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* First batch of Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims leaves for Mecca
Fri, Oct 7, 2011, 10:42 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Oct 07, Colombo; Sri Lanka's senior minister A.H.M. Fowzie was in Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport yesterday to wish well to the first batch of Hajj pilgrims of Sri Lanka.

A group of180 Sri Lankans left for Mecca yesterday in a Saudi Airline flight as the first group of 3,800 Sri Lankan Muslims to visit Mecca this year.

The Minister says that the priority is given to the first time pilgrims when allocating the quota. The government has received applications from more than 5,000 prospective pilgrims.

The government has appointed six travel agents to organize the pilgrimage and Sri Lanka pays around Rs. 380,000 for the tour.

The Minister says the government had formed two teams in Makkah and Madinah to assist the pilgrims.

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