Over 28,000 UP Muslims to undertake Hajj this year

By Kulsum Mustafa, TwoCircles.net,

Lucknow: Four flights carrying 1235 Haj pilgrims from western Uttar Pradesh are already in Jeddah. Some 12,000 plus are awaiting their turn to board flights for destination Kaba.

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Of the 28378 pilgrims who are going for Haj this year from Uttar Pradesh 14,500 will be leaving from this airport in the next few days. The first two flight carrying 615 pilgrims took off from Lucknow on October 20. The second two flights with 620 passengers left on October 21.

The Lucknow Amausi airport, which sees periodic rush otherwise has these days turned into a hub of hectic religious activity with excited relatives and friends of these pilgrims collecting at the airport to bid them adieu, a tradition followed by the community. Scenes of emotional goodbyes, last minute directives, rush by relatives to garland the hajis, are giving a totally different color to the airport.

Those embarking on this mandatory religious ritual for a Muslim anywhere in the world are happy that Allah has granted them this opportunity, those coming to wish them pray that they too get the chance to perform haj in their lifetime.

“Hajis from Central UP have been booked into Lucknow flights; those from western UP have the choice of both Lucknow and Delhi while pilgrims from eastern part of the state will catch their flights fromVaranasi. The first flight from Varanasi will be on November 3,” informed Mr. A A Khan, secretary, Uttar Pradesh Haj Committee. Special aarrangements have been made by the Airport Authority of India officials for the pilgrims.

While waterproof tents have been put up at the airport for the halt of these pilgrims and their relatives as the wait maybe for over five hours before all the formalities are over and they can board their flights. Two enclosures, separate for men and women have been demarcated for namaz. There is also arrangement for wazu on the airport. “We are doing our best to ensure that the hajis do not have to face any inconvenience as they wait for boarding their flights,” Amausi airport director, Atul Dikshit told Twocircles.net.

This year the number of application for undertaking the pilgrimage was highly oversubscribed. Against the quota of 1.1 lakh, 3.6 lakh people had put in their papers. From Uttar Pradesh 60, 000 had applied, from Maharashtra 50,000 had applied against the quota of 10,000. In Delhi there was over subscription of eight times while from Lakshadweep it shot up to 15 times.

There is a growing tendency among the young to go for pilgrimage. The old custom of the aged and retired is giving way to more youngsters going for Haj. Young healthy and modern youngsters, both men and women are now coming forward to fulfill one of the five essential tenets of Islam. While the fare hike of Rs 4000 per pilgrim has been condemned by all Muslims the raise in the fare has not dampened the spirit of the Muslim community. “We resent it but it will not come in our way of what is a mandatory thing for all Muslims.” Said Mr. Farooqui from Lucknow, as he got ready to board the flight that will take him to ‘Allah kay ghar’ (God’s house).