Royal audience to intending haj pilgrims
By Azrol Azmi

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha and Her Royal Highness Pengiran Isteri Azrinaz Mazhar bte Hakim Mazhar yesterday granted separate audiences to intending haj pilgrims.

The audiences took place at the Istana Nurul Iman.

Also present were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah.

The guests were served with delicacies as they waited to greet the royalty and also performed a mass prayer at the Istana.

According to Haji Mahmud Haji, Acting Managing Director of Darussalam Holdings, more than 900 people have registered with them to perform the haj. The number does not include those who opted for other authorised private firms that conduct similar pilgrimage facilities.

His Majesty, as in previous years, presented the men with "Irham" and the women with "Telekung", both pilgrimage attire to be worn during the haj.

According to Hj Talip bin Hj Apong, who is the Haj Pilgrims Head of Delegation, more than 40 people comprising medical officers and officials from Darussalam Holdings, and RIPAS will also be travelling with them with an advance party leaving last night to oversee the preparation for the pilgrims.

Hj Talip reminded the pilgrims to cooperate with the officials and to approach them should there be any queries. The pilgrims have been told to bring along with them their passports, tickets, keys to baggage and other relevant documents to the airport and to wear their identification bracelets at all times.

In all, six flights have been allocated for the inten-ding pilgrims from Brunei. The first flight is scheduled to leave for the Holy Land December 7, 2006 while the last flight would leave on December 15.

The Bulletin managed to speak to a few of the intended pilgrims and some of them are anxious and delighted at the opportunity to perform the haj.

Mohd Khairul Zaman bin Hj Mohd Salleh, 23, who is visually impaired is being accompanied by his family and parents to perform the haj this year.

Mohd Khairul Zaman, who is studying at the Hassanal Bolkiah Tahfiz Institute, said he is glad that he is being accompanied by his father. Hj Mohd Salleh Hj Tarih said that he is fortunate to perform the haj for the second time and is looking forward to help his son and other family members perform the haj this year.

Ardija Saukat and Mela Mariana, a husband and wife couple from Indonesia, said that they are fortunate to follow the Brunei delegation to perform the haj this year. Ardija Saukat is working in Brunei in the oil and gas sector and is making good of the opportunity to perform the haj this year with his wife. This year a total of seven Indonesians are performing the haj while following the Brunei delegation. - Borneo Bulletin (29th Nov 2006)