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India, Saudi Arabia sign Bilateral Annual Haj 2019 Agreement

India, Saudi Arabia sign Bilateral Annual Haj 2019 Agreement

India and Saudi Arabia on December 13, 2018 signed the 2019 Bilateral Annual Haj Agreement in Jeddah. Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Saudi Arabia's Haj and Umrah Minister Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten were present during the signing of agreement.

The agreement will go a long way in further strengthening relations, which have attained new heights under the leadership and guidance of Saudi Arabia's King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Centre had, for the first time, lifted ban on women going for Haj without Mehram in 2018. Following this decision, around 1,300 Indian women went for the pilgrimage without any male companion. They had been exempted from the lottery system.

The Haj Committee of India has received more than 2.47 lakh applications for Haj 2019 of which around 1.36 lakh were online, and of the total number of applicants, 47 per cent are women.

The Union minister said for the first time since Independence, a record number of Muslims -- 1,75,000 -- from India performed Haj 2018 and that too without any subsidy.

What is Hajj?

Hajj is a pilgrimage made to Kaaba, the ‘House of God’, in the sacred city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence.

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