Pilgrims from Kerala who went for Haj under government supervision this year began their return journey on Friday.
The first batch of Hajis returned to Karipur on Friday afternoon. Saudi Arabian Airlines brought back 300 pilgrims on its first Haj flight, which landed at Karipur at 12.30 p.m.
A team of Haj officials under the leadership of Haj Committee chairman T.M. Bapu Musliar received the pilgrims at the airport. Among them were K. Mohammedunni Haji, MLA, and E.C. Mohammed, assistant Haj secretary.
The pilgrims expressed gratitude for the travel arrangements put in place by the Haj Committee. They said excellent transport arrangements had been arranged by the Saudi authorities at Makkah. Although the flight reached the airport 40 minutes early, the pilgrims’ exit from the terminal was delayed because of the delay in baggage clearance.
However, Haj volunteers helped the pilgrims by bringing the baggage to them outside the terminal building.
The pilgrims collected their Zamzam (holy water) from the airport. Unlike previous years, the pilgrims did not have to bring Zamzam along with them from Makkah.
The Haj Committee had made arrangements with Saudi Arabian Airlines to bring the Zamzam in bulk and supply it to the pilgrims on their return at the Karipur airport.
As many as 8,830 pilgrims went to Makkah under government supervision via Karipur this year. More than 60 per cent of them were aged above 70 years. As many as 10 of them died in Saudi Arabia at different times during the pilgrimage.
Saudi Arabian Airlines is to operate 30 chartered flights to bring back the 8,830 pilgrims, including 313 pilgrims of Lakshadweep and 71 of Mahe.
The second flight will reach Karipur at 7.40 a.m. on Saturday carrying 250 pilgrims.