More than 4,300 Indian women pilgrims will perform Hajj without a "Mahram" male companion this year, the largest number since reforms were introduced last year.

Saudi Arabia announced last October that women over 45 are no longer required to travel to the country to perform pilgrimage with a male guardian — a blood relative with whom marriage is not permissible.

India has more than 200 million Muslims and every year tens of thousands of Muslims embark on the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

More than 175,000 slots have been allotted for devotees from India this year to perform the annual pilgrimage.

As many as 4,314 women have applied to go on the pilgrimage on their own.

This is the first time India's Ministry of Minority Affairs has received such a large pool of applications from women pilgrims.

The ministry in an earlier statement said that single women, as well as women in groups, can apply for the pilgrimage. The Indian Consulate in Jeddah will facilitate separate living arrangements for women travelling alone, the ministry said.

The applications will be cleared on priority this week, a statement said.

New Delhi had recently scrapped a “VIP quota” for Hajj, saying this will help open up spots for more pilgrims.

About 500 seats were previously allocated by India's Hajj Committee to people in top constitutional and executive posts each Hajj season.

The ministry has also set up 25 embarkation points and said that it is setting up health desks at all departing airports for coordinating the health needs of the pilgrims during the departure.

The ministry said it will send a team of clinicians during the first week of April to meet medical requirements of pilgrims in Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah, Arafat, and Mina.

2023-03-30T09:03:24Z dg43tfdfdgfd