'Om' to be part of World Yoga Day, pro-BJP Muslim group opposes move

  • Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 19, 2015 16:38 IST

‘Surya Namaskar’ has been kept out of the International Yoga Day on June 21 because of protests from Muslims, but chanting ‘Om’ has made its way into the NDA government’s protocol for the high-profile event.

“It will start with people chanting Om. There is nothing wrong in it. Om has no religious connotations,” said Nilanjan Sanyal, secretary of the ministry of AYUSH, the nodal body for the show.

Pro-BJP Muslim bodies, however, indicated that chanting Om will not be acceptable to them.

A booklet, “Yoga aur Islam”, brought out by Muslim Rashtriya Manch, an offshoot of the RSS, said, “Darool Uloom of Deoband, one of the largest Islamic seminaries, has ruled that under the Islamic ways, one can either say Allah or remain silent instead of pronouncing Om.”

The government decided to do away with Surya Namaskar - a set of 12 yoga ‘asanas’ (postures) that is a salutation to the sun – for the event after Muslim groups said it was part of “Hindu religious practices”.

The yoga show will see Baba Ramdev returning to centre-stage for a government event, ending what is perceived as a long hiatus with the ruling dispensation.

According to the arrangements, there will be only one stage at Rajpath – the capital’s central vista – for the mega yoga show. On the stage, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be four yoga gurus: Ramdev, HR Nagendra, Hansaji Jayadeva Yogendra and Swami Atmapriyananda.

Sources said Ramdev and spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar are expected to bring the largest contingents of disciples – almost 5,000 each – for the event.

“There will be a few chairs for ministers and other VVIPs who want to come for the event. The rest of the area will be covered by yoga mats,” said Sanyal.

The government is trying to gather as many groups as possible but one religious organisation, the Brahma Kumaris, appears to have opted out of the programme following a row over its logo.

“They wanted to wear their own logo. But we decided that no organisation will showcase their individual brands or logo. We have not heard back from them,” said Sanyal.

The Ayush ministry has invited all MPs and MLAs of Delhis for the event. But the organisers clarified that film stars such as Amitabh Bachchan and Shilpa Shetty and cricketer Virat Kohli are not expected to come for the show.

The railway ministry has made yoga mandatory for all training programmes for its officers and employees. Instructions have been issued to appoint yoga instructors in all 17 railway zones.

Till now, the biggest yoga show was held in 2009 at Gwalior, where 29,000 people gathered for a function organised by the Jiaji Rao University.


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