In the recently conducted draw of lots for selection of Haj pilgrims, as many as 177 applicants from Coimbatore and Tirupur and 34 from the Nilgiris have been chosen for undertaking the pilgrimage.

The Ministry of External Affairs had sanctioned permission for 1.19 lakh pilgrims through the Haj committee and for 45,000 pilgrims through private operators, said M.I. Mohammed Ali, general secretary of Coimbatore District United Jama-ath.

The new rules brought in by the Saudi Government that a pilgrim could undertake a trip only once in five years had resulted in steep fall in the number of applicants, providing chance for the first time applicants.

A total of 11,765 applications were received from aspirants in Tamil Nadu.

Going by the surplus quota allocated for the States such as Assam, Bihar and West Bengal and 2001 population census of Tamil Nadu, as many as 3,637 persons from Tamil Nadu were provided with the chance for Haj pilgrimage.

Under the special category i.e., those who had unsuccessfully applied for four times and those aged beyond 70, as many as 936 persons got the opportunity from Tamil Nadu. As many as 2,701 persons were chosen from Tamil Nadu in the draw of lots conducted district wise.

In the event of any clarifications required on the further procedures and new travel rules, prospective Haj pilgrims could contact 94437-77337.

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