Hajj pilgrims streamed out of the holy city of Mecca Sunday, launching the rituals of the great pilgrimage that Saudi Arabia is holding in a scaled-down form for a second year to ward off the coronavirus pandemic.
Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, at the start of the annual hajj pilgrimage, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, July 18, 2021.
The pilgrimage to Mecca is required once in a lifetime of every Muslim who can afford it and is physically able to make it, used to draw more than 2 million people. But for a second straight year, it has been curtailed due to the coronavirus with only vaccinated people in Saudi Arabia able to participate.
Saudi police officers form a fence in front of Muslim pilgrims as they pray in front of the rocky hill known as Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, July 19, 2021.