Photos by Newsha Tavakolian (2008): www.newshatavakolian.com
Each year, over two million Muslims head to the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to make the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
SMSTEXTMSG: "Please forgive me if I have done you wrong in any way. I'm going on Hajj."
If a Muslim gets to go on the holy pilgrimage to Mecca, he or she should ask all family members and friends for forgiveness, which I did via text message after I was granted visa to take pictures there. Not soon after people came round bringing essentials for the trip. My aunt game me prayer beads, my cousin made me a white dress, which is the customary color during the Hajj. "Don't push people when it's busy," an uncle told me. "Don't talk , just pray and read the Koran," said the wife of my cousin. There were a 100 replies: "please pray for me"..."ask God to help me find a nice wife, a house, restore my health" and many more...
Helicopter view of the Grand Mosque and the holy Ka'aba
Ghassan, a Saudi officer, looks at Muslim pilgrims while they pray at the birthplace of prophet Mohammad at the Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest shrine in Mecca.
Muslim pilgrims going to prayers at the Grand Mosque in Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Female pilgrims praying in their tent
Muslim pilgrims praying in the streets of Mecca.
"We are dealing with a limited capacity, where Mecca and the holy sites near it can handle no more than two million people," said Major Gen Mansour Turki, Director of the Hajj Affairs Department.
Pilgrims shave their heads as part of the required custom for men during Hajj
A family picture next to the Grand Mosque
Every year they are building more hotels around the Grand Mosque.
A female pilgrim takes a ride on a decorated camel so her family members can take souvenir pictures.
On my return home, my family organized a special party, called "Valimeh."
This is a traditional way of formally greeting pilgrims back from Hajj. New pilgrims can now be referred to by their honorary title "Haji." Everybody came to my parents house bringing gifts.
See complete high resolution photos in this series (Hajj) and other series on Newsha Tavakolian's web site: www.newshatavakolian.com
About: Newsha Tavakolian has been working as a photographer for Iranian press since she was 16. In 2002 she started to work internationally covering Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen...
Her pictures have been published in Time, Newsweek, Stern, New York Times magazine and Le Figaro, NRC Handelsblad in the Netherlands...
In 2003 Newsha was runner up in the Picture of
the Year award, magazine feature.
In 2006 she was selected for the World Press Photo Masterclass. Also in 2006 Newsha won a National Geographic Society Award.
In 2007 Newsha became a finalist of the Inge Morath award from Magnum
She is represented by Polarisimages.
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