More than two dozen pilgrims departed from Cape Town International Airport in an emotional send-off that marked the beginning of the Hajj season. The first South African group will reach the holy lands just over a month before the annual pilgrimage kicks off.
“Very emotional scenes as you see families bidding farewell through the traditional Cape Town style,” said Sh. Muntaha Kenny in a live broadcast from the airport.
The departure of 37 pilgrims on Sunday was the first of many more for this year’s pilgrimage. The South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) earlier released a list of 1000 South Africans who had been approved to participate this year.
In what he described as a “well coordinated” send-off, Kenny said Capetonians showed up to bid farewell to the pilgrims. He spoke of a lively atmosphere, with cultural traditions like adhkar and du’a being familiar components.
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SAHUC Chairperson in the Western Cape Mohammad Groenewald was pleased with the send-off. “The first hujjaj are always the litmus test. They’ve mastered this,” he said.
“Cape Town has a long tradition of hajj and the cultural attachments to that. We had all the hujjaj, visitors and families in one corner, reciting dua and adhkar that our community is very familiar with in Cape Town as hujjaj were leaving.”
The next few days will see many more pilgrims depart from the Mother City as well as other airports in the country. A further 103 will leave from Cape Town on Tuesday, followed by 59 on Wednesday.
Groenewald celebrated a largely smooth departure, but implored future pilgrims to comply with luggage restrictions to avoid unnecessary hassle at the airport.
Watch Salaamedia’s full coverage of the first departure here and here.