More than two million Muslims are on their way to the plain of Arafat in Saudi Arabia, having moved now from Mina as the Hajj rituals swing into full gear.
The tented city of Mina is where pilgrims will be at one with God and where they will return to stone the representation of the devil depicted as huge stone slabs in a ritual in the coming days.
This comes as the pilgrims begin their journey to attain the vital steps towards the status as Hajjis.
Part of that is to sacrifice an animal to commemorate the prophet Abraham’s willingness to give up his son Ismail as an offering to God.
At the last second, Muslims believe God – seeing Abraham’s devotion to him – swapped Ismail with a sheep, hence the slaughtering of animals as part of Hajj.
This all happens at Mina and up to 750,000 camels, cows, sheep and goats are being prepared for sacrifice.
The authorities, trying to be eco-friendly, are using a whole host of techniques to use every part of the animal, from canning and freezing to cold storage.
Butchers from Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Egyptian have gathered as a way to help the process – 18,000 of them along with helpers.
The process will begin at 08:00am local time on Tuesday and for 84 hours those pilgrims, many if not all, will have paid for their animal to be sacrificed.
Camels, goats and sheep
I, too, have offered sadaqa (charity) and an offering. I’m obliged to do so as a practising Muslim but I have to admit I hate the sight of blood, I’m a complete wimp.
Walking through the pens of animals, it was hard to come to terms with the fact that by Friday evening they would be no more.
The camels gazed at me as I poked my camera at them, hoping to catch a stunning shot I could show the family. But the cows just sat looking docile.
It was the goats that seemed to take a shine to me more than they should have and more that we’ll show you in my report.
Needless to say, while I knew they were about to be eaten by millions of people, one little critter decided to get in there first and have a go at me.
Even threatening him with mint sauce wasn’t enough – he wanted my clothes and he got a good taste of them until I managed to shoo him away.
Though feeling rather faint at the thought of sheep dropping en mass, my cameraman insisted I had to stay in the pen with the goats to complete my piece to camera for the channel.
My bosses better be pleased with what they get, for if it’s not being ankle deep in sheep faceas it’s knee deep in Pakistan’s floodwaters.