Hawaiians on Hajj: One family’s 15,000 km pilgrimage to Makkah

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Cii Radio|Ayesha Ismail| 30 August 2017| 08 Zhul Hijjah 1438

Each year millions undertake the Hajj journey to Makkah in the religious experience of a lifetime.

Muslims travel from all over the world to Saudi Arabia, but one intrepid young family is traveling further than most in what is one of the longest routes there is to the holy city — from almost 15,000 kilometers away in Hawaii.

Native American Corey Gallivan, his Indonesian-born wife Andhini and their two daughters aged 13 and 15, are set to rack up over 26 hours of flight time on their journey, with several hours wait and drive time in between.

“In the true sense of the word pilgrims, we are really pilgrims,” said Gallivan, with a laugh.

“Many hundreds of years ago, the pilgrims would travel by land and by boat over months. Then it was not uncommon to travel for long periods.”

Andhini, who is a home-schooling mother, said she has spent many months “making herself at ease” for the Hajj trip, physically and spiritually.

She has spent months going on long walks to prepare herself for the exertion — physically and mentally.

“I believe in mind over matter,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for this for many years. I cried when I received the invite.

And what’s even better, I can bring my kids with me.”

Retired government worker Gallivan said: “Hajj is not a vacation, it’s a spiritual event and it’s an invite to rid oneself of material goods and be one with God.”

He added: “My daughters have never done anything like this but I went last year and I became confident that they could come with us.”

Having been granted their Hajj visas from US-government quotas, the Gallivan family will spend 16 days in Makkah and Madinah.

Gallivan carefully selected a travel package from US and Caribbean-based family-owned Sara International Travel.

The all-inclusive package cost around $8,000 person ($32,000 for the family and includes five-star hotel rooms, ground transportation, air fares, visa services, Islamic scholar guides, food and Hajj tent accommodations.

Mohammed Sattaur, vice president of Sara International Travel, said competition is heating up in the Hajj tours industry this year, owing to increased supply of tour operators and the issuance of higher country quotas.

“We haven’t needed to run a marketing campaign for the Hajj tour for three or four years; this is the first year that we had to put effort into marketing,” he said.

“It has been more work for us this year but we were able to fulfil our quota. We are taking around 750 pilgrims altogether, with around 70 coming from South America.”

Source – Arab news