“Ishwar V. Basavaraddi, director, Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga confirmed that even the mention of the “universal sound” of aum is being avoided to ensure that there is no religious overtone given to International Yoga Day. … Court battles have been fought in the US over whether yoga propagates religion and although the discipline’s global popularity is substantial and growing, the question hasn’t completely gone away.” – Anubhuti Vishnoi
To make yoga an aam lifestyle choice in a country where religious symbolism often attracts high-voltage political controversies, Modi Sarkar is dropping all references to ‘Om’ — the traditional mystical invocation related to Hindu spirituality and yoga practice — in its coming high-powered promotion of this ancient discipline. Senior officials involved in the government’s extensive preparations to celebrate the June 21 International Yoga Day told ET that the brief is to keep the effort “free of controversy”.
Therefore, there will be no reference to ‘aum’ in the 33-minute Common Yoga Protocol that’s been prepared by the Department of AYUSH ( ayurveda, yoga & naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy), as well as all literature and video being prepared for the June 21 celebration.
“It has to be kept in mind that the idea of the International Yoga Day is to take yoga to the global stage,” a top government official involved in preparations told ET. “Linkages with religion may just undermine this ambitious effort,” the official added. Officials who spoke to ET for this story did so on the condition they not be identified.
The Modi government’s decision is significant not only in the light of recent religion-related political controversies but also global debates about yoga’s ‘religious’ identity. Court battles have been fought in the US over whether yoga propagates religion and although the discipline’s global popularity is substantial and growing, the question hasn’t completely gone away.
Ishwar V. Basavaraddi, director, Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga confirmed that even the mention of the “universal sound” of aum is being avoided to ensure that there is no religious overtone given to International Yoga Day. Plenty of other efforts are being made to make June 21 a significant day. There are plans to issue Rs 100 and Rs 10 coins. The coins will carry the logo of International Yoga Day – a yoga posture indicating the integration of the five elements.
The government will also issue a special postal stamp bearing the same image. The same logo is likely to be adopted by UN for the international day of yoga. The slogan likely to go with the logo will be – ‘Yoga for Harmony and Peace‘. Indian missions and culture centres all over the world will host the 33-minute Common Yoga Protocol, starting 8 am of June 21. There are plans to host this — starting 7 am — across India as well, in schools and government departments and security forces. And the government is approaching Guinness Book of World Records as well as Limca Book of Records to enlist June 21 celebrations as the biggest multi-venue yoga practice ever. Also, officials said, the yoga protocol, prepared in consultation with Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev and yoga institutions in India, will stick to the simplest of yoga postures. “This is to ensure yoga appeals even to the uninitiated in many countries.”
Later this month, a yoga guru will be brought in to train MPs and their family members. In New Delhi, while the culture ministry will organise an exhibition on the history of yoga, the tourism ministry will circulate brochures and booklets. To round it all off, there will be a government-sponsored international conference on yoga on June 21 and 22. – Indiatimes, 18 April 2015
» Anubhuti Vishnoi is an assistant editor and columnist for The Economic Times, India Today and The Indian Express in New Delhi.
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