Bangladeshi women pilgrims have lauded Hajj operations in Saudi Arabia, describing their experience so far as smooth while thanking authorities in the Kingdom for treating them with care and kindness.
Bangladesh is sending about 125,000 individuals for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, more than double the quota it received last year, when it was 60,000. This year, over 35,000 pilgrims will be women.
Hajj flights from the country commenced on May 21 and with Hajj expected to begin on June 26, over 57,000 Bangladeshis have already arrived in Saudi Arabia.
As they continued their spiritual journey, Bangladeshi women told Arab News they were delighted by the thoughtful attention they received in the Kingdom.
For Eva Haque, such treatment was extended to her as soon as she landed in Saudi Arabia, when she found herself unwell.
“I was hospitalized for one day. As a Hajj pilgrim, I received very special care from all the doctors and nurses at the hospital. They took care of me as though I were one of their closest family members,” the 43-year-old said.
Following treatment, she felt fit to start following Hajj rituals. Haque, who is from Dhaka, believes the pilgrimage will be good for her well-being.
“My health has not been good for the last two years, so I intended to perform the holy Hajj this year as I believe it will bring mental peace and heal my pains,” Haque said.
“I will never forget the hospitality and cordial behaviors of the hospital staff. They made me feel like I was home. Words are not enough to convey my gratitude.”
That Saudi hospitality was also felt by Umm Kulsum, a 64-year-old pilgrim from the Sylhet district in northeast Bangladesh.
When she became lost trying to reach her hotel last week, Kulsum said a Hajj volunteer in Madinah helped her find her way back.
“Seeing me in a puzzled situation suddenly, a volunteer came to help me. I was able to mention my hotel name and the volunteer assisted me to reach the hotel gate easily,” she said. “I pray from the core of my heart for the well-being of that young man.
“I am amazed to see the management here. It’s a herculean task, but people here with the management are so well-trained that everything is running very smoothly.”
In moments when women need specific care and attention, Shehnaz Begum said she saw Saudi authorities addressing the issues subtly, while also keeping the women’s comfort in mind.
As she is traveling with her youngest son this time around, Begum said she might consider going solo for her future pilgrimage.
“Maybe, in my next pilgrimage, I will travel alone as the Kingdom now allows single women to perform Hajj without their male guardians,” she said.
Like many pilgrims who had waited years to perform Hajj, Begum found herself unable to hold back tears when she arrived in Madinah.
“By the grace of the Almighty, I have landed in the Holy Land after waiting so many years,” Begum told Arab News. “Thousands of devotees from different countries of the world are walking side by side, offering prayers together. But everything remains peaceful here. It’s like a celestial moment on Earth.
“I must thank the Kingdom authorities for managing this great task in a smooth way.