As one of the five key pillars in Islam, Hajj is a requirement for all physically and financially able Muslims to perform at least once in their lifetime. A huge event in terms of mass gathering, the event sees more than two million Muslims from across the world, performing the annual pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca. Also Read - Saudi Arabia Cancels Hajj 2020 For International Pilgrims, Only Those Already Living in Kingdom Allowed Amid Coronavirus Scare

Hajj 2020 began on July 28 and it will go on till August 2. This year, due to coronavirus, only a limited number of people will take part in the ceremony while practising necessary social distancing protocols.

Saudi Arabia said it will allow only about 1,000 pilgrims residing in the kingdom to perform the Hajj this year. As per reports, the decision to curtail the pilgrimage was aimed at preserving global public health because of the risks associated with large gatherings. So, no international visitors would be allowed.

Pictures and videos of mask-clad pilgrims circling the Kaaba as they maintain social distancing are currently going viral on social media. The Kaaba, a large cube-like structure in Mecca’s Grand Mosque is seen by Muslims as the most sacred point on Earth. Watch it here:

During the pilgrimage, Muslims follow a route once walked by Prophet Muhammad, and also follow rites related to the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail. The pilgrims, who have all been tested for the virus, are required to wear masks and observe social distancing during ‘tawaf’.

Here are some beautiful pictures of the pilgrimage which have emerged online:

Those who were allowed to take part this year had to take mandatory temperature checks and were placed in quarantine. Saudi authorities have also set up multiple health facilities, mobile clinics and ambulances to cater to the pilgrims.

Over 2 lakh from India had registered to travel for Hajj in 2020, however, due to Covid-19, the Ministry of Minority Affairs in June announced a full refund of all money deposited by applicants.