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No ‘Suryanamaskar’ this Yoga Day, chanting ‘Om’ not compulsory: Govt

There has been a controversy over performing Suryanamaskar and chanting Om, with Muslim groups saying their faith does not allow such a practice.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2016 20:35 IST
International Day of Yoga,Suryanamaskar,Controversy about Yoga Day
Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed yoga along with thousands of people at New Delhi’s Rajpath to mark the International Day of Yoga in June, 2015. (Ajay Aggarwal/ HT Photo )

‘Suryanamaskar asana’ will not be part of this year’s Yoga Day celebrations and chanting of ‘Om’ won’t be compulsory even though Yoga is incomplete without it, Ayush minister Shripad Naik said on Wednesday.

“The Suryanamaskar asana...last year also we had not taken it. It is a complex exercise. It is difficult to do in 45 minutes and for people who are new to the exercise. Therefore we have not kept this one,” Naik, whose ministry is the nodal agency for organising the annual celebrations, told the media.

There has been a controversy over this asana, with Muslim groups saying their faith does not allow such a practice.

The International Yoga Day is being celebrated on June 21 since last year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the event at Rajpath in New Delhi and this time, he will do so in Chandigarh.

Naik also dismissed the controversy related to chanting of ‘Om’ during the event and said it has not been made compulsory.

“There is always some opposition whenever some good work is done. There is no opposition this year to it. We have not made it compulsory.... We have made those people who are opposing understand this and it seems they have understood,” he said but added “without OM, yoga cannot be complete.”

There was a controversy recently too over the UGC’s directive asking universities and colleges to follow Ayush ministry’s yoga protocol that begins with chanting of ‘Om’ and some Sanskrit shlokas during Yoga Day celebrations on June 21.

The government, however, had insisted that last year’s protocol has been maintained and no changes have been made. “There is no compulsion to chant ‘Om’,” it had earlier said.

About whether a holiday will be declared on June 21, Naik said, “It is not needed, nobody has demanded that. Last year, also no such demand came....Yoga’s time is early morning. It will take place around 8 am...There is no need of a holiday.”

However, “if the demand comes, I will request the Prime Minister to do so (declare holiday),” he said. The Yoga Day this year falls on Tuesday while last year it was a Sunday.

Ayush Ministry officials said that yoga has been added in the physical activity sessions in various schools for class six to tenth but it has not been made compulsory.

Naik said that a circular has also been issued by the HRD Minister to all the schools to include yoga and while many schools have adopted it, for others, “work is in progress”.

First Published: Jun 08, 2016 20:35 IST