- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: Haj becomes pampering time for pigeons
- Date: 1st November 2011
- Summary: MECCA, SAUDI ARABIA (OCTOBER 27 + 30, 2011) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PIGEONS DRINKING WATER/GRAND MOSQUE IN BACKGROUND A PILGRIM FILMING PIGEONS ON THE GROUNDS OF THE GRAND MOSQUE PIGEONS FLYING OVER PILGRIMS NEAR THE GRAND MOSQUE IN MECCA PILGRIMS WALKING AROUND AS PIGEONS PECK ON FEED ON THE THE GROUND PILGRIMS FEEDING PIGEONS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) EGYPTIAN PILGRIM, OSAMA, SAYING: "They are called Mecca pigeons because they are famous for circumambulating around the Kaaba just as pilgrims do." CLOSE OF HANDS OF WOMAN SCATTERING GRAIN FOR PIGEONS WOMAN SCATTERS GRAIN PILGRIM FILMING PIGEONS PIGEONS IN FOREGROUND/PILGRIM WALKS BY MORE OF PILGRIMS FEEDING PIGEONS (SOUNDBITE) (English) PILGRIM FROM PAKISTAN, TASNEEM IZHAR, SAYING: "These pigeons are of Haram Shareef (the Grand Mosque), (they are) very peaceful and we feel happy to feed them." PIGEONS FLYING OVER PILGRIM WOMAN WATCHING PIGEONS EATING KUWAITI PILGRIM COUPLE FEEDING PIGEONS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) KUWAITI PILGRIM, UM MOHAMMAD, SAYING: "The Haram (Grand Mosque) pigeons are a blessing, and they make people happy. Even giving them food is considered an act of charity." SCORES OF PIGEONS FEEDING PILGRIM WOMAN POURS PIGEON FEED ONTO THE GROUND, DROPS THE BAG AND WALKS OFF PILGRIM BUYING GRAINS FROM TWO WOMEN PILGRIM PROCEEDS TO POUR GRAINS ONTO THE STREET (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) RESIDENT OF MECCA CITY, MOHAMMAD KALAKATAWI, SAYING: "Of course, it is a well known that the Mecca pigeons are blessed, from the time of the Prophet. The pigeons feel that no one will hurt them, because it is forbidden to hunt them, so they come close to people without fear. Whereas in other places they flee from people right away." MAN TAKES A PICTURE OF PILGRIMS WORKER SWEEPS THE GROUNDS NEAR THE GRAND MOSQUE
- Embargoed: 16th November 2011 12:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Environment,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA5S6AJ14IXOAZWAQOQNG7DJOAQ
- Story Text: For the droves of pigeons that flock at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia, the annual season of Haj is one of overindulgence.
Millions of Muslim pilgrims that pour into Islam's holiest city, Mecca, regard the pigeons as blessed creatures and take time to dote on them, distributing specially-bought pigeon feed in an act they believe is charitable.
Commonly referred to as Mecca pigeons, the feathered creatures are well looked after in a city where Islam forbids their hunting and killing.
"They are called Mecca pigeons because they are famous for circumambulating around the Kaaba just as pilgrims do," says one pilgrim, Osama, who has made the trip to Mecca from Egypt.
Muslims who have made the pilgrimage circumambulate the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, Islam's most sacred site, seven times in a counter clockwise direction during Haj.
Some of the streets leading to the Grand Mosque in Mecca are covered with bird feed as pilgrims constantly scatter generous helpings of grain for the pigeons.
Many pilgrims pause to take pictures of the birds as others kneel to feed them by hand.
Tasneem Izhar, a worshipper from Pakistan, says feeding the birds makes her happy.
"These pigeons are of Haram Shareef (the Grand Mosque), (they are) very peaceful and we feel happy to feed them," Tasneem said.
Kuwaiti pilgrim Um Mohammad echoes Tasneem's sentiments.
"The Haram (Grand Mosque) pigeons are a blessing, and they make people happy. Even giving them food is considered an act of charity," he said.
Mecca now has a huge population of pigeons, which continues to grow unhindered by locals and visiting pilgrims.
"Of course, it is a well known that the Mecca pigeons are blessed, from the time of the Prophet. The pigeons feel that no one will hurt them, because it is forbidden to hunt them, so they
come close to people without fear. Whereas in other places they flee from people right away," said local resident Mohammad Kalakatawi.
Killing of any animal or bird of game is forbidden during the season of Haj. Pigeons in Mecca have been protected since the early history of the Arab peninsula.
Widely regarded as birds of peace, pilgrims and residents alike take pleasure in doting over the flocks of pigeons that take shelter at the holy city.
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