India introduces 24-hour helpline in Mecca to help Hajj pilgrims
India has introduced a 24-hour helpline service in the Saudi city of Mecca to assist tens of thousands of its pilgrims there for annual Hajj this month.
“The Indian consulate has started a new 24-hour help-line service, 02-5496000 and 02-5458000, at the Indian Hajj mission in Mecca to assist pilgrims,” Indian Hajj consul BS Mubarak said.
“This is the first time that such services have been provided for Indian pilgrims,” he said.
He said all preparations have been made for the Indian pilgrims who have started coming to Mecca for this year’s Hajj, which will start on November 14.
Mubarak said Indian pilgrims will be served three meals a day in Mina and Arafat, consisting of bread, juice and fruit.
The officials said, Indians topped the list of pilgrims who arrived from abroad to Medina with a figure of 26,373, followed by 22,726 from Iran, and 19,605 from Pakistan, the Saudi press agency reported.
Around 1.5 lakh Indians visits Mecca for Hajj every year.
More than 1.5 million Muslims from all over the world have converged on the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in western Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, the world’s largest annual gathering.
In accordance with Islamic teachings, all Muslims have to go to Mecca on pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime provided they are physically and financially able.
The pilgrimage to Mecca is one of five pillars of Islam. It is a journey to a shrine or a sacred place undertaken to gain divine aid, as an act of thanksgiving or to demonstrate devotion.
The pilgrimage takes place between the seventh and 12th days of the last month of the Islamic year.