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Bhopal latest in the list of embarkation points for Hajis from India

Thursday, October 21, 2010 10:43:34 PM, Pervez Bari,

Bhopal: Bhopal, the capital of central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, emerged on the international air map on Friday evening when the first ever direct Hajj flight to Jeddah took off with 210 pilgrims. Bhopal, thus, became the latest new embarkation point for Hajj pilgrims in India.

Touching and emotional scenes were on display in abundance at the historic Taj-ul-Masajid campus here when with eyes welling-up with tears the near and dear ones bade farewell to their relatives who departed on Hajj pilgrimage on Friday immediately after the Juma prayers from the transit point in four buses to the airport.

The Hajj pilgrims were profusely garlanded and people showered marigold flowers on buses as it trooped out from the transit point of Taj-ul-Masajid campus. People jostled with each other to have a better look of the pilgrims as chaos prevailed.

Leader of the Opposition in the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) Mrs. Sushma Swaraj and Member of Parliament Kailash Joshi flagged off the first batch of Hajj pilgrims from the airport. While Madhya Pradesh Urban Administration and Development Minister Babulal Gaur flagged off the buses carrying Hajj pilgrims from the Taj-ul-Masajid transit point to the airport.

It was the long cherished dream of the residents of Bhopal for a direct Hajj flight which was realized on Friday when a plane load of 210 pilgrims from Bhopal, Sehore and Raisen took off from the Raja Bhoj airport of the State capital at about 6.35 pm, about 85 minutes behind schedule. The inaugural flight will fly pilgrims to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, with a stopover at Ras al-Khaimah (UAE), for the first-leg of their journey to the twin cities of Makkah and Madinah.

The take off marked the maiden international flight from the Bhopal airport, which became the second embarkation point in Madhya Pradesh after Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar airport in Indore for the Hajj pilgrims. A daily flight would take off from here till October 30 carrying 220 pilgrims each. The nine flights from the State capital would carry only 1,980 pilgrims of the total 2,500 plus from the second embarkation point of the State, leaving over 800 pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh, who have been asked to board their flights from Mumbai.

Over 200 pilgrims from Indore and 600 pilgrims from Bhopal have not been scheduled from either of these embarkation points and have been asked to board their flights from Mumbai, the dates of such flights have not been communicated to the SHC or the pilgrims as yet.

Meanwhile, of the 210 pilgrims who boarded the inaugural flight 166 belonged to Bhopal, 18 to Sehore and 26 are from Raisen. The oldest pilgrim to board the flight was Akhter Mohammed Qureshi aged 76 years, while the youngest is 18-year-old Danish from Bhopal.

The select few who became a part of history by boarding the first-ever international flight from the State capital also included Nazia and Umar Usmani of Bhopal. The newly-weds were embarking on the journey to the holy twin cities of Mecca and Medina to perform the Hajj, less than a fortnight of entering into matrimony.

Unlike Indore, the pilgrims embarking on the journey from the State capital donned "Ahraam" (a two piece unstitched garment to be worn while performing the Hajj or Umrah), from here itself. Scholars said the "Ahraam" was required as the flight from Bhopal to Jeddah would cross at least one of the "Meequat" (the five points of entry to the holy city of Mecca) as part of their journey. It is mandatory for every pilgrim to enter the limits of the holy city as a "Muhrim" (dressed in the "Ahraam"), they added.





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