Key church bodies of the northeastern states have opposed the International Yoga Day on June 21 and appealed to people not to participate in it since Sunday is Sabbath or a day of rest.
The Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) expressed dismay at the state’s department of school education asking all schools to observe the event.
A statement issued by the NBCC said: “It is unfortunate that such events are being observed on Sundays. Enforcement would (be) tantamount to violation of religious freedom as envisaged in the Constitution. Despite practice of yoga being projected as secular, it is deep-rooted in religious beliefs and practices of Hinduism.”
The Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee (MKHC), an apex body of 15 major churches of the state, pointed out that the event being scheduled for Sunday had hurt the sentiments of Christians.
“Sunday is a holy day for Christians. The government's decision to celebrate Yoga Day on Sunday has hurt us. We appeal to the Christian community not to participate in the celebrations," said MKHC secretary Reverend R Lalrinsanga.
He urged Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla to study the religious implications of yoga before introducing it in the state’s educational institutions.
Christians account for 87% of the population of Mizoram, according to the 2011 census.
Organisations affiliated to the NBCC, such as the Angami Baptist Church Council (ABCC), reminded the people how special June 21 is on account of being Fathers’ Day and not Yoga Day.
“I trust that everyone will give one’s priority to corporate worship of God the Father in churches, give due respect to your earthly fathers for who they are to you, and meaningfully celebrate Fathers’ Day,” said ABCC executive director V Atsi Dolie.
The government’s plans to observe international yoga day had earlier angered some Muslim groups, who opposed postures such as ‘surya namaskar’ and said they were part of “Hindu religious practices”.