Kaaba adorned in new Kiswa Saturday as world watches

The Kiswa, or the covering of the Kaaba, is replaced annually in a tradition observed for centuries…reports Asian Lite News

One of the most watched ceremonies in the Islamic world takes place this Saturday when the Kaaba is adorned with its new Kiswa.

In a change of tradition, the General Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques will perform the annual event on the night of the new Islamic year of Muharram 1, 1444, or Saturday, July 30.

This marks “a shift from a decades-old custom of replacing it on the eve of Arafat, as per a royal decision issued recently,” said Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the body.

The Kiswa, or the covering of the Kaaba, is replaced annually in a tradition observed for centuries.

For many decades the Kiswa was replaced on the morning of Dhul Hijjah 9, when pilgrims depart to the plains of Arafat. This was usually the time when the Haram was empty, to allow for the smooth replacement.

The new Kiswa will stay in place until Hajj next year.

A team of 200 Saudi technicians working at the King Abdulaziz Complex for Manufacturing the Kaaba’s Kiswa, will carry out the task.

The factory does the weaving, stitching and printing by hand and machines using 47 pieces of cloth and thread. The world’s largest computerized sewing machine, at 16 meters in length, carries out the process.

The cloth is stitched together in five different parts and fixed to the base with copper rings.

Around 670 kilograms of raw silk is dyed black at the complex.

The Kiswa is decorated with Quranic verses embroidered onto the cloth with 120 kilograms of 21-karat gold thread and 100 kilograms of silver thread.

The cost of making a new 850-kilogram Kiswa is estimated to cost SR25 million, or over $6.5 million, making it the world’s most expensive covering.

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