New Delhi: '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 about the 21 June event which is expected entail a collective cost of hundreds of crores of rupees.
"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 celebrated on 21 June since last year, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking a lead in this. Modi performed the Yoga at Rajpath in New Delhi 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 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."
Chanting of 'Om' has also been a matter of controversy, with Muslim bodies saying members of their faith cannot do so.
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 21 June.
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 21 June, 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 go on 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".
"HRD minister has sent circular to schools. Work is in progress. All schools have started adopting," Naik said.
Asked about the budget for the celebrations, Ministry secretary Ajit Sharan said every ministry is spending its own money and Ayush Ministry is not supporting anybody in terms of funds for celebrating this.
"Although if all is taken collectively, it may be hundreds of crores. But from the Ayush Ministry side, the sum is around Rs 15 crore," he said.
Around 50,000 people, including 500 'divyangs', are expected to take part in Yoga Day events organised by the government. The Ayush Ministry, which has written to various industry bodies like FICCI and CII and other organisations encouraging them to participate in the events, will, however, not focus on creating a world record yet again
"The effort is to take forward the momentum built last year. The celebration organised by the government across the world to mark the first International Yoga Day was a very very grand success.
"The event was able to portray the heritage of India. We have decided to take forward the momentum with greater and more active participation of all sections of the society, particularly the youth," Naik said.
The main event will be held in Chandigarh's Capitol Complex where as many as 30,000 participants are likely to be present.
Similar programmes will be organised at 200 other venues where another 20,000 participants will perform yoga. "Last year, the drill was for 35 minutes. This time, it will be for 45. Some asanas have been increased. Shitalapranayam has been added. Some more intermediate asanas has been added," said Anil Ganeriwala, Joint Secretary of Ayush Ministry.
In the national capital, a mass demonstration has been planned at Connaught Place, which could see 10,000 people participating while diplomats and bureaucrats will take part in events at Nehru Park and Lodhi Garden.
The ministry will also organise a two-day international conference on "Yoga for Body and Beyond" at Vigyan Bhawan on
22 and 23 June and in which eminent experts from across the globe will participate.
A three-day yoga festival is being organised from 10-12 June as a curtain raiser for the big event later this month.
In order to create a buzz around the event, "Moonlit Yoga" and "Yoga flash mobs" will be held, officials said. The Ministry of External Affairs is coordinating with its 173 Missions for organising Yoga Day events.
About 5,000 defence personnel and 2,000 paramilitary personnel will also take part in the events.
"Rickshaw-pullers as well as Self Help Groups have also been roped in," a senior official told reporters.
A month-long training programme has being conducted from 21 May to 20 June in 675 districts of the country while 100 RWAs in 10 cities have also been provided training in yoga. CBSE and ICSE schools will be mobilising students for events at school-level while 36 lakh NSS volunteers and six lakh NCC cadets are also likely to participate in events across the country.
The University Grants Commission is likely to conduct a 2-3 day "yoga fest" in all universities.
The ministry has asked state governments to encourage use of locally made yoga mats for the events, a move which comes after a controversy started last year over procurement of Chinese-made mats. Naik said the move will help provide employment opportunities to local artisans and entrepreneurs.