The thousands of people who will participate in a mass demonstration of yoga at Rajpath in Delhi on June 21, to mark International Yoga Day, are aiming to create a new Guinness World Record for the largest yoga class.
If they manage to create a new record, they will break the one set in Gwalior nearly a decade ago, when 29,973 school students turned up at Jiwaji University in the city and simultaneously performed Surya Namaskar.
The organiser of the Gwalior event was RSS Pracharak Mukul Kanitkar, who was then associated with Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari. On the central government’s efforts to create a new world record, Kanitkar replied diplomatically, “It’s good. Records should be bettered.’’
He recalled that it took detailed documentation, accompanied by audio-video evidence, for the event to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records.
It did not take long for Kanitkar to convince Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, a fellow yoga enthusiast, to introduce mass Surya Namaskar event in schools. Rajya Sabha MP Anil Madhav Dave, who has strong links with the RSS, also pushed the state government to take the step, said sources.
The Guinness World Record paved the way for yoga becoming a permanent fixture in schools across Madhya Pradesh, where lakhs of students simultaneously perform Surya Namaskar and Pranayam every year on January 12, to mark the birthday of Swami Vivekananda.
After its share of initial controversies — some Muslim and Christian organisations had opposed the compulsory exercise — the event is now held without any controversy. The annual event was held for the first time in 2007, a little over a year after Chouhan became chief minister. Now, the exercise is also held twice a week and on the last working day of every month.