The Haj Committee of India (HCI) has announced the dates of online registration for pilgrims going for the annual Haj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2024.
Details of registration & pilgrimage
Registrations opened on December 4 and those planning the journey can register online by December 20, 2023. The five-day pilgrimage will start on June 14, 2024. The first chartered flights from India are expected to start on May 9, 2024. Departure flights will continue till June 10 and return flights will be operated between June 20 and July 21, 2024.
Applicants should have passports valid till January 31, 2025, apart from proof of mandatory vaccinations and other documents. In India, people traveling to Saudi Arabia can use the services of the HCI, a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Minority Affairs, or through private tour companies approved by the Ministry under the Haj Group Organisors.
The Haj Pilgrims Social Worker's Group, www.hajpilgrims.in, an organisation that helps and advices pilgrims about itinerary, stay and requirements for the journey, offers help at Haj House near Crawford Market and at other locations like Mumbra, and Navi Mumbai.
"The pilgrims are India's ambassadors"
Shams Chowdhury of the group said that while pilgrims know about the rituals that have to be performed they need guidance about travel formalities and cultural practices. "The pilgrims are India's ambassadors and they are expected to know about immigration procedures, customs rules, and how to use toilet facilities there. We hold training sessions for them before they leave India. The entire pilgrimage process is now online, so many pilgrims need technical assistance," said Chowdhury.
To effectively manage the rush of pilgrims, Saudi Arabian lays down a quota, calculated as a ratio of a country's Muslim population, on the numbers. While only figures for a few countries, including Indonesia which has the largest Muslim population, has been set at 2,41,000, numbers for India, which had sent around 1,70,000 pilgrims for Haj in 2023, is yetto be announced. Pilgrimage through the HCI costs between Rs 3,00,000 to 3,50,000 (inclusiveof flight charges, accomodation, food), while travel charges are higher if the pilgrimage is booked through a private tour operator.