A delegation representing a few Muslim groups met Union Minister of State for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy Shripad Naik on Thursday to extend support to programmes being undertaken to mark International Yoga Day on June 21.
Even as the government has been asserting that yoga is not religion-specific, some Muslim groups have been opposing yoga demonstrations in schools and other places. These groups have been particularly opposed to Surya Namaskar, a set of aasanas that the government claims has not been included in the common protocol to be followed in missions abroad and in India.
The delegation, comprising representatives of the Majlis Ulema-e-Hind (Uttar Pradesh), Jamat Ulema-e-Hind (Delhi), All India Jamat-e-Salmani B, Jamat Huffaz Ikraam, the Daudi Bohra Community, the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan and so on, told Mr. Naik that a large percentage of the community did not believe in yoga being against their religion and supported the suggestion made by the Minister that Namaz had eight yoga postures.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj recently clarified that joining the yoga programmes was not mandatory and they had no religious connotation. She cited the co-sponsorship to the event by 47 countries that are part of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation as an example of yoga not being associated with any particular religion.
The government’s assurance notwithstanding, there were reports that the Catholic Bishops Conference of India has expressed displeasure over the decision to organise Yoga Day on Sunday, considered “sacred” by Christians.
Canadian protests The Yoga Day celebrations have run into trouble abroad, as the Vancouver Sun reported that the First Nations groups are planning to crash the provincial government’s “yoga party on the bridge” next weekend in Vancouver.
As the International Day of Yoga coincides with National Aboriginal Day, certain groups have asked people to protest. “Several pages have been set up on social media calling for a peaceful disruption of the mass yoga class with signs, singing and drumming,” the Vancouver Sun reported.
Ramdev to lead practice session
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi overseeing the International Yoga Day celebrations at Rajpath, government officials participating in the event have been asked to “practise” ahead of the D-day so that the demonstration is a synchronised exercise.
Officials have been given a CD and a copy of the protocol to practise the aasanas which will be performed by as many as 35,000 people at Rajpath; a feat that India wants recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. Practice sessions are also being carried out at the Nehru Yuva Kendras and Swami Ramdev is scheduled to hold a session at the Nehru Stadium on June 14.
All central government officials, down to the level of under-secretaries, have been asked to join the yoga demonstration at Rajpath.
Mr. Modi, an avid yoga practitioner, who proposed the addition of Yoga Day to the list of U.N. observances, has been sharing yoga aasanas and their relevance on Twitter.