By our guest blogger, Prateek Arora.
Hajj is largely perceived as one of the five pillars of Islam. The broad aim of performing hajj is to bolster one’s faith in Allah and to redeem and relieve one of his or her sins.
If you are planning to perform Hajj sometime soon, there are certain things that you need to know and provisions that you must make for your sacred journey. Mostly the rules and provisions remain the same, however certain changes might be made by the governments of the germane countries, that are, India and Saudi Arabia
The Hajj Committee of India is an Indian Government controlled and regulated body that works to provide information and assistance to the Indians Hajj pilgrims. Other services include providing discounted air fares, travel services till the airport departure terminal, in India. However, you must note that they only provide their services to the first-time pilgrims.
Hajj visas are free and allow access to Mecca, Jeddah and Medina. The pilgrims obtain their visa on arrival.
For a smooth application and completion process one must keep in mind certain things:
*Readers must note that this is not a complete list. You can avail the full information by contacting the Saudi Arabian embassy or the Hajj committee of India.
- Don’t forget to pack your passport. Your Passport must have a minimum validity of six months and at least two adjacent empty pages for visa
- Carry your vaccination certificates for: meningitis, ACYW135, polio, influenza. Vaccinations may vary depending on the age of the pilgrim
- Carry your recent passport size photographs (at least 2)
- If you are travelling with family, then marriage and birth certificates are mandatory
- Minors (under 18 years of age) cannot travel without a parent or legal guardian.
- Women (under the age of 45) cannot travel without a male companion (either brother, father, husband, or son should accompany her)
Hajj is only obligatory for the financially able. However, it is essential that the money used or invested in the pilgrimage should have been obtained by righteous means or could be a gift or charity.
You must have arranged or are currently in the process of accumulating the required money. But how do you know how much money you require or how do you manage your money before, while and after completing Hajj?
Here is a list of the value of currency in the past 7 months:
|MONTH||SAUDI RIYAL (SAR)||RUPEE (INR)|
Determining the amount required for Hajj actually depends on the person and his or her lifestyle. However, in your estimate you might also want to include shopping expenses, within country travel expenses, money for charity and contingency money.
Currency exchange can be as simple or as complex a process as you make it. There are two ways to exchange currency:
- Financial services-Forex
Another thing that might affect the rate is when you exchange your currency. Exchanging your currency in Saudi Arabia could be a tenuous task. There are two ways of exchanging currency there: banks and money changers. During the time of hajj, the money bank trade currency at higher exchange rates as compared to financial service providers. Also, at the banks, the queues can be overlong and time-taking. Relying on currency exchange abroad might put you in a difficult and helpless position at the time of some unforeseen expenses right after arrival.
It is best advised to undertake the task of exchanging currency before leaving for Saudi Arabia.
Carrying all your money in the form of cash is highly advised against. There are several thefts recorded each year during the time of Hajj, therefore it is best advised to carry your money in an 80:20 ratio, 80 percent card and 20 percent cash.
Forex cards are the easiest way to eliminate risk. Forex cards are prepaid debit cards that are used to pay in the local currency while travelling abroad. Much like regular debit cards, you can withdraw cash from your Forex cards at any ATM. Forex card services are provided by banks and other financial service providers. Forex cards can be either single currency or multiple currency cards. You could purchase any for your travel.
Apart from being a safer way to carry your money and saving you from a prolonged concern for the safety of your money, Forex cards are highly advantages due to a number of reasons:
- Convenient to use. You can withdraw money from any ATM
- Better exchange rates
- The chip and pin technology keeps your money secure
- No extra charges are levied when swiping at Pos counters abroad
- No Dynamic Currency Conversion fee
- Online access provides you a chance at better money management
Where to get a Forex card from?
You can visit BuyforexOnline.com. BuyforexOnline is the first online Forex platform in India. The company further reduces the hassle of having to go to the bank or other providers by delivering the services online at the lowest exchange rates and your Forex cards at your doorstep.
Places to visit
If these places are not included in your package, make sure you take out the time to visit:
- Masjid-e-Haram or Grand Mosque
- Masjid-e-Ayesha or Masjid Taneem
- Jamal-Al- Noor or Mountain of Light
- Mount Arafat
Things to carry
There are a plethora of things that you can carry depending upon your needs. However, here’s a list of necessities to make the task easy:
- Prayer mat
- First Aid kit
- Prescribed medications (carry prescriptions too)
- A valid SIM card (can be bought at the destination itself)
- An informative identity card for the rituals (include name, passport number, contact info, hotel details, health conditions, if any)
- Ihram belt, hajj neck bag
- Clothing and other essentials
Travel smart, travel safe!