With Saudi Arabia adopting equality of women as one of its motto in hosting the pilgrims, this year’s Haj has become very special for women. Not only this, but the Haj authority is also encouraging Digital India by introducing the Haj app, that will provide all sorts of help to the Haj pilgrims. This was announced by Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed at a press conference along with Consul General Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh to give a brief about ongoing Indian Haj operation in Saudi Arabia.
Largest number of women who are travelling to Saudi Arabia for Haj without Meharam belong to Kerala.
The app will not only ensure smooth Haj operation but is also programmed to receive the feedback and grievances. The app is named Indian Haj Information Service and is designed to help pilgrims go on a hassle-free Haj and to receive their suggestions for the betterment of service. Ambassador Sayeed said that 101 women officials out of the total 625 from various ministries have been deputed on temporary duty to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj season.
“We have set up an exclusive office and dispensary which is manned by lady staff itself for single women pilgrims, above age 45, coming for Haj”, the ambassador added. Also, Saudi Arabian sim cards are being provided to the pilgrims in India itself, which they can activate once they reach the country.
Following a rule modification for the period 2018 to 22, which allowed single muslim women above the age of 45 to apply for Haj, in a bid to empower them, more women have enrolled themselves to go for Haj without a Meharam. A Meharam in Islam is a person in front of whom, a woman can take off her hijaab. A woman’s Meharam can be the person related to her through close blood relations, or the one related to her by marriage or through breastfeeding.
Following this, a number of applications came in for women who would travel without Mehrams. In 2018, 1340 women had applied to visit Saudi without a Mehram. This year, the number has gone up to 2340. The largest number of women who are travelling to Saudi for Haj without Meharam come from Kerala this year too. Last year 1124 woman pilgrims and this year, 86% of women travelling to Saudi without Meharam are from Kerala. Haj is considered to be one of the five pillars of Islam. Every Muslim is expected to perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime, if they can afford to.
Overall, 2 lakh pilgrims are expected to go for Haj this year. Out of these, 1.4 lakh are travelling through government agency HCL and the others are travelling through private Haj operators.
Proper care also has been taken for the health of the pilgrims. Health status and medical condition of pilgrims is being stored online at e-MASIHA (Medical Assistance System for Indian-Hajis abroad) The data will be used to provide proper medical treatment to the pilgrims as they approach Indian medical facilities for any issue.