Friday, July 19, 2024

Captain, Crew, Passengers All Women! First Women Only Flight for Hajj Makes History in India

A historic moment occurred when an Indian Hajj flight, exclusively operated by women and carrying only female pilgrims, successfully arrived in Saudi Arabia from the state of Kerala. The Air India Express flight from Kozhikode reached Jeddah with 145 pilgrims on board. The flight was commanded by Captain Kanika Mehra, assisted by First Officer Garima Passi, and supported by four cabin crew members.

At the airport, the women were accompanied by State Minister John Barla from the Minority Affairs department, who distributed their boarding passes. These female pilgrims are part of a larger group of 4,000 Indian women who will be traveling to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah independently this year.

Last year, Saudi Arabia lifted the requirement for female pilgrims to be accompanied by a male guardian (mahram), prompting India to adjust its Hajj policy accordingly. The majority of Indian pilgrims who applied for Hajj in the category of “Ladies Without Mahram” are from the state of Kerala. Around 2,000 women from Kerala are traveling without a mahram, which can be attributed to the high level of education and the prevalence of women from the state traveling to the Middle East to meet their relatives working there. Kerala also has a higher percentage of female Hajj pilgrims compared to other Indian states, with around 60 percent of the total pilgrims being women.

In Kerala, Muslims make up about a quarter of the population of 35 million. This year, approximately 11,000 Muslims from Kerala will be undertaking the Hajj pilgrimage as part of India’s quota of 175,000 pilgrims, and about 60 percent of them are women.

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