MECCA, Saudi Arabia | Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:47am EDT
(Reuters) – Adalet Gigek sat impatiently in a crowded hotel lobby, waiting for the minibus to take her to Mecca’s Grand Mosque for noon prayers as millions of Muslims started arriving in Saudi Arabia before the annual haj pilgrimage which starts on Friday.
She has spent five years hoping for the chance to fulfill her duty as a Muslim by performing haj and knows she will not be allowed to go again because pilgrim numbers are strictly controlled to prevent overcrowding.
“Each year for the past five years I checked with the authorities,” said the 66-year-old mother of eight, a rosy pink scarf framing her beaming face. “When I finally found out I was selected I soared with happiness.”