HomeLatest NewsGrowing number of Indian women perform Hajj without male guardians

Growing number of Indian women perform Hajj without male guardians

Thousands of Indian women to perform Hajj without male guardian

NEW DELHI: The number of Indian women going on Hajj without a male guardian has increased by nearly 20 percent since last year, the Haj Committee of India said on Tuesday.

With more than 200 million Indians following Islam, the Hindu-majority country has the world’s largest Muslim-minority population. Under the 2023 Hajj quota, 175,000 of them are traveling to Saudi Arabia this year for the spiritual journey that constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam.

The pilgrim breakdown is 51 percent male and 49 percent female, according to Haj Committee of India data, which also shows that the number of female pilgrims is on the rise, especially those traveling on their own.

Saudi Arabia last year lifted a rule that required female pilgrims to be accompanied by a mahram, or male guardian. India tweaked its Hajj policy accordingly in February 2023, and sent 4,000 pilgrims registered in the category for women traveling without a guardian.

“This time 4,665 women are going without mahram, and it was around 4,000 last year,” Haj Committee of India chairman A.P. Abdullakkutty told Arab News.

“It is heartening to see the growing number of female pilgrims every year. This signifies growing female empowerment among Muslim women and their growing confidence. Women are asserting their independence more than before.”

Most of the women traveling alone come from the southern state of Kerala, where Muslims constitute about 27 percent of the population, and Islam is the second-largest religion after Hinduism.

“Out of the 4,665 women going without mahram this time 3,000 are from Kerala,” Abdullakkutty said.

“The reason more women are going from Kerala is because the imams are more encouraging.”

This year, Hajj is expected to begin on June 14 and end on June 19. While the pilgrimage can be performed over five or six days, many pilgrims choose to arrive early for what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fulfill their religious duty.

Hajj flights for Indian pilgrims started on May 9.

At least two of the flights will be run only by women and carry only female pilgrims. Both are Jeddah-bound and scheduled to depart from Kerala’s Kochi International Airport.

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