Yoga not linked to religion: Sushma

June 10, 2015 01:55 am | Updated November 16, 2021 09:57 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said 47 Muslim nations are co-sponsoring the International Yoga Day on June 21 and this showed that yoga was not associated with a particular religion.

Ms. Swaraj said of the 177 nations that co-sponsored the resolution to declare June 21 as ‘International Day of Yoga,’ 47 are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

She said countries such as Afghanistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the UAE are all hosting yoga programmes to commemorate the day and the only concern these countries had was about the timing of the programme, with Ramzan likely to begin just ahead of June 21.

“Yoga Day will also be held in Pakistan,” she said, explaining that despite Islamabad refusing to give visa to instructors, India had made “internal arrangements.” The Minister said India got in touch with yoga practitioners in Pakistan to organise a programme at the embassy. Asked if visa was denied in retaliation to India refusing one to a Pakistani diplomat, Ms. Swaraj said: “Is it tit for tat, only Pakistan can tell.”

Yoga sessions will be organised in 191 countries, barring Yemen, where the Indian embassy has shut down and moved to Djibouti.

The Minister, who will lead the celebrations at the U.N. headquarters in New York, said yoga was being promoted for its holistic impact on health and for the contribution it can make to global peace and India was not using coercion on any community or institution to participate.

‘India’s best soft power’

She said even madrasas have been given the option of organising programmes. “Yoga is the best soft power India has,” she said, adding that the intention was to help lead the strife-torn world on the path of peace.

On the controversy over ‘suryanamaskar’, an asana that has been opposed by several Muslim groups, she said it was dropped from the common protocol for missions abroad and government institutions to ensure that everyone could follow the easier asanas.

“Suryanamaskar is not for those with backaches or spondylitis, it was decided to keep only the easier asanas,” she said.

Ms. Swaraj said the Yoga Day programme in India would be led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rajpath. Mr. Modi will, however, not perform along with the 35,000 people who are expected to join the programme.

The government is also making a bid to enter the event at Rajpath into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest yoga assembly, said Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik, who inaugurated a yoga portal with Ms. Swaraj.

The Ministers also ruled out filing a patent on yoga, claiming India does not believe in using it for commercial purposes.

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