Millions of pilgrims every year, during the 12th lunar month, make their way to Mecca on what is known as the Hajj. Apparently it is very common for a large number of people to arrive in seemingly good health, but to end the journey taking home a terrible cough dubbed the ‘Hajj cough.’ Measures such as vaccinations, proper hygiene and keeping ones hands to oneself are encouraged so as to prevent the millions of visitors from contracting the cough and other sorts of ailments. Why do so many leave coughing when arriving in good health? And is there a way to best avoid the hajj cough without avoiding the pilgrimage, or at least find relief from the symptoms?
One has to imagine being in such close quarters with millions of other people for an entire month, much akin to the very large Kumba Mela celebration in India. There is no ‘personal space’ to be had, and bathroom facilities are less than desirable over the course of the journey, dust is rampant and breathing space is shared with many new faces. There are many vaccination requirements demanded of those who wish to do the pilgrimage these days, though the hajj cough has yet to be remedied. People are routinely checked for viruses prior to the journey, and though a very small number show up with an infection of any kind, many many more leave with one.
It seems that though vaccinations are emphasized, still the cough persists to incubate. In fact, over 90 percent of pilgrims reported some experience with the cough over their four month experience, 80 percent of which visited the doctor. There must be a better way. There are simple herbal remedies that could be carried along the journey to protect against such infection such as oregano oil and garlic, but there is something deeper.
When traveling among millions of people, it is a good idea to recognize that you are no longer dealing with the same ‘energy space’ you are used to. Others thoughts and emotions are bound to creep into your field and affect not only your thoughts, but the way your physical body functions. Especially on a spiritual journey, such as this one to Mecca, where travelers have come with some deeper purpose of fulfillment in mind, there is bound to be enormous release of deeper issues previously carried by those present.
When one goes on a ‘spiritual journey’ such as the one to Mecca, the Camino in Spain, or many others around the globe, the purpose is for a purification of the spirit. This is the origin and actual meaning of a pilgrimage, otherwise it would just be called ‘a journey’ or a ‘trip.’ There is more to it than that. People are showing up with hopes and intentions to become better, to purify their hearts and minds and to receive healing. So why the outbreak of coughs and other illnesses?
It is an ancient understanding in many cultures, including Indian yogic tradition, that the spiritual purification of a person will undoubtedly trigger physical symptoms of perceived illness and cleansing. Modern day metaphysics points to emotional tensions manifesting in the physical vehicle, and only through ‘facing those issues’ will the problem be cleared. So, as great as vaccinations and even herbal medicine is, in the context of the ‘spiritual pilgrimage’, the pilgrim needs to look at the issues which are surfacing in order to clear the underlying cause of the ailment.
This all may seem contradictory to popular medicine and mainstream ‘scientific views’ though it is not a new nor unproven concept. The real miracles of healing occur in the identification of the cause, which is so often beyond any virus or bacteria. Sure, these things exist, and are happy to live and thrive in the body of those who welcome and host their survival. But in the pilgrim who experiences the cough as do many during Hajj, it is not a foolish idea to examine the heart of the matter and uncover the real reason for the pilgrimage. In this realization, the coughing pilgrim can find relief and the cough could end up being the biggest gift of the trip.
Written by: Stasia Bliss