With a motive to spread the message of harmony and brotherhood, more than 2,000 Indians are providing selfless services to millions Haj pilgrims from all over the world who have gathered in the holy city of Mecca, forming the largest expatriate volunteer group.
Wearing blue T-shirts and the saffron-coloured jackets, these volunteers from different Indian social, cultural and religious forums were seen in action at the holy sites of Mina and Arafat during the first four days of Haj.
The volunteers belonged to forums such as the Jeddah Haj Welfare Forum, India Fraternity Forum, the Indian Pilgrim Welfare Forum, Haj Cells of the Kerala Muslim Cultural Center, Risala Study Circle and the Indian Dawa Center.
"The credit for fielding the largest number of volunteers goes to India Fraternity Forum, which has been serving the pilgrims since eight years. Tipped as the most organised among the groups, IFF fielded a total of 1,200 volunteers, including 32 women and 24 students," the Saudi Gazette newspaper said.
"These expatriate volunteers, who belong to different states of India, come from various corners of Saudi Arabia after getting the best ever training in field voluntary work.
"Some 72 teams have been assigned for field work while 34 teams served elderly and sick pilgrims in their tents, in addition to 40-member special team deployed at Mashair train stations," the paper said.
"We are getting full support from the Indian Haj Mission... This serves as a big boost to the morale of our dedicated volunteers," said Ahmad Kutty, media coordinator of IFF Haj Service, which began with 30 volunteers in 2005.
Jeddah IFF President Ashraf Morayur said the timely action on the part of one of their volunteers saved one pilgrim who almost got stuck in between a train and its automatic door.
KMCC Haj Cell has mobilised more than 1,000 volunteers.
Ahmed Palayatt, President of KMCC Jeddah Central Committee and General Convener of the Haj Cell, said their volunteers distributed rice soup for nearly 1,00,000 pilgrims during the last four days of Haj.
The annual Haj pilgrimage has so far been incident-free. 41 Indian pilgrims were reported missing as compared to 300 last year, the Indian Consulate in Jeddah said.
"Five pilgrims died on Tuesday (October 15). One has been buried while four cases are under burial process," it added.
The Haj pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam that should be performed at least once in lifetime by every Muslim who is financially and physically capable. This year, the pilgrimage started on Sunday and ends tomorrow.
About 1.5 million pilgrims, including over 136,000 Indians, are performing the Haj this year.
(With inputs from PTI)