New Delhi, Jun 11: After dropping 'Surya namaskar' from the official yoga programme to "avoid controversy", the government today said chanting 'shlokas' during 'International Yoga Day' was not "compulsory" and appealed to Muslims to participate in the event.
Shripad Naik, Minister for AYUSH, the coordinating ministry for the event at Rajpath on June 21, said Muslims can "take the name of Allah instead of reciting 'shlokas'" during the event.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said a committee which decided the common yoga protocol had not included Surya namaskar "because they wanted easy asanas (exercise) in it, which can be performed by anyone."
Naik today said, "We did not include Suryanamaskar to avoid controversy. And, moreover, it's difficult to do it. But Suryanamaskar is not religious. We want the whole event to go smoothly."
"Shlokas are not compulsory. Shlokas are merely prayers but it is not compulsory. They can even take the name of Allah instead of chanting shlokas. I request the Muslims to participate and unite the country," Naik told reporters after meeting a delegation of Muslim organisations.
Opposition has been voiced by some organisations, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, against performance of Surya Namaskar, saying it is against their faith.
"We did not make anything compulsory. Even the HRD Ministry has merely appealed to the educational institutions. Few parties are opposing it for the sake of politics," Naik said.
Noting that yoga is a matter of pride and has "nothing" to do with religion, the Minister said that yoga unites people and is done for fitness.
"If people aren't fit there won't be any development. The protests are misleading. Muslims would be co-partners not just participants," he said.
Also read: Don't link Yoga with religion: M M Joshi
Meanwhile, Daudi Bohra community members who met the Minister welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative and said the event does not have any religious connotations.
"There's yoga in namaaz but namaaz isn't yoga. Those who oppose it are enemies of humanity because yoga is for the well being of humans," Maulana Syed Kaukab Mujtaba Abidi, president of Majlis Ulema e Hind (Uttar Pradesh), told reporters.