Why in News?
- Recently, The ministry of Minority Affairs has announced a new Haj policy under which the application forms have been made available for free and the package cost per pilgrim has been reduced by Rs 50,000.
- The Hajj is a religious pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia that is mandatory for all able-bodied Muslims who can afford it.
- It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is considered a central part of Muslim religious life.
- The Hajj takes place during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah and involves several rituals.
- Dhu al-Hijjah is the twelfth and final month of the Islamic calendar.
- It is considered one of the most sacred months in the Islamic year and is seen as a time of renewal, spiritual growth, and reflection, and is considered an important time to strive for greater closeness with God.
- Participating in the Hajj is seen as a way to demonstrate one’s devotion to God and to earn spiritual merit, and it is a source of great pride and inspiration for many Muslims
- Ministry of Minority Affairs is the nodal ministry to conduct Haj pilgrimage in India.
- Haj pilgrimage for the Indian Pilgrims is conducted either through Haj Committee of India (HCoI), which is a statutory organization under the administrative control of Ministry of Minority Affairs or through the Haj Group Organisers (HGOs) dully approved by Ministry.
- Also, the Hajj pilgrimage is promoted by various religious organizations, Islamic cultural centers, and other government agencies.
- India signed the Haj 2023 bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia.
- According to the agreement, a total of 1,75,025 Indian Haj pilgrims will be able to perform Haj, reportedly the highest in history.