More than 150 Tajik Hajj pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia on June 20

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Tajikistan’s privately owned air carrier Somon Air is expected to operate 23 flights to carry Tajik Hajj pilgrims to Jeddah.

According to Tajikistan’s Committee on Religious Affairs (CRA), Saudi Arabia has allotted a quota of 3,562 pilgrims to Tajikistan who will be able to perform the annual Hajj ritual this year.

This year, the cost of the Hajj for Tajik Muslims has been raised from 3,750 U.S. dollars to 5,350 U.S. dollars.

The CRA says the cost increase has resulted from an increase in prices for a number of services offered in Saudi Arabia. In 2019, a hajj pilgrim paid US$236 for services in Mina and Arafat, while this year, the host has reportedly increased the cost to US$1,424

Only citizens aged 40 to 65 are able to perform the Hajj this year.

As far as age restrictions are concerned, the CRA for the first time introduced age restrictions on those who want to perform the Hajj in 2010. Only citizens aged 18 to 80 were able to perform the Hajj.

In April 2015, Tajik authorities introduced new age restrictions. Citizens under the age of 35 were no longer allowed to perform the Hajj.

In 2016, the new age restriction were instituted raising the age limit from 35 to 40.

The aim of the decision to introduce new age restrictions is reportedly to give older people an opportunity to achieve their dream to perform the Hajj.

In 2011, the CRA designed a new Hajj uniform; men don two-piece suits, while women wear long-sleeved dresses complete with headscarves. The Tajik Hajj uniform is embroidered with the country’s symbols.

Meanwhile, Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced in a statement on April 10 that the Kingdom would host a million Hajj pilgrims this year. Usually, about 2.5 million people took part in this world's largest religious gathering.

The pilgrimage, which will take place in July, will be limited to vaccinated Muslims under age 65, the statement by the Saudi of Hajj and Umrah said.

Those coming from outside Saudi Arabia, who must apply for hajj visas, will this year also be required to submit a negative Covid-19 PCR result from a test taken within 72 hours of travel.

Each year, Saudi Arabia welcomes millions of Muslims from abroad traveling on Umrah and Hajj. Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a pilgrimage to Mecca which adult Muslims must make at least one in their lifetime, provided they are physically and financially able. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God. The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year.

Source: Asia-Plus