Hajj-package for pilgrimage to Mecca will cost $3,700 in 2011, which is $300 more expensive than last year, Tengrinews.kz reports. Investment foundation Hajj Fund of Kazakhstan explained the raise in price with an increased cost of hotel accomodation, transfer and flights. 38 percent of the total sum goes on payment for the hotel.
The amount includes the flight, hotel, transfer (trips to Medina, Kaaba sacret place in the Masjid al-Haram mosque and Arafat valley), accommodation in a tent camp, food two times a day, purchase of a sacrifice animal, medical insurance, and special blue vests distinguishing Kazakhstan from other countries.
This year Muslims of the whole world will gather in Mecca on November 6. Eid al-Adha sacrifice holiday will be celebrated the same day. It is a part of Mecca pilgrimage. It is normally observed in Mina valley close to Mecca on the 10th day of the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar and lasts for 3-4 days.
According to chairman of the Islamic investment foundation Hajj Fund of Kazakhstan Askar Aitkozha, this year Kazakhstan has fully filled the quota of 4,000 pilgrims provided by Saudi Arabia. It is wrong, however, to say that the number of pilgrims is growing in Kazakhstan, the expert said. Stable growth of pilgrimage to Mecca is seen everywhere in the world. As per official data of 2011, there are 4 million pilgrims. The situation in Kazakhstan is changing all the time, i.e. there is different amount of pilgrims every year. “Last year there were 3,300 pilgrims. In 2009 their number decreased because of crisis and made 2,500 people. 3,500 pilgrims went to Mecca in 2008. The results of 2011 are equal to 2007, when there were 4,000 pilgrims from Kazakhstan going on Hajj,” Aitkozha said.
According to the rules, Hajj can be done only at a person’s own expense and if it doesn’t cause any problems to the family. Besides, there are certain sanitary-medical requirements to pilgrims, as well as age limitations: Mecca can be visited by pilgrims not younger than 13 and not older than 67. Women have to be accompanied, sales, smoking and close relations with spouses are forbidden.
Pilgrims normally fly to Saudi Arabia from Kazakhstan 15 days in advance. Upon arrival the believers will visit Kaaba, go to Arafat valley and then go to Mecca.
By Zhuldyz Seisenbekova