Ahead of Eid al-Adha, millions of Muslims from around the world have arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.
The first day of this year's Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca was August 9. Eid al-Adha or Bakrid will be celebrated in India on August 12 (Monday).
Performing Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, a journey that re-enacts the actions of the Prophet Muhammad in his "farewell pilgrimage" in 632 AD.
It is a central pillar of the Islamic faith meant to bring followers closer to God and cleanse their sin. The pilgrimage is obligatory for Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey.
Hajj is a physically demanding journey that Muslims believe offers a chance to begin anew before God. Muslims circle around Islam's most sacred site, the cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca, and perform all rituals that bring about unity, peace and greater humility among them.
During the 5 to 6 days of the holy pilgrimage, Muslims follow the route on which the Prophet Muhammad once walked. They trace the rites of Hajj back to the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail as they are named in the Quran.
Muslims believe God tested Ibrahim's faith when he was asked to sacrifice his only son Ismail. However, when Ibrahim was prepared to fulfill the command, God stayed him and spared his son.
According to Islamic traditions, the Kaaba was constructed by Ibrahim and Ismail as a house of monotheistic worship thousands of years ago. Thus, the Kaaba started attracting pilgrims.
Before visiting Mecca, many pilgrims head to the Saudi city of Medina, where the Prophet Muhammad is buried.
The final days of Hajj coincide with the 'festival of sacrifice' called Eid al-Adha, celebrated by Muslims across the world to mark Ibrahim's test of faith. During the three-day Eid festival, Muslims slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to the poor.
( With inputs from ANI )