Srinagar: More pilgrims are opting for hassle-free and affordable Umrah packages in Kashmir.
Industry sources said many potential pilgrims are turning to the more economical Umrah due to the rising expenses associated with Haj. The overarching factor contributing to this decline is the inflation affecting the overall affordability of the pilgrimage.
Official figures revealed that 7000 applications were received against the expected quota of 11500 by the J&K Haj committee for pilgrimage this year. In stark contrast, last year witnessed a robust 14200 applications, of which 12067 pilgrims successfully embarked on the sacred journey.
To address the financial challenges faced by prospective pilgrims, authorities advise applicants to consider opting for embarkation from Delhi and Mumbai, as these locations are expected to be less expensive compared to the Srinagar embarkation point.
To further ease the burden on applicants, authorities have made the application process free of cost since last year. This initiative aims to support pilgrims who may later cancel their pilgrimage due to unforeseen reasons and those not selected through the qurra (lottery system).
Data reveal that in 2015, 2016, and 2017, a significant number of applicants (25000 to 30000) submitted their applications for Haj, but only around 11000 attended the pilgrimage. This trend underscores the need for measures to ensure a more accurate representation of committed pilgrims and reduce the strain on both applicants and the pilgrimage process.
As per official sources the application window is open until January 15, 2024, and can be reached at www.hajcommittee.org authorities are hopeful that the combination of free applications and alternative embarkation points will encourage a surge in interest, fostering a more inclusive participation in the sacred obligation of Haj.