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Holy Land pilgrimage from city

Calcutta, Sept. 1: From November, Christians in Bengal will be able to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land directly from Calcutta.

The West Bengal Holy Land Pilgrimage Committee, headed by Archbishop Thomas D’Souza, will organise the pilgrimage with the Israeli ambassador’s office and the honorary consul-general for Israel in Calcutta, Harsh Neotia.

The first Qatar Airways flight to the Holy Land will take off from Calcutta airport on November 14 with 50 passengers, of whom 25 will be sponsored by the Israel consul-general.

“We will select 25 people from poor economic backgrounds across Bengal and across all Christian denominations,” said Maria Fernandez, the vice-chairperson of the West Bengal Minorities Commission. Fernandez, Rajya Sabha MP Derek ’Brien and Neotia played key roles in working out the details.

The flights to the Holy Land will leave Calcutta every Wednesday till December 9.

Each pilgrim will have to pay Rs 66,000 for the five-day trip that will include flight costs, visa fees, food and lodging. The pilgrims will visit Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem and Galilee.