MAKKAH – Indicating the start of this year hajj season, Saudi officials raised ka`bah kiswa (special decoratedgarment), on Wednesday, August 9, as a precautionary measure to prevent people from damaging it during pilgrimage season.
The kiswa, in the previous years, was normally raised on the first day of Dhul Hijjah as an announcement of the advent of the rite and an indication of the beginning of the holy days, Arab News reported.
“With a decrease in the number of pilgrims, the date of raising the kiswa was put forward, as the numbers were very few and it was difficult for many pilgrims to come in those years,” Dr. Muhammad Bajouda, director of the King Abdul Aziz Complex for the Kaaba, said.
But with the improvement of economic conditions and means of transport, the date was changed to the middle of Dhu’l-Qi’dah.
The procedure of raising ka`bah kiswa is usually taken as a precaution to preserve it when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrive Makkah for hajj.
“The kiswa is raised from the mataf, the equivalent of three meters out of the 14-meter height of the ka`bah. Eleven meters remain covered until the 12th of the month of Muharram,” Bajouda said.
This period passes by changing this cover once a year, during the Hajj season, on the morning of the day of Arafat, the ninth of Dhul Hijjah, to return the covering of the Kaaba until the 12th of Muharram.
“On the eighth day of the month of Dhu Al-Hijjah every year, the 52 gilded parts are removed,” he said.
Muslims from around the world pour into Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj consists of several rituals, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family, may Allah’s peace abd blessings be upon them.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.
Hajj is officially expected to fall this year between August 30 and September 4, with the climax falling on August 31 when the faithful descend the Mount `Arafat.
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