Obligatory only for those who can afford it financially as well as physically, Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is the fifth and final pillar of Islam. Liable to be performed at least once in a lifetime, it occurs annually in the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah but with the raging of the coronavirus currently, Hajj for this year stands cancelled. Also Read - UP Govt Caps COVID Treatment Cost in Private Hospitals; Check Rates Here

A huge event in terms of mass gathering, the pilgrimage sees more than two million Muslims from across the world, dressed in simple white clothes, performing the annual pilgrimage for 10 days in the holy city of Mecca. A statement by the official Saudi Press Agency citing the Hajj ministry of Saudi Arabia said, “It was decided to hold the pilgrimage this year with very limited numbers … with different nationalities in the kingdom.” Also Read - Amitabh Bachchan COVID-19 Positive Health Update: Hospital Says He's Stable

The Hajj ministry’s statement shared, “This decision is taken to ensure Hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventative measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect human beings from the risks associated with this pandemic and in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings.” Also Read - Coronavirus in Delhi: Capital Witnesses Steep Decline in Active COVID-19 Cases

After reportedly receiving a phone call from Saudi Arabia’s Haj and Umrah minister Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten, who suggested to not send pilgrims from India for Hajj this year, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “We have decided that Haj pilgrims from India will not be sent to Saudi Arabia for Haj 2020. Application money of more than 2.3 lakh pilgrims will be returned without cancellation deductions through direct transfer.”

Hajj 2020 will be held from July 28 to August 2. The annual pilgrimage will take place this year only for those already living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.