Keen to avoid any communal crack in its spectacle on June 21, the government on Thursday rallied Muslim groups in support of its yoga day celebrations.
Ayush minister Shripad Yesso Naik, who met the minority delegation, tried to quell all controversies, saying, “Yoga is for the well-being of all and has nothing to do with any particular religion.”
The government’s efforts come close on the heels of fringe elements of the ruling establishment trying to project the International Yoga Day celebrations with religious connotations and minority groups protesting over protocols like mandatory surya namaskar for school children.
Naik also claimed that there are no designs to make yoga a compulsory practice, but it is being promoted only as a healthy lifestyle as it is good for the body and soul.
The Muslim delegation included Majlis Ulema e Hind (Uttar Pradesh) president Maulana Syed Kaukab Mujtaba Abidi, Maulana Suhaib Qasmi, and Daudi Bohra community representative Abbas Ali Bohra. They all applauded the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Yoga Day, a press release said.
The minority leaders added that namaz too has yogic postures. Meanwhile, clerics at the Deoband seminary also said that yoga, an exercise, should not be associated with any religion.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board had already protested against the alleged attempt to make 'Surya Namaskar' and Yoga compulsory in schools, government sources said that surya namaskar has been taken off from the list of yoga postures for school students for June 21 programme.
Earlier, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj pointed out that out of 177 countries joining the observance of the first International Day of Yoga on June 21, 47 of them are members of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC). Swaraj also snubbed Yogi Adityanath who had advocated that people opposed to Surya Namaskar should be thrown in the sea.
Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Thursday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss preparations for the Yoga Day event. Ravi Shankar is expected to send thousands of volunteers for the June 21 show.