Chanting “Om” refreshes the minds of these Muslim students in Bhopal as for them it is more of an exercise than a spiritual mantra.
Despite strong opposition from a section of the Muslim community , a number of Muslim students who performed asanas chanting “Om”, believe that yoga had nothing to do with religion.
Asked about their community’s reluctance of chanting “Om” during yoga, Arshad Ali, 16, a student of St George School said, “I have been with the NCC and performing yoga every day for the last few years. For me, yoga is an exercise and chanting Om is an essential part of it.”
“Neither did I try nor will I try to replace Om with any other word because I think nothing can replace Om,” he said.
“I don’t think it is hurting my religious sentiments as yoga helps us live a healthy life like aerobics and other exercise does.”
Shaista Bano, 18, a first year college student, who was performing yoga in the first row, however, did not chant the mantra, “Sarve bhavantu sukhina” but when it came to chanting “Om shanti, shanti, shanti Om,” she did not hesitate for a single moment.
“I perform yoga every day chanting Om at home. No one pressurized me to do so. May be for some people yoga is a way to have reunion with God but for me it is the easiest and cheapest way to keep myself healthy,” she said.
“People shouldn’t see everything with a religious prism and sentiments.”
Mehar Khan, 17, another Muslim student, said: “When we learn martial art, we also learn a different vocabulary. While performing martial arts we use that particular vocabulary without even knowing the meaning and reason behind it. Similarly, I chant Om without thinking of its meaning.”
Aman Khan, 13, a student of Bonifie School, who performed yoga chanting of Om for the second successive year, said, “I came here last year too and chanted Om. I learn yoga in my school. Though yoga class is optional, when I asked my father, he didn’t discourage me from joining the class, instead he motivated me.”