It’s Yoga Day – so let’s throw a tantrum
In a message on the eve of International Day of Yoga – today, as it happens – India’s Nagaland and Assam Governor P B Acharya said the world had finally recognised the importance of yoga in ensuring a sound mind and a healthy body. He termed it as a ‘victory for our ancient saint Patanjali’.
But because schools were ordered to stay open to celebrate Yoga Day, howls of protest came thick and fast from both Christians and Muslims.
According to this report, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council complained that Sunday is a Christian holiday, and that holding an event on the day would “hurt their religious feelings”.
Nagaland is a Christian-dominated state.
Despite the projection of yoga as “secular”, the NBCC said it is deeply rooted in the beliefs and practices of Hinduism.
Muslims were quick to sound a note of discord too. Said Dr Zahir Kazi, president of Anjuman-I-Islam, which runs a chain of schools and professional colleges:
Yoga may have many health benefits, but observing International Yoga Day in schools should not be made compulsory. The order is undemocratic and amounts to infringing on the rights of a group of citizens who don’t worship anyone except Allah who is formless and omnipresent.
Like other religious groups, Muslims revere their mothers and believe that heaven is at mother’s feet. Yet, they don’t bow to their mothers or touch their feet as they are mandated to only bow to Allah.
Maulana Mustaqeem Azmi, President of Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind (Maharashtra), slammed the government order, calling it dictatorial and impinging on the rights of citizens.
We have nothing against those who worship the sun, the moon, the seas or the mountains. But Muslims believe that all these things are creations of Allah, who alone deserves worship.
Another opponent said:
The government cannot force citizens to do what it thinks is right. The Constitution guarantees its citizens complete religious freedom. If yoga also involves surya namaskar (sun salutation), which monotheistic Islam doesn’t approve of, it should not be made compulsory. The government must amend its order before it snowballs into a major controversy.
Today is also World Humanist Day.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn