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Hajj 2024 Preparations: Kiswa of the Holy Kaaba Raised by Three Meters

Authorities in Makkah have raised the Kiswa (Ghilaf-e-Kaaba), the sacred cloth that covers the Holy Kaaba, by three meters in preparation for Hajj 2024. The lower part of the Kaaba has been covered with a white cotton cloth (Ihram) to protect it from potential damage during the pilgrimage. This important annual ceremony is conducted by specialists from the King Abdul Aziz Complex for the Manufacturing of the Holy Kaaba Kiswa.

The Kiswa, traditionally replaced on the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah, has seen a change in this tradition since 2022. It is now replaced on the first day of Muharram. The black Kiswa, adorned with Quranic verses embroidered in gold-plated thread, is a symbol of immense spiritual importance and respect. The intricate and meticulous process of creating the Kiswa involves the use of 670 kilograms of raw silk dyed black. To enhance its beauty, 120 kilograms of gold and 100 kilograms of silver threads are used to weave the Quranic verses and patterns that embellish it.

The ceremonial raising of the Kiswa marks the preparations for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, ensuring that the sacred cloth remains intact and undamaged by the large crowds of pilgrims. This ceremony is not just a procedural task but a symbol of the reverence and care for the Holy Kaaba, reflecting the deep spiritual significance of Hajj.

The King Abdul Aziz Complex, responsible for producing the Kiswa, is renowned for its dedication to preserving the quality and sanctity of this sacred cloth. Skilled artisans at the complex use traditional methods to craft each Kiswa to the highest standards, maintaining the profound respect associated with one of Islam's most sacred sites.

The Hajj pilgrimage, the world's largest annual human gathering, saw its peak participation in 2012 with 3.16 million pilgrims. However, the COVID-19 pandemic substantially impacted the number of participants, with only a symbolic observance of Hajj allowed in 2020, comprising just a thousand pilgrims. As the global health crisis has been brought under control, the number of pilgrims has gradually increased. Last year, almost 1.84 million pilgrims performed Hajj, and this year, the number is expected to rise even further.

Every year, on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah, the black silk Kiswa is traditionally removed and replaced with a new one. This change signifies renewal and preparation for the influx of millions of Muslims who come to perform Hajj, a "once in a lifetime" journey for many.

The raising of the Kiswa is a crucial part of Hajj preparations, highlighting the careful and respectful measures taken to maintain the sanctity of the Holy Kaaba. This practice ensures that the Kiswa is protected from the wear and tear that could result from the vast number of pilgrims who will touch and pray around the Kaaba during Hajj.

The importance of the Kiswa ceremony extends beyond its practical purposes; it is a reminder of the unity and devotion of the Muslim Ummah. The meticulous process of creating and maintaining the Kiswa reflects the high regard in which the Kaaba is held, symbolizing the spiritual connection that Muslims worldwide share with this sacred site.

The raising of the Kiswa ahead of Hajj 2024 reflects the profound respect and meticulous preparation involved in maintaining the sanctity of the Holy Kaaba. As the number of pilgrims continues to rise post-pandemic, the dedication to preserving this sacred tradition remains unwavering, ensuring that the spiritual journey of Hajj is conducted with the utmost reverence and care.

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