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No ‘Suryanamaskar’ This Yoga Day, ‘Om’ Not Compulsory: Govt

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

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Baba Ramdev (L) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) at a Yoga Festival in New Delhi. (Photo: Reuters)

‘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.

Naik was speaking about the International Yoga Day event on 21 June which is expected to entail a collective cost of hundreds of crores of rupees.

Naik, whose ministry is the nodal agency for organising the annual celebrations, said:

The Suryanamaskar asana...last year also we had not included 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 excluded it. 

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

International Yoga Day is celebrated on 21 June since last year, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking a lead. Modi performed the Yoga at Rajpath last year 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 opposition whenever some good work is done. There is no opposition to it this year. We have not made it compulsory.... We have explained to people who are opposing it and it seems they have understood. But without OM, yoga cannot be complete.

The government, however, had insisted that last year’s protocol should be maintained without any changes.

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About whether a holiday will be declared on 21 June, Naik said:

It is not needed, nobody has demanded that. Last year, also no such demand was made....Yoga’s time is early morning. It will go on around 8 am...There is no need for a holiday. However, if the demand arises, I will request the Prime Minister to do so (declare holiday).

Ayush Ministry officials said that yoga has been made a part of physical activity sessions in various schools for classes six to ten, but it has not been made compulsory.

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

Asked about the budget for the celebrations, Ministry secretary Ajit Sharan said every ministry is spending its own money and Ayush Ministry is not asking anybody to fund it.

Although if everything is considered collectively, it may be hundreds of crores. But from the AYUSH Ministry’s side, the sum is around Rs 15 crore.
Ajit Sharan, Ministry secretary

(With PTI inputs)

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