Despite the BJP’s attempts to propagate that yoga should not be linked to religion, the International Yoga Day event organised at K D Singh Babu Stadium in Lucknow drew less than 20 members of the party’s minority wing. These participants, wearing skull caps, performed 20 aasans but declined to practice Brahamari Pranayama in which ‘om’ has to be chanted while breathing out.
The event, organised by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in collaboration with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan of the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, was attended by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. CRPF officials claimed nearly 17,000 people attended the event.
However, surya namashkar was not practiced at the event. According to the organisers, surya namashkar was not performed as it was not mentioned in the booklet of general yoga practice protocol that AYUSH ministry had provided to CRPF and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan. BJP minority wing Lucknow Mahanagar president Mohammad Naseem, who said he often practices yoga to stay fit, claimed that he did not practice Bhramari Pranayama because ‘om’ was a word used in religious affairs of Hindus. Several party workers participated in the practice session following strict directive from the party despite observing fast on Ramzan, he added.
Another party worker, Mohammad Zahid Hashmi, said he practiced yoga first time on Sunday and stopped when chanting of ‘om’ started during the practice of Bhramari Pranayama.
“We all wore skull caps only to give a message that the Muslim community was supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative of promotion of yoga,” said Hashmi, who is a chowkidar in Hussainabad area of old Lucknow city.
A member of BJP state minority wing executive committee, Waqif Ahmed Naqvi, said he was has been practicing yoga for the last five years but he attended Sunday’s event wearing a skull cap to give a message that Muslims do not hesitate to perform yoga. “Muslim clerics who were opposing yoga were doing politics,” he added.
“Around 17,000 people, including 5,000 CRPF personnel, took part in the event at K D Singh Babu Stadium. Over 250 volunteers of Patanjali Yog Peeth, Art of Living and other organisations guided the gathering in practicing yoga,” said CRPF DIG (Central Zone) Bhanu Pratap Singh.