An Indian flight made history by operating an all-female crew carrying female pilgrims on a Hajj flight from Kerala to Saudi Arabia. The Air India Express flight departed from Kozhikode and arrived in Jeddah with 145 pilgrims on board.
The flight was led by Captain Kanika Mehra and First Officer Garima Passi, while the passengers were attended to by four female crew members. At the airport, Indian Minority Affairs State Minister John Barla personally handed boarding passes to the pilgrims. The Kerala Hajj Committee Chairman, C Mohammed Faizi, expressed immense pride in this achievement.
These female pilgrims are part of a group of 4,000 Indian women undertaking the Hajj pilgrimage independently this year, without requiring a male guardian. This significant change came after Saudi Arabia lifted the guardian rule, prompting India to modify its Hajj policy.
Among the Indian pilgrims in the “Ladies Without Mehram” category, a majority are from Kerala. Faizi attributed this high number to the state’s educational level and the prevalence of women traveling to the Middle East to visit their relatives working there.
Kerala stands out with a higher percentage of female Hajj pilgrims compared to other Indian states, with women constituting 60% of the total pilgrims. With a population of 35 million, Kerala has a substantial Muslim community, making up about one-fourth of the state’s residents.
Out of India’s allocated quota of 175,000, approximately 11,000 Muslims from Kerala will perform the Hajj pilgrimage this year, and around 60% of them will be women.
The successful operation of this all-women Hajj flight is a significant milestone, promoting gender equality and empowering women in religious journeys. It showcases the spirit of progress and inclusivity, demonstrating that barriers can be overcome, enabling more women to embark on such a sacred pilgrimage.