“Yoga is not complete without the chanting of Om,” Ayush Minister Sripad Naik said on Wednesday even as he clarified that the chanting of the Hindu mantra was not compulsory for this year’s Yoga Day celebrations.A protocol for celebrating International Yoga Day proposed by the Ayush Ministry which included the chanting of Om and the reciting of Sanskrit prayers had snowballed into a major controversy with politicians and minority leaders protesting against the plan to chant Om.
“Yoga isn’t yoga without Om. But it is not compulsory to chant it this year,” Naik said. He, however, added the government was speaking to those opposing it. “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.
The minister also said that Suryanamaskar asana would not be part of this year’s Yoga Day celebrations. “It is a complex exercise. It is difficult to do in 45 minutes for people who are new to the exercise. Therefore, we have not kept this one,” Naik said.This year’s International Yoga Day celebrations to be organised by the Department of Ayush will be held in Chandigarh.
Naik said that state governments had also been requested to encourage the use of locally made yoga mats and apparel, preferably with the locally available raw material to provide employment opportunities to local artisans and small-scale entrepreneurs. “We are also making special efforts to involve differently abled persons in all the celebrations,” he added.