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Haj reflections

Haj reflections

Siraj Wahab, a journalist with Arab News, gives a rare and personal glimpse of the Haj pilgrimage in Mecca.

December 9, 2008 11:47 by

The India Fraternity Forum has about 900 volunteers in Mina in order to provide assistance during the pilgrimage. The volunteers are Indian expatriates working in Saudi Arabia and they speak a variety of languages. With the support of the World Association of Muslim Youth and the Indian Consulate, these volunteers have been given permission to help at Haj.

They perform roles similar to the Saudi Boy Scouts. In their saffron-colored vests and red caps, they stand out in the crowd. People from the subcontinent easily recognize them and can turn to them if assistance is needed. Each India Fraternity Forum volunteer can be reached through his mobile telephone so it is easy to direct them to go where required. Most of the volunteers are paying their own expenses to perform this valuable service and they must be commended for their initiative.

Another group to be lauded for its initiative is the South Asian Pilgrim Est. From time to time on the streets of Mina, a bright yellow autorickshaw passes by. I have never seen an autorickshaw in any other city in the kingdom, although they are a popular form of transport throughout the Indian subcontinent.

Whether you are rich or poor, in the narrow crowded streets of India and Pakistan, there is no better way to get around than by autorickshaw. Dr. Adnan Katib, chairman of the South Asian Pilgrim Est., told us that a decade ago there was a tragedy in Mina and it was necessary to transport dozens of injured and elderly pilgrims from the Jamrat area.

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