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Massive Muslim Pilgrimage Ends

Muslims pilgrims walk to perform ritual

Muslims pilgrims walk to perform ritual "stoning of the devil" in Mina, in Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007. Thousands of Muslim pilgrims threw pebbles at stone pillar representing the devil in third day of Hajj carrying out a cleansing ritual at a site just outside the holy city of Mecca that has been the scene of disasters in previous years.(AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Wednesday was the final day of the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims who can afford it are required
to make at least once in a lifetime.

Saudi officials estimate that nearly three million Muslims have taken part in this year's hajj, which began Saturday.

The pilgrims hope to cleanse themselves from sin with the rites at Islam's holiest sites. On Tuesday, for a second day, they filedpast three walls symbolizing Satan, stoning each with seven pebbles in a symbolic ritual of rejecting temptation and evil.

Today's final ritual is a "farewell" circling of the Kaaba, the cube-shaped stone structure draped in black cloth that Muslims around the world face during their five daily prayers.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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