Hyderabad, June 20 (IANS) First batch of Haj pilgrims from Telangana left for the pilgrimage from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here on Monday.
A total of 373 pilgrims left for Jeddah by a special flight of Saudi Airlines at 5.55 a.m., an official of Telangana State Haj Committee said.
Earlier, around midnight the buses carrying the pilgrims were flagged off by state home minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali and State Haj Committee chairman Mohammed Saleem at Haj House in the city.
The pilgrims began their journey with enthusiasm amid chanting of ‘Talbiyah’, a special prayer invoked during the Haj. Emotional scenes were witnessed at Haj House as scores of relatives, friends and well-wishers bid adieu to the pilgrims.
The first flight had 211 pilgrims from Hyderabad and the remaining were from seven other districts.
This is after a gap of two years that pilgrims from India are performing Haj. Saudi Arabia had not allowed pilgrims from other countries in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 pandemic.
About 80,000 Indian pilgrims will be performing Haj this year. The Haj quota this year has been reduced in view of Covid protocol.
Telangana has been allocated a quota of 1,822. About 5,000 pilgrims from Telangana had performed Haj in 2019.
Officials said this year a total of 3,016 pilgrims including pilgrims from some districts of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra would depart from Hyderabad through Saudi Airline flights.
Like in the previous years, Haj House was turned into embarkation point for the pilgrims. The Haj Committee made all the arrangements including food and accommodation for the pilgrims who had reached there from various districts of Telangana.
Various departments provided services like customs clearance, checking of baggage and provision of currency exchange under one roof.
One of the five pillars of Islam, Haj is annual pilgrimage to holiest city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Haj is mandatory for at least once in lifetime for all Muslims who are financially and physically capable of undertaking the journey.
Haj pilgrimage this year will commence on July 7 and continue through July 12, corresponding to the 10th of Dhulhijjah, the last month of Islamic calendar. The final date will be decided upon sighting of the new moon of Dhulhijjah,