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Thousands of Indian pilgrims arrive in Makkah to perform Haj

India’s Consul General Md. Shahid Alam, and other officials with Indian pilgrims in Makkah

Wrapped in white robes and wearing  tricolour bracelets thousands of Indians headed for their accommodation located between the Grand Mosque and Aziziah. On Thursday, the pilgrims will start their  spiritual journey in Makkah before heading to Mina – the world's largest tent city – 8 kilometres away.  This will be their residence for the rest of their pilgrimage.

One million vaccinated people, including 79,185 from India, are set to perform this year's Haj–one of five pillars of Islam which all able-bodied Muslims with the means are required to perform at least once in their lifetime. Yogi Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh leads with a total of 8,701 pilgrims while Union Territory Chandigarh was least with 25 pilgrims from India.

The salient features of this year’s Haj for Indian pilgrims are that, for the first time, all Indian pilgrims will be provided a sofa cum bed facility in Mina and also train service in holy sites during the Haj. Unlike previous years when they had to depend on food packets, this year Indian pilgrims would be served freshly cooked meals.

Indian officials have made elaborate health arrangements as this will be the first Haj gathering following the pandemic. Also, Haj is taking place in one of the hottest months of the year in Saudi Arabia

“We have established a separate isolation room in each building. As a result, 188 isolation rooms have been set up to lodge any suspected pilgrims”, said Indian Consul General Md. Shahid Alam. He said that 175 health professionals from India arrived on deputation to serve pilgrims.

The Consul General said that the Indian Haj mission is operating two hospitals with 70 bed capacity in addition to 10 health centres that include one in the vicinity of the grand mosque. The health condition of all pilgrims is being continuously monitored by Indian officials, he said.

Apart from health professionals, 182 other employees who came from India on deputation are assisting pilgrims at various levels. So far, 12 Indian pilgrims reportedly died owing to health issues, according to the Indian Haj Mission.

All Indian pilgrims who arrive in Makkah and after completing Haj will move to Madinah to pray at the Prophet Mosque before returning home.

Also Read: Indians among the first to arrive for the Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia

(Irfan Mohammed is a  Jeddah-based journalist. Views expressed are personal and exclusive to India Narrative)