In a significant move, Saudi Arabia increased the Haj quota for India for the year 2023 where a total of 1,75,025 Indian Haj pilgrims will be able to perform Haj, reportedly the highest in history.
This announcement comes as part of a bilateral agreement signed between both countries on Monday in Jeddah.
Saudi Arabian Haj and Umrah deputy minister Dr Adelfattah bin Suleiam Mash and Indian Consul General Md. Shahid Alam signed the agreement at the former’s office in Jeddah.
The highest quota for India was in 2019 when 1.4 lakh pilgrims performed the holy pilgrimage. In the following year, the number was reduced to 1.25 lakh, however, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Haj was cancelled that year.
In 2022, Saudi Arabia welcomed 79,237 Indian pilgrims for Haj.
During the Congress-led UPA rule, the highest quota was 1,26,018 in 2010.
Due to quota constraints, many optimistic Indians were left out of the draw system across the country, however, with the highest-ever quota, more Indian pilgrims can perform Haj this year and shrinking the waiting time and widening draw chances.
There was no mention of the cost, however, depreciating the Indian rupee against the US dollar in addition to various cost factors in holy cities, this year, costs are expected to go up.
Women allowed to attend Hajj without a mahram: Saudi Hajj Ministry
The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that Women will be allowed to attend Hajj this year without being accompanied by a Mahram, Haramain Sharifain reported.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has allowed the addition of a companion or Mahram with a Woman as an optional condition.
For those women who add Mahram in their applications, priority will be given to those who have not performed Hajj before, the Minstry said.
Elderly woman pilgrim from Shopian dies in Mecca
A 70-year-old woman from South Kashmir’s Shopian district passed away in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
Haleema Begum, resident of Kaprin Shopian, as per her family was alongside her sister at Mecca to perform Umrah – ‘minor pilgrimage’ undertaken by Muslims to enter Mecca.
The funeral prayers of the deceased woman, the family told GNS, were led by Imam-e-Kabbah, following which her mortal remains were buried in the holy city only.
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Greenery covers Makkah mountains
The images and videos of greenery covering Makkah Al-Mukarramah mountains in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) after weeks of heavy rains, are being widely circulated on social media platforms.
The mountains and lands in various regions were covered in green, an unprecedented phenomenon as the Kingdom is considered a place with a dry desert climate.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Thursday shared a video clip on Twitter and wrote, “The mountains of Makkah Al-Mukarramah are covered in green.”
The Royal Commission for the Makkah City and the Holy Sites (RCMC) on Twitter published images of Mount Makkah in its new green look, and wrote on it, “God beautified Makkah with its mountains, plains and valleys; Which carries a historical, cultural and tourist legacy that makes us show the world the beauty of Makkah Al-Mukarramah.”
It is worth noting that the Kingdom witnessed unprecedented rains, which led to floods, while the Ministry of Education suspended studies several times during the past few weeks.
During the month of December 2022, Makkah Al-Mukarramah witnessed a state of emergency, as the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque announced that it had raised its readiness for rain, and recruited more than 200 supervisors and observers, 4,000 male and female workers, and more than 500 equipment to deal with the rainy situation and dewatering.
The courtyard, chapels, entrances and exits were also prepared after the rains, and efforts were intensified to remove the effects of the rain that fell. In order to preserve the safety of those who visit the Grand Mosque, so that they can perform their rituals with ease.
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