Preparations for Hajj
It’s difficult to imagine that it’s been such a long time since this trip really began. It’s been almost a year since we started talking about making the trip and then it finished just over a week ago. In total- one year!
We were part of quite a large group of Malay people so we contacted the travel agent very early. My father went up to the mosque at Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm after New Year to talk to the people at Hadj och Omra Resor. We got the application forms for the Saudi Hajj Visa and were told to get vaccinated and attach proofs of vaccination and passport photos. After that the application fee had to be paid. The whole trip should be paid during Ramadan, but before that payments were made in a step-wise manner.
There were two packages on offer and the more expensive one landed at close to 50 000 SEK. The differences between the two packages were reduced number of people to share rooms with and a hotel closer to the mosqus in Mecka and Medina after Hajj. The price difference was a couple of thousand crowns, but we felt that the perks were worth it. If we are already going to spend a lot of money, why not get the premium one and be satisfied instead of regretting not putting out the cash once arrived?
The package included a quick course on Umra and Hajj, given as 2-hour lectures in the mosque over three consecutive Saturdays. They tried to stream the lectures live over Facebook. I thought it was a great idea, until I got sick the second week and had to stay home and follow the streaming. It worked great the first 15 minutes, but then the transmission paused until the final Q & A session. Needless to say, I didn’t get much out of that session. Luckily, there was Youtube, so I got the information covered during the session anyways. The session I did attend were really good and the opportunity to ask questions was golden. The final session was the one where we got our passports back with the vaccination book stapled to it and the VISA pasted into one of the pages. At the end of the session we also got a bag each with a purple scarf for the ladies and Ihram-clothes for the gents.
I will continue to write about the trip itself in later posts.