Winter rains aren’t terribly strange in the northern hemisphere, but any substantial rain is strange enough in Saudi Arabia. This year, heavy rains are starting to create problems with the millions performing Haj in the city of Mecca, according to this report from the Associated Press. While it’s unlikely that the rain will be an issue at the Great Mosque, other rituals of the Haj take place in open fields and on hillsides, where it could present serious issues.
Islam’s hajj: rain and fears of swine flu
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Muslim pilgrims circled Islam’s holiest site Wednesday in their traditional white robes, with a few additions _ umbrellas and face masks _ as the opening of the annual hajj was complicated by torrential rains and fears of swine flu.
Saudi authorities have been planning ways for months to inhibit the spread of swine flu during the pilgrimage, which is seen as an incubator for the virus. The four-day event is one of the most crowded in the world, with more than 3 million people from every corner of the globe packed shoulder to shoulder in prayers and rites.
Now they are scrambling to deal with sudden, unexpected downpours that could worsen one of the gathering’s perennial dangers: deadly stampedes.
The excellent photographs at Future Husbands and Wives of Saudis show the terrains involved.