Jeddah: Indian authorities are working on a war footing to complete arrangements ahead of Haj 2023.
The first Indian Haj is expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia on May 21, according to Md. Shahid Alam, Indian Consul General in Jeddah.
He said on Sunday that a team of the Ministry of Minority affairs is in Saudi Arabia to inspect the proposed facilities for the Haj.
The Indian official said that an exclusive women hospital will be set up for Indian women pilgrims. The hospital will be manned by all women starting from paramedics to doctors.
In another significant move, more than 4000 single women known as without Mahram will be performing Haj this year, Shahid Alam added.
The Government of India is paying special attention towards care of the single women haj pilgrims.
1.4 lakh pilgrims would be performing Haj through Haj Committee of India and another 35,000 will come through private tour operators, he said.
The Consul General added that since there is no age restriction unlike last year, more elderly pilgrims are expected to come for Haj.
ANI adds: For the first time in the history of Haj pilgrimage, 4,314 women have applied to go on the pilgrimage without a ‘Mehram’ or male guardian with blood relation, said sources in India’s Minority Affairs Ministry.
The Saudi Arabian government, in October, announced that Mehram — a male blood relative with whom marriage is not permissible — is no longer required to accompany a woman pilgrim from any part of the world. The applications will be cleared on priority by the Ministry and Haj travel pilgrims list will also likely be cleared by Friday, the sources added.
This is the first time that the Ministry of Minority Affairs has received such a large pool of applications from women above the age of 45 years who wish to travel for the Haj pilgrimage without any male guardian, as per ministry sources.
(Irfan Mohammed a journalist based in Jeddah who writes for India Narrative)