Rajasthan home minister Gulab Chand Kataria on Tuesday defended the government's decision of making 'surya namaskar' compulsory in schools.
Kataria said 'surya namaskar' is an exercise aimed at improving the health of students and help them keep fit.
The minister's statement is significant in view of the rising protests by various minority groups, which see the ancient yogic exercise of sun salutation as an extension of the ruling party's agenda to promote Hindu beliefs and practices.
A BJP MLA from the minority community has also expressed concern over making 'surya namaskar' mandatory in schools and has asked chief minister Vasundhara Raje to reconsider the decision.
Some organisations are in the process of moving court against the education department's order, which mandates a compulsory 20-minute session of 'surya namaskar', national anthem, songs and yoga, in schools across the state.
Various minorities' groups in Udaipur have submitted a memorandum to district administration urging the education department reconsiders its decision.
However, justifying the order, Kataria said the 'surya namaskar' is a set of physical exercises and it has been a part of Indian culture for a long time.
"Such decisions should not be opposed by people of any religion. Everyone should take it as a positive step," the home minister said.
The minister was in Udaipur on the eve of Mahashivratri.
Kataria visited the Trimbkeshwar Mahadev temple near his house at Machla Magra along with his wife to offer prayers on Tuesday morning.
Notably, the education department of Maharastra and the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh had also issued circulars asking education institutions to hold 'surya namaskar' sessions on the occasion of Swami Vivekanand's birthday (January 12).