This year’s celebration of Hajj took on a more somber feeling for Saskatoon’s Muslim community following the tragedy in the holy city of Mecca
Over 5,000 Muslims gathered at Prairieland Park Thursday for a short communal prayer to kickoff a day of festivities with family and friends.
“It’s an unspeakable tragedy,” said Matwen Rwazi.
The Saskatoon physician, who immigrated from Pakistan to the United States 16 years ago and later moved to Canada, said the tragedy has touched many local Muslims families.
“People have suffered. They have lost loved ones. We feel for them and it does make the occasion a little bit somber,” he said.
Despite the tragedy, Rwazi said it’s important not to lose sight of what is meant to be a joyous occasion.
“The whole day is for getting to each other, renewing social bonds and friendships and recognizing it’s a day for our children.”
Rwazi himself has completed the religious pilgrimage to Mecca. He said once you get past being in a very crowded place, it is a truly spiritual experience.
“You see people who have no means and still have managed to be there. It was for a me, a very humbling experience.”
Rwazi recognizes more can be done to make it safer for the people that do go there.