The last group of Tajik Hajj pilgrims – totaling 259 people – is flying to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday, June 23.  They were supposed to leave at 2:50 pm, but a flight delay was announced.

Saudi Arabia’s Manasik Aviation is operating this flight.

Meanwhile, dozens of people have not been included in the haj pilgrims’ list, although they have paid the Hajj pilgrim fee.  

They gathered today morning outside the building of the Committee on Religious Affairs (CRA) hoping to get an opportunity to perform the sacred rite of Hajj in the current season.  They hope to get on an additional flight scheduled for June 24.    

Asia-Plus reporter got in touch by phone with CRA deputy head Farrukhullo Olimzoda, however, having heard the question, he asked to call back in an hour, but after that Asia-plus reporter couldn't contact him at all. 

This year, the government and the CRA have agreed to set the 2023 hajj pilgrimage fee at 59,000 somonis (equivalent to more than US$5,000) per individual, which is 1,520 somonis fewer than the 2022’s cost of 6,420 somonis.

This year, Saudi Arabia has reportedly allotted a quota of 7,000 pilgrims to Tajikistan.  An appropriate agreement on this subject was singed in Arabia Saudi in January this year.

Media reports said on January 10 this year that Saudi Arabia has lifted age limitations and COVID-related restrictions for Hajj 2023.  Number of Hajj pilgrims has reportedly returned to how it was before the coronavirus pandemic without age restrictions.  Saudi authorities have also said that those who have never performed Hajj will be prioritized for the 2023 pilgrimage.

Last year around 900,000 pilgrims were reportedly welcomed to Saudi Arabia’s holiest cities, down from around 2.5 million before the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, an estimated 2.5 million people performed Hajj to Mecca in 2019.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a pilgrimage every adult Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime if they have the means.

Each year, Saudi Arabia welcomes millions of Muslims from abroad traveling on Umrah and Hajj.  Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a pilgrimage to Mecca which adult Muslims must make at least one in their lifetime, provided they are physically and financially able.  The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God.  The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar.  Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year.

Recall, Tajikistan’s Committee on Religious Affairs (CRA) has introduced age restrictions on those who want to perform the Hajj.  For the first time, the CRA introduced age restrictions in 2010.  Only citizens aged 18 to 80 were able to perform the Hajj.  In April 2015, Tajik authorities introduced new age restrictions.  Citizens under the age of 35 were no longer allowed to perform the Hajj.  In 2016, the new age restrictions were instituted raising the age limit for 39 to 40.  The aim of the decision to introduce new age restrictions is reportedly to give older people an opportunity to achieve their dream to perform the Hajj.

In 2011, the CRA designed a new Hajj uniform; men don two-piece suits, while women wear long-sleeved dresses complete with headscarves.  The Tajik Hajj uniform is embroidered with the country’s symbols.

This year, Hajj is expected to begin on June 26 and end on July 1.