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Hajj: The Physical and Spiritual Journey to Mecca
Hajj is a religious duty which all capable Muslims must undertake at least once in their lifetime. It involves both a physical journey to Mecca, the most holy city in Islam, and a spiritual journey toward faith, humility and submission.
The date of Hajj is determined by the lunar Islamic calendar, which is approximately 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, Hajj's date varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar.
Men wear ihram garments — two white seamless cloths wrapped around the waist and draped around the shoulder. Women's ihram garments may be different colors but must cover everything except their hands and faces.
Adherents enter ihram, a sacred state, and don their ihram garments. They then journey to Mecca and complete the following rites:
Tawaf: Pilgrims walk counterclockwise around the Kaaba seven times while touching, kissing or pointing at it.
Sa'ay: Pilgrims travel between Safa and Marwah seven times.
Arafat: At Arafat, pilgrims repent their sins, listen to sermons and seek the mercy of God.
Stoning the Devil: Pilgrims throw stones at a set of pillars (or walls) representing the devil.
Sacrificing an Animal: Pilgrims sacrifice animals or purchase vouchers which see animals slaughtered and their meat donated to the poor.
Removing One's Hair: Pilgrims either shave or trim their hair.
Pilgrims conclude their journey by returning to Mecca and performing a farewell Tawaf.