Looking through the latest photographs of the Hajj over at Big Picture, what stuck out to me was the sheer diversity of people who visit. I can’t think of any other comparable event that draws that many people from around the world to one spot. Of the other major religions – Catholicism and Judaism certainly don’t, I’m pretty sure Buddhism doesn’t, and I don’t think Hinduism does either.
The range of people leads to plenty of culture shocks:
As we ascended the escalators, a group of African women, barefoot in navy and spinach-coloured gowns and clearly unfamiliar with the sharp, toothy steps, attempted a descent. They clutched the side rails and were dragged on to the treads. They crouched in a surfing pose and tried to ride the escalator as if it were a funhouse floor, until they finally sat down. Noticing their distress, a guard came over and stopped the intimidating contraption. At this point, the women, laughing among themselves, stood and walked down…In the food court, which Abel and I had pictured as one mouthwateringly comprehensive buffet, we ate halal Hardee’s roast beef sandwiches and curly fries.