances of sectarian violence as well as terrorism activities every year.
The government therefore takes precautions and prepares for all sorts of emergencies as well.
The image shows helicopters flying in formation during a military parade in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Members of Saudi security forces are seen taking part in a military parade in preparation to deal with any unforeseen emergencies.
Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki, the spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry, says some 100,000 security personnel have been deployed to oversee the annual religious event.
Hajj ends with Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice on the 10th day of Hajj. Muslims worldwide celebrate by slaughtering goats, camels, sheep or cows to commemorate the willingness of Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Ismael as an act of obedience to God.