The ‘over-promotion’ of International Yoga Day has resulted in vocal protests against it in Assam and other parts of the Northeast. The ‘surya-namaska’r element is raising hackles in certain quarters. Muslims point to the fact that the holy month of Ramadan is on, while some Christian sects object to being coerced to participate in such events on a Sunday.
All Assam Minorities Students’ Union has warned the BJP-led NDA government against forceful participation.
“We fear there could be a forceful attempt to involve everyone. The government has no right to make yoga compulsory for anyone. While doing yoga, one needs to do surya namaskar, which implies praying to the sun. The Modi government needs to understand that Muslims cannot pray to anybody except Allah,” AAMSU president Abdur Rahim Ahmed has said. Hwe added that since the strict month of fasting is under way, the AAMSU would strongly oppose any move to put people through unnecessary “physical stress” through yoga.
A senior leader of the Assam state unit of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, echoing AAMSU, said, “Jamiat is not against the practice of yoga but during the month of Ramazan it is difficult for Muslims to perform asanas.” The Jamiat, which is headed by All India United Democratic Front chief Badruddin Ajmal, said the exercise should not be forced on schools or individuals.
Mizoram has opposed the holding of the event on a Sunday, as it is the Sabbath. From the churches to political parties, all have voiced their opposition directly or indirectly. It is expected that the Christian community in Mizoram may not participate in the event.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, while admitting to the mental and physical benefits of yoga, had said opposition to the event had arisen because of an element of compulsion mixed with religion and politics. His government has, however, made preparations for holding the event at Sarusajai indoor stadium in Guwahati and the Nehru Stadium. Invitations had been extended to NCC cadets and educational institutions to participate in the two-hour programme at Sarusajai on Sunday.
In Manipur, non-governmental organisations will join in observing International Yoga Day on Sunday. The state government is not hosting any programme but it has welcomed the move.
In Meghalaya, the event is being observed over two days. In Shillong, International Yoga Day 2015 will be observed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex, Polo ground. East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner Sanjay Goyal has sent an open invitation to all government officials and public to join the mass yoga programme to be held from 7am to 8am on Sunday. The headquarters, Eastern Air Command, Shillong, and the stations/units under Eastern Air Command and Scouts and Guides will also observe the day.
Tripura’s Left Front government has made extensive arrangements to celebrate the day. Sports and youth affairs minister Shahid Chowdhury said, “We will celebrate the day with enthusiasm and due solemnity. It will be celebrated in all the schools by students and teachers and the sports department will organise special yoga camps.”
The Nagaland department of school education has asked all schools to observe the day. The Nagaland Baptist Church Council has opposed the hosting of the event on a Sunday.
The Arunachal Pradesh health department has also made preparations to observe the day across the state. Seven organisations in Itanagar, the state capital, will observe the day.
The United Nations General Assembly had declared June 21 as International Yoga Day on December 11 last year