More than 100,000 Nigerian Muslims are expected to perform the pilgrimage -- known as the Hajj -- to Mecca this year.
More than 100,000 Nigerian Muslims are expected to perform the pilgrimage -- known as the Hajj -- to Mecca this year. Nigeria ranks third among the countries with the largest number of pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for the religious festival.
SYNOPSIS: Thousands of pilgrims, including women and children, are already on their way to Mecca. Many of them are being airlifted from Kano Airport in 12 chartered aircraft.
Before leaving the country, the pilgrims are searched by customs. Many of them have been waiting to leave for several days in the pilgrims' transit camp in Kano. There are many formalities to go through before leaving including inoculations, visas and foreign exchange regulations. So important is the Hajj to Nigerians that the Kano Airport -- only one of two international airports in the country -- is closed during the airlift which takes about two weeks.
The ninth day of the month of pilgrimage in the Muslim calender is the day on which pilgrims bound for Mecca must be in the town of Arafat, Saudi Arabia.
Hundreds of thousands of devout Muslims arrive every year. This year they must be there by the 21st November. Most arrive by land on foot, but an increasing number, like the Nigerians, arrive by air. From Arafat the pilgrims go to Muna to throw stones at the evil symbols. The end of the pilgrimage is the visit to Mecca and the Kaabah, the veiled sacrificial stone of Abraham which stands inside the mosque at Mecca.