For many pilgrims, hajj ritual is wrenching experience

For many &to=' target=_blank>Muslim pilgrims, it's a soul-wrenching experience _ a chance to spite the devil and beat back his temptations. Tens of thousands pelted three pillars representing Satan with stones, even shoes, on Wednesday in a final ritual of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

Among the tens of thousands of faithful mobbed around the pillars, Abdullqahar Amin _ a pilgrim from India _ picked stones the size of walnuts out of a plastic sack and hurled them with a joyful vigor.

One by one, Amin, dressed in white robes, threw seven stones at each pillar, and afterward the thrill at having defeated sin was visible on his face.

"This is a battlefield, and you are here to shoot to kill," he said.

The stoning ritual _ which was in its second of three days Wednesday _ is a physical, tangible way to symbolize what some pilgrims say is a more internal struggle.

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