Royal audience to haj pilgrims DC
By Rokiah Mahmud

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha yesterday consented to grant separate audiences and received 'Junjung Ziarah' from the intending pilgrims who will perform their haj this year.

The ceremony was held at the Istana Nurul Iman. This year a total of 1134 haj pilgrims comprising 563 males and 571 females will leave Brunei for Saudi Arabia to perform their haj.

Prior to the 'Junjung Ziarah', the intending pilgrims enjoyed an array of delicacies for lunch and performed mass Zohor prayer at the surau of Istana Nurul Iman.

At the male section, His Majesty received greetings from the male pilgrims. In another section of the Istana Nurul Iman, Her Majesty received greetings from the female pilgrims. Also present were HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah and HRH Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah.

The intending pilgrims expressed their gratitude, felt very blessed and were touched by His Majesty's care and concern in providing haj fares allocated by His Majesty's Government as well as to Muslim converts (Muallaf).

Recently, His Majesty had consented to grant top-up subsidy to some of the eligible intending pilgrims to ease their financial burden and offset the increase in haj fares. The Government of His Majesty will subsidise $600 for every eligible adult and $475 for every child.

In ensuring the welfare, health and comfort of the intending pilgrims, the Government of His Majesty has allocated a total of 26 medical officers comprising 20 nurses and six doctors. A total of seven Bi'thah Haj liaison officers will also leave with the haj pilgrims to take care of the management affairs of the pilgrims throughout the journey.

At the ceremony, His Majesty presented the male pilgrims with Ihram clothing and praying robes (Telekung) for female pilgrims.

The Brunei Haj pilgrims, who are scheduled to leave the country in the middle of October, are travelling under Darussalam Holdings Sdn Bhd packages, while others are travelling on packages approved by authorities like Humairah Travel Centre Sdn Bhd (Borneo), HTH Travel Agency and Titian Travel & Tours. - Borneo Bulletin (20th September 2011)