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Muslims in NW China region begin annual pilgrimage to Mecca (2)

(Xinhua)

09:21, October 18, 2011

Muslims in Ningxia going for Mecca pilgrimage pray before boarding the charter flight at the airport in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Oct. 17, 2011. The first group of 332 Muslims in Ningxia going for pilgrimage in Mecca of Saudi Arabia left Yinchuan on a charter flight on Monday. About 13,800 Muslims in China, including 2,656 from Ningxia, will go to Mecca for pilgrimage this year. (Xinhua/Peng Zhaozhi)

The number traveling this year is about 200 more than that of last year, he said.

The Mecca pilgrimage, also known as the Hajj, is a Muslim religious tradition that specifies that all able-bodied Muslims who can afford to travel to Saudi Arabia must visit Mecca at least once in their lives.

"The Mecca pilgrimage is my biggest hope in my life. But I could not afford the trip in the past due to financial reasons," said 66-year-old Ma Zhuangyu.

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