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Indian pilgrims set to perform Haj; sofa beds arranged in Mina

Jeddah: Thousands of Haj pilgrims are bracing to take their lifetime dream of performing the holy pilgrimage wrapped in white robes and with Indian tri-colour bracelets on their wrists moving between the Grand Mosque known as Haram and Aziziah, a place they have been accommodated.

The Haj pilgrimage will begin on Thursday in Makkah before the pilgrims head to Mina – the world’s largest tent city – 8 kilometres away from Makkah, where they will stay 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 that all able-bodied Muslims with the means are required to perform at least once in their lives.

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Yogi Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh leads with a total of 8,701 pilgrims while Union Territory Chandigarh was at least 25 pilgrims from India.

The salient feature of this year’s Haj for Indian pilgrims is 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 of packed food, this year Indian pilgrims would be served freshly cooked meals.

Indian officials 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 thus we made 188 isolation rooms to lodge any suspected pilgrims,” said Indian Consul General Md. Shahid Alam.

He informed 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 a capacity of 70 beds in addition to 10 health centres including 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 pilgrims from Telangana arrived in Makkah and after completing Haj they will move to Madinah to pray at the Prophet’s Mosque before returning to Hyderabad from there.

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