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Business News/ News / India/  India's first batch of 381 Haj pilgrims embarks on journey to Saudi Arabia
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India's first batch of 381 Haj pilgrims embarks on journey to Saudi Arabia

The total number of Hajis this year as per the bilateral agreement between India and Saudi Arabia is 1.75 lakh.

The first batch of Haj pilgrims was flagged off by Union Minister Meenakashi Lekhi and Delhi LG VK Saxena. (Photo: ANI)Premium
The first batch of Haj pilgrims was flagged off by Union Minister Meenakashi Lekhi and Delhi LG VK Saxena. (Photo: ANI)

The initial group of 381 Haj pilgrims from India departed for Saudi Arabia for the sacred pilgrimage from the Indira Gandhi International Airport late on Sunday night.

As reported by ANI, the first batch of Hajis was ceremoniously flagged off from the airport by Union Minister Meenakashi Lekhi and Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena.

"For the first time, 4,314 women are going for Haj without a mahram, which shows women empowerment," said Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakashi Lekhi, adding that the Ministry of Minority Affairs has made good arrangements for the Hajis.

The Lieutenant Governor mentioned that approximately 2,600 individuals from Delhi will be undertaking the Haj pilgrimage this year.

During the event, Smriti Irani, the Chief Guest and Minister of Minority Affairs, extended congratulations to the Hajis.

Several notable figures, including Saudi Ambassador to India Shaqli Bin Eid Al Hussaini, President of Delhi Haj Committee Kaushar Jahan, and various other prominent individuals, were in attendance.

Delhi Haj Committee has taken several initiatives for the ease of pilgrims including a special camp to boost physical fitness. "A special camp with a focus on physical fitness was organised for those travelling from Delhi. A fitness camp was held with trainers imparting training including in yoga asanas," a source told ANI earlier in the month.

In order to prevent overcrowding at the Delhi airport, the embarkation point for the Haj pilgrims has been shifted from the airport to Haj Manzil.

On the day of their departure, the pilgrims will be transported by buses from Haj Manzil to the airport for their journey.

Doctors have also been placed at the Haj Manzil for easy medical access and for giving medical certificates that are needed for travel, the sources said earlier. A banking counter has also been set up at the embankment point should the travellers need any foreign currency exchange.

Special arrangements have also been made to take senior citizens among Haj pilgrims to the boarding gate.

According to the sources, a dedicated pathway will be established to facilitate the seamless transit of Haj passengers to the boarding gate.

There has been a notable increase in the number of women undertaking the Haj pilgrimage without a mahram (a male support traveler). Out of the nearly 4,000 women who have registered without a mahram this year, 39 of them are traveling from Delhi.

From about 8000 Haj pilgrims last year from Delhi, the number of passengers who will be embarking on the pilgrimage is thrice the number.

As per the available data, more than 22,000 will travel for the annual pilgrimage this year from the national capital.

In a historic development, a record number of 4,314 women have applied to participate in the Haj pilgrimage without a 'Mehram,' meaning they will not be accompanied by a male guardian who is a blood relative.

The Saudi Arabian government made an announcement in October, stating that a Mehram, who is a male blood relative with whom marriage is not permissible, is no longer mandatory for women pilgrims from any country. This decision has paved the way for women from around the world to undertake the Haj pilgrimage independently.

(With inputs from ANI)

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Published: 22 May 2023, 06:51 AM IST
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