Vaccinated Muslim pilgrims residing in Saudi Arabia started their Hajj pilgrimage on Sunday, an annual event strictly curtailed for the second consecutive year over Covid-19 concerns.

Iran Press/Middle East: Tens of thousands of vaccinated Muslim pilgrims circled Islam's holiest site in Mecca on Sunday but remained physically distanced and wore masks as the coronavirus takes its toll on the hajj for a second year running.

What once drew some 2.5 million Muslims from all walks of life from across the globe, the hajj pilgrimage is now almost unrecognizable in scale.

The Islamic pilgrimage lasts about five days, but traditionally Muslims begin arriving in Mecca weeks ahead of time. The hajj concludes with the Eid al-Adha celebration, marked by the distribution of meat to the poor around the world.

This year, only 60,000 Saudis and foreigners already residing in Saudi Arabia are taking part in the Hajj, one of Islam’s five pillars.