MECCA - The annual five-day Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia known as hajj is officially over.
Khalid al-Faisal, governor of Mecca, announced Sunday the formal end of the pilgrimage at a news conference in the holy city.
Hajj draws people from around the world to Saudi Arabia each year. The crowds, squeezed shoulder to shoulder in prayer five times a day, fill the city of Mecca and surrounding areas to perform a number of physically demanding and intricate rites.
The pilgrimage is required once in a lifetime of all Muslims with the means to go. Its goal is remission of past sins and drawing Muslims closer to God.
The governor said no accidents were reported this year. In the past, construction accidents, disease and stampedes have harmed and killed pilgrims.